Book of Revelations
‘Unai Emery’s SECRET Arsenal plan for Europa League final revealed – EXCLUSIVE’ is the kind of headline that makes Mediawatch sit up straight in its chair. Jack Staplehurst of the Daily Star, your time is now.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a full house. Now for the actual story. Let’s see these secret plans (that are no longer secret).
‘UNAI EMERY was insistent that Arsenal travel out to Baku well in advance of the Europa League final.’
Yep. He’s won it before, you see. He knows that you can’t just truck up to a Europa League final on the day. Maurizio Sarri will not have thought of this and will probably just go on Wednesday morning. The fool.
‘And it is understood the reason being is he hopes to keep his preparations for the showdown with Chelsea totally under wraps.’
‘The Gunners take on their London rivals in Azerbaijan next Wednesday (8pm/11pm local time) with qualification for the Champions League on the line.
‘A victory next week will mean everything to Arsenal in terms of silverware, financial gain, progress next season and attracting players in the transfer market.
‘As a result, Emery understandably wants his team to have the best possible chance of beating Chelsea in Baku.’
Sensible. Though at this point Mediawatch suspects that the only part of the ‘SECRET plan’ Staplehurst knows is that Arsenal are travelling on Saturday. And how secret is that SECRET plan, seeing as The Guardian referenced that on Tuesday? It doesn’t feel like an ‘EXCLUSIVE’ yet, but maybe that is hidden further down the piece.
‘The squad will fly out on Saturday, four days prior to the game, with a flight from London to Azerbaijan taking more than five hours, while the time difference means they will be three hours ahead in Baku.’
That’s a lot of numbers – three, four AND five – but all of that information is freely available on the interweb.
‘Emery’s plan is to train hard on Sunday and Monday, working on tactics and Arsenal’s game plan.’
So is this SECRET plan to basically train like they would normally train? It’s bloody genius.
‘On Tuesday when the media conduct their pre-match press conference with the manager and watch training, Emery will be giving little away.’
You mean he won’t announce his line-up and instruct his players to go through their set-piece repertoire in front of the cameras? Well he ‘understandably wants his team to have the best possible chance of beating Chelsea in Baku’, you see. Which is a secret.
Football365 did their own statistically ‘worst’ XI earlier this month, featuring Kelechi Iheanacho and other 2018/19 strugglers. We were not surprised to see The Sun follow suit (original ideas are like unicorn poo in this industry), but we were a little surprised to see this headline:
‘Premier League’s statistically worst XI with Paul Pogba, Wes Morgan and Jorginho’
That would be the Paul Pogba with 22 Premier League goals/assists this season? The Paul Pogba who has contributed to more Premier League goals than any other central midfielder? The Paul Pogba who was named in the PFA Team of the Year by his peers? That Paul Pogba?
Yes, it seems so – ‘based on statistics’. So which statistics would they be?
‘No player missed more penalties in the Premier League in 2018-19 than United star Pogba (3).’
Because that’s definitely the statistic upon which any Worst XI should be created. And that’s exactly why Gylfi Sigurdsson (also three penalties missed) is also in that XI. Sorry, he’s not? Well of course he’s bloody not – there’s literally no room when you are including Jorginho for having ‘the slowest top speed of any Prem player to play over 1,000 mins in 2018-19’.
Gloom with a view
The Sun’s Andrew Dillon is a West Ham fan, so of course the perfect choice to meet new Chelsea signing Christian Pulisic. There’s absolutely no way he will allow his personal affiliations to colour his reporting.
Apparently, Pulisic ‘is ready to lift the gloom over Sarriball’, which is a curious thing to write when Chelsea are seven days away from a European final having finished third in the Premier League.
‘This is a player just out of his teens who wants to bring youthful energy, dynamism and sparkle to matchdays. Welcome news for all the Stamford Bridge faithful who consider Italian coach Maurizio Sarri’s possession-based brand of football hard to take.’
Pesky fact: Chelsea players dribbled past the opposition more times in 2018/19 than any other Premier League club. Oh and only Manchester City had more shots. They’re doing alright for dynamism, thanks.
‘What Pep Guardiola said about taking Juventus job amid reports over Man City exit’ – Daily Mirror.
What that headline should have said: ‘What Pep Guardiola said at the beginning of March about taking Juventus job which we have shamelessly resurfaced amid reports over Man City exit.’
Knowing me, knowing you, Zaha
Mind you, The Daily Mirror have to bow to The Sun when it comes to dredging up old quotes to make modern headlines. This is a belter:
‘Arsenal transfer target Zaha reveals he was a fan of the club as a boy and still is, leaving Gunners convinced he will join them’
Note the present tense ‘reveals’.
And then note the third paragraph of the story:
‘A video has emerged on social media of Zaha being interview by Italian journalist Alessandro Schiavone in 2017.’
‘Emerged’. That’s news, right? No wonder Arsenal are ‘convinced’.
See what condition your condition is in
‘Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez eyeing Man Utd star Juan Mata – but only on one condition’ – Daily Star.
Is the ‘condition’ that Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez remains Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez? Yes. Yes it is.
Done Dealio of the day
‘Transfer news LIVE: Liverpool AGREE DEAL claim, Man Utd plan Spurs swap bid, Arsenal’ – Daily Express.
And you thought there was f*** all happening so far.
(It’s 16-year-old Polish youth international goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski.)
Headline you thought you’d never see
‘Arsenal fans brand Kim Kardashian a ‘disgrace’ for not backing Mkhitaryan’ – The Sun.
Recommended reading of the day
Daniel Storey w***ing himself silly over classic shirts
Chris Evans on the English coach of Taiwan