The Warm-Up: Arsenal's retro cup revival, Adil Rami's bedroom rival
Jack Lang spent last night mainlining Carabao to bring you all the morning's essential football news...
THURSDAY’S BIG STORIES
And the Wednesday-night award for partying like it’s 2013 goes to… let me just get this envelope open… Arsenal!
Yes, it was retro night at the Emirates, with the Gunners shaking off their terminal late-Wenger blues and donning the glad rags of the New Hope years, bright young English talent to the fore. The result wasn’t exactly one to get the party started (1-0 vs Doncaster) but at least the occasion was texturally authentic.
There was Theo Walcott (“Theo” to the legions of Arsenal fans who have somehow convinced themselves they know him personally), buzzing round, scoring the winner and then looking miffed at being subbed off, knowing he won’t play again for another four or five weeks. Just like old times.
There was Calum Chambers (“Calum”) at the back, looking like a future England captain, honestly. Him and Rob: massive future. Massive. There were vintage League Cup run-outs for Football Manager regens Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Josh Dasilva. Maybe one day one of them will be as good as Sanchez Watt.
Mainly, though, there was Jack “Jack” Wilshere, playing 90 minutes for the first time since the industrial revolution and catching the eye.
It’s understandable that Arsenal fans should get excited about this. Wilshere remains, beneath the literal and metaphorical scar tissue, a player of rare poise, capable of lighting up any game. Yet (a) it’s Doncaster, lads and (b) we’ve been here so many times before. By this point, we know that the disappointment arrives almost concurrent to the hope.
As with Wilshere, so with Arsenal. This was a diverting throwback to more innocent times, but surely no more than that. We’ve seen the future; we know how it all ends.
Four to the floor
Marcus Rashford, Anthony MartialGetty Images
During Louis van Gaal’s two-year reign at Old Trafford, Manchester United scored four or more goals in a competitive match on four occasions. They beat that in a single campaign in 2016/17 (five times) and already look well on course to improve on the tally this term, with four four-star displays in the opening seven games of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF reacts as he fail to score during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 20, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.Getty Images
Zinedine Zidane has made a point of staying calm over Madrid’s early-season slump, but the table does not lie: already, after five games, they trail Barcelona by seven points. Expect a few pins to be jammed into the assorted Messi voodoo dolls of the Spanish capital tonight.
IN OTHER NEWS
A monkey randomly jabbing away at a typewriter for eternity may eventually reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare, but The Warm-Up doubts the following constellation of words would never flow from the poor, doomed critter’s fingers:
“Pamela Anderson claims that Marseille ace Adil Rami is ‘terribly jealous’ of her relationship with Julian Assange.”
Yep, this is your cue to pinch yourself, friend. It may read like the ravings of an early-internet random-tabloid-story-generator algorithm – “[TV darling] in love triangle with [mysterious foreign sports star] and [morally ambiguous cyber creep]” – but that’s an actual news item, on an actual website, in the actual world.
“I have an interesting life and I’m very happy. I have a romantic partner,” purred Anderson on ITV, yet all of that coyness was enveloped by a dust cloud of double-entendre when the subject of Assange came up.
“We are friendly, yes. VERY friendly. I love Julian. He’s one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He’s very brave and there’s nothing sexier than courage.”
No wonder Rami is jealous, although as a point of order, The Warm-Up feels obliged to note that the France defender does at least have the classic “being able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy” trump card in his hand, romantic-attributes-wise. Your move, Jules.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Dries Mertens
I won’t waste your time by trying to embellish this with words.
Zeroes: The FA
Leaving Sampson’s conduct aside for now, what’s remarkable is just how lax the FA’s vetting procedures were before appointing him in 2013. Chief executive Martin Glenn, for instance, readily admitted yesterday that he only read the full report into safeguarding allegations made against Sampson last week. It was published in 2015.
“We have to be really clear and I think we are at the FA, about what we stand for in that respect,” said Glenn, presumably blissfully unaware of how bereft of meaning that sentence sounded in context.
Martin Glenn is delighted the FA is PA Sport
" Every day, for nine months, Gundogan waited for the pain. He woke up every morning knowing that was what the day would bring, what it must bring, if he was to ever have a day without pain again. Everything he did, every exercise in the gym with Baldwin, every session in the heat chamber or the pool, was designed to take him to the point of pain. The pain was not a punishment, but a reward. The pain was progress."
Gündogan gab bei Citys 1:0 Sieg sein ComebackSID
Last night, incidentally, Gundogan made his first Manchester City start since returning to fitness, but was forced off in the 2-1 win over West Brom. Here’s hoping it’s nothing too serious and he’s back strutting his stuff again soon.
To Spain, where there’s La Liga action for the SEVENTH day in a row. Now that’s commitment to getting a season up and running properly. Villarreal vs Espanyol is the pick of the evening’s three games.
In Friday’s Warm-Up Tom Adams will be explaining, at great length, why Jack Wilshere is still worth getting excited about.