Gunner Thoughts

Thoughts on City and the Return of Arsenal’s Cityzen

Manchester City could find themselves as the lowest of low scum, but the prospect of a Jesus return this month is excellent news.

This week is fast becoming the Manchester City variety your, and it’s a bit of a horror show. After losing to Tottenham and failing to capitalize on Arsenal’s slip, reports emerged of over 100 sanctions being leveled at the club dating back roughly a decade. City will once again rally the lawyers to deny the claims.

And frankly, even if they manage to rebuff the allegations again, the whole thing is rife is suspicion and will more than satisfy the checkboxes needed for conspiracy theorists to feel assured there is real skullduggery at play.

I suppose the club won’t care about those people if the findings come out in their favor, but they certainly will care about what happens to the state of the club along the way.

Outlets, including The Athletic, are reporting that Manchester City expect Pep to leave City before any sanctions could kick in. And while a person can’t go as far as saying something like that is any admission of guilt, it certainly feels like a bit of a ‘canary in the coal mine’ if it comes to pass.

Guardiola is expected to speak on the sanctions for the first time on Friday before City’s match versus Aston Villa.

There’s lots of chatter and speculation going around about ‘what should happen to City if this is true’, and of course it depends on the degree in which it is proved to be true. But the idea that punishment stops at point deductions would be really embarrassing for the league.

We look for precedent to base things on, but the fact is, this is unprecedented. It’s not the same as Juventus’ scandal, nor PEDs, it’s not the same at all.

If proven true, this is a decade worth of falsifications from an entire team. It’s a decade that built their club into what it is today on false pretenses. It’s a decade of cheating. It just is. And it should be treated as such.

If a punishment comes down and it stops at point reductions, and I’m a different team in the Premier League, I’m starting my own book-cooking that very afternoon. A decade of skirting rules, winning leagues, and building a global brand in exchange for one mediocre season and whatever results from the point deduction — which in past years could still probably give City a shot at top 4 or European places— you’d take that trade off every time. There’s nothing stopping you if that’s the precedent.

We ban players for gambling on games. Heck, some American sports won’t let player’s careers be recognized because they gambled on games. But here we have an entire team cheating their way through a decade of team-building, altering the transfer market and global game in a major way, and the punishment might be light? Can’t be. For the good of the game, it has to be the most dire punishment of all time. The financial doping, as Wenger once called it, is alive and well these days and, arguably, has been out of hand for some time. Reigning this in stands to be one of the biggest issues the global game will face in the next decade.

This is an opportunity to use financial cheaters — which IS what they would be if these allegations prove true — as a real example for clubs spending their time skirting rules, and City should get everything coming to them. Fines are meaningless, points are manageable, the punishment should be more, a lot more.

Stripping of titles (no they don’t go to Liverpool or 2nd place) should be done without a thought, but where the punishment goes from there, I’m open to it all.

And let me be clear — so should any other club that finds themselves in a similar situation at a future date. If City fall and it creates a domino effect of club investigations, those clubs should be held accountable as well. And if a day came that Arsenal were roped into this scandalous behavior, I would be first in line to shame the club for turning to such tactics for success. Fortunately, I don’t believe we have to be worried about that.

Enough about that because this is an Arsenal blog.

Perhaps it was fitting to start there, not only because it’s headline news and potentially abhorrent behavior, but because the ties to Manchester City run deep with Arsenal. I’m not saying that to suggest there is a tie to this scandal, although seeing if/how Arteta is tied to it could be tragic, but there are players on this team deeply connected to recent years of City’s success — one of which Arsenal fans will be dying to have back soon.

Footage emerged recently of Gabriel Jesus back running which has lead many to beginning to speculate when he could be fit to return, some even believing it could be as soon as Arsenal’s date with Aston Villa or Leicester City later this month. If that were the case, he may not be ready to shoulder the burden of ninety minutes — or even starter minutes — but it would be a welcomed sight for the Gunners, as they head for a strong, decisive finish.

It would be unfair to suggest Nketiah hasn’t deputized the striker role well. He’s demonstrated for everyone that he is more than capable of being a Premier League striker and has probably only had two appearances that left fans truly missing Jesus — Newcastle and Everton.

Everton was Nketiah’s most ineffective performance, but it was Arsenal’s worst performance as a whole. Having said that, it probably answers the question floating around surrounding what Mikel should do when Jesus returns.

When Arsenal are clicking — the midfield is creating, the wings are getting after their defenders and drawing attention away to create spaces, Eddie is a dangerous dynamite. When the going gets tough, the middle gets compact, and Eddie finds himself entrenched in a sea of defenders, his contribution to the side is limited.

Comparatively, Arsenal have seen Jesus’ ability to alter the spaces he takes up, exchange with the wings, or self-create to make things happen on more than one occasion. Additionally, it’s become clear that Jesus plays a real role in unlocking Gabriel Martinelli’s potential.

Arsenal struggled to get their wingers involved with space against Everton, but Martinelli has found himself more and more isolated since the return from the World Cup break. No surprise it coincides with Jesus’ injury, Jesus is a dynamic forward capable of being that all-action attacker. While he has some deficiencies in the finishing department — an Eddie strong suit — what he offers Arsenal in so many other aspects is too much to turn away from when healthy.

Arteta will have to be cautious with his return to action as Arsenal truly need him to finish this year healthy to put their best foot forward in capturing the title from Manchester City (this year of all years, please). It likely means treating him in a similar vein as they handle Thomas Partey, but he’s definitely a player that has to be in Arsenal’s starting line up.

If there is one thing I regret Arsenal not having against Everton, it was an Eddie Nketiah figure to come off the bench later in the game, full of energy and size and desire to get physical with defenders that has tried to deal with Jesus all match. We have seen multiple performance from Eddie that he’s looked lively coming off the bench, and I rate him as a player to make a huge difference for Arsenal the rest of this season. But starting over Jesus consistently is a non-starter.

Leaving it there for today. I will see you in the blogs tomorrow and then again in seven years when things with City actually culminate into something!

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