Shhhhhhhhh! Keep GZel On The Downlow

Back in January, I did a blog called Shhh! Actually it was called Shhhhhhhhh! to be precise, but that would have taken up just too much space and time.

Shhhhhhhhh! Part Un was a plea to all Gunners to avoiding over-hyping Jack. And today’s Shhh! blog concerns the latest Wonderkind (Zelalem) to display his superpowers on the big stage.
As a reminder of the original blog on Jack, here is the introduction to Shhhhhhhhh! Part Un:

Jack Is Over-Rated (January, 2013)

I’m assuming that anyone reading my blog is already on “our team,” so let me cut to the chase here: Jack is not over-rated. He is quite probably still under-rated outside of the Arsenal community. Ever so slightly.

But we need to get Jack off the radar. Off the media’s radar. Off Bayern’s radar. Off Barcelona’s radar. Off England’s radar.

It’s Time To Get Jack On The Down-Low

Down-low is an African American slang term that refers to a subculture of men who usually identify as heterosexual, but who have sex with men; some avoid sharing this information even if they have female sexual partner(s). The term is also used to refer to a related sexual identity. An example of its use: “Tyrone and Jamaal appeared like thugs on the street, but in the bedroom they experimented with every hole they had. They kept it on the down low, though.” – Urban Dictionary

Now, I’m not saying that Jack should start having sex with men, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean the other part of being on the down-low. He needs a cover story to stay off the radar. Hence, I will shortly commence a sustained misinformation campaign. And I will need your help. PS: Jack’s sensational performance against Swansea hasn’t helped.

Pile on board on twitter when I go with Gibbs for MOTM, when I claim Jack’s goal was a mis-cue (he was aiming for the left corner), when I announce that Jack has declared for Ghana because Frimpong told him it was great fun.

Take The Pledge

Repeat after me: “I, (state your name,) do solemnly swear that Tom Cleverly is a better player than Jack Wilshere, that he is superior in every aspect of the game, for example he is taller, and that he is the future of the England national team. So help me, God.”

Anything to get Jack off the British media’s conveyor belt for building up the next Great English Hope until they’ve extracted every bit of juice from the lemon, and so turn to tearing down, piece by piece, game by game, the demi-god they created. They will attempt to inflate Jack’s ego to a point where there is no club in England big enough for him.

So, when Jack has an okay game, please say he was shit. When he has a great game, please use terms like “meh,” or at best “decent” or “solid.”

In the meantime, please join me in saying “Shhh!”


So here we are 6 months later, and I’d have to say that the Shhh! campaign has been a moderate success. It got off to a rocky start, I must admit, when Jack lit it up in a few games. Certainly his MOTM peformance against Swansea took some burying, but buried it was, by our shite defense.

Then we got lucky with a few other performances that were buried by circumstances. In particular the Liverpool 2-2 game at the Emirates. Ramsey and Jack were the 2 pivots and they were electric. It’s superb fun to watch. Santi is CAM, and the front 3 are Ollie, Theo and Poldi. Well, look here is the team sheet:

Liverpool 2-2 Lineup

The front six were actually in superb form. It’s a helluva match in my opinion. Sure, we go down 2 goals. You must remember this defence in action?! It includes Szczesny’s Cruyff turn. And two appaulingly defended goals – exactly the kind of goals we had been conceding for 18 months – a high line and a comedy of errors. But just like one of Shakespeare’s comedies, no one was laughing. Because it wasn’t funny.

But forget about the defending. (Afterall, the team did.) Watch the attacking. Jack and Ramsey actually give the back 4 decent cover while lighting the match up with runs and clever passes. Yes, if football were about the front 6, this is a setup you would want to play again and again. So, jog on over to ArsenalPlayer and grab a beer and entertain the crap out of yourself by watching the 2-2 against Liverpool. It’s got everything: Sex, violence, mature language and nudity. What’s not to love, I ask?

Anyway, Jack apparently read the Shhh! memo and decided to tone down his performances for the rest of the season, feigning a slight loss of form and mild ankle injury. He faked it so well, I would swear that half of Goonerdom was starting to under-rate the lad, let alone the rest of the footballing world.

To be fair, however, there was also that International against Brazil when he became the saviour for English football  one  more time, where either his adrenaline took over or he decided to enlist Theo’s help in enticing Rooney to join Arsenal by giving Wayne more enjoyment than he’s had since the last time he, well…for a long time.

And so we made it to this summer with Jack succesfully on the “Downlow” and ready to spring a surprise attack on the Premier League. For the first time in 3 years he has a full preseason with which to find his balance with Arteta and Ramsey. Personally, I hope we find a way to rotate so that we pick our 2 pivots from those 3 players. If we go deep in all 4 competitions we will play 60 games approx, plus Internationals in the lead up to WC2014. That’s 120 starts for those 2 berths. That’s 40 a piece. And some subbing. They could each play 50 matches.

Leave the CAM spot to Santi. Play a finally fully fit Poldi on the left as he proves himself for the WC2014. (I had a long and slightly pissy argument with John Cross after he had slagged off Poldi during the season. I suggested Poldi might have that rumoured ankle injury. JC denied it, based on quotes from Arsene and Poldi. I suggested it was not in their best interest to tell the world and other teams’ defenders that he had a vulnerable ankle. JC got pissy with me and used the “I’m entitled to my opinion” line. As it was getting pissy on both sides, I asked him if he’d admit he was wrong if it came out in the summer there was a serious problem. That was when I received the: “I’m entitled to my optinion” line. And so it was with great delight that I read this article where John Cross has just interviewed Poldi, though I didn’t find an admission – to Poldi or me. But it DID includ these lines, an admission by any other name:

“Podolski scored 16 goals in all competitions, completed a full 90 minutes  just twice in the Premier League as he was often substituted or came off the  bench. But Podolski admits his first season was blighted by an ankle injury which  plagued him throughout the campaign but has now finally been cured after  intensive treatment.”

Poldi is a LANS, guys. We haven’t seen anything like the best of our boy, Lukas.

And while we’re on the subject of LANSes…

Shhh! Part Deux. Zelalem.

He’s only just turned 16. Has he even played 90 minutes with the 1st team? And yet, man, oh, man. One could say that it’s just preseason against dodgy opposition. But when you see “the gift,” you know you just saw something special. That was like showing up at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New jersey, in 1979, because you heard about this young black girl who could sing. And not like other talented black girls could sing. No. This one had the gift, “The Voice.”  Her mother could really sing but her cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, and honorary aunt Aretha Franklin were already legends in the gospel, rhythm and blues, pop, and soul. When Whitney Houston sang, those who heard, heard the divine.

And when Gedion Zelalem put that pass through for Chamberlain to run onto and square it to Akpom, there was an inaudibly audible gasp around Goonerdom. How to describe it? The speed of thought of a teenage chess grandmaster flashing through the patterns in his mind for just the perfect option. His movement and balance were immaculate. And the weight of it: Stroked with perfect pace and then, as if two Olympic curlers invisibly and frantically sweep it’s path to modulate its speed, magically fading .

And the way it faded. It moved me inside. He fizzed it and then God’s breath blew against it to slow it down.

And his movement and balance. Aaah, it recalled Nadia Comăneci scoring the first perfect 10 in the 1976 beam. I wanted to protect and cherish Nadia, with her teddy bear, then. I want to protect and cherish Zelalem, with his gift, now.


So yeah, that’s all it takes: The mind of a chess master; the balance and grace of an Olympic gymnast; the perfect line and pace of an Olympic Curler with two invisible sweepers; and while we’re at it, the cold bloodedness of a professional hitman to pull it off on your first visit to the big stage, like it ain’t no thing, like it was never in doubt. That’s all you need to get that ball where you want it and how you want it.

Uniquely gifted, passing midfielders at Arsenal…They’re like buses really. None shows up for ages, and then suddenly, 3 show in the space of a decade. Bloody typical.

Adrian Clarke does some excellent commentary for the Vietnam match, which is captured here on this Zelalem video. The video also nicely shows 4 or 5 Zelalem moments from the Vietnam match. And in the commentary you will hear Adrian say that the club are trying to keep Zelalem on the Downlow too, hoping to give the lad another season or two to find his feet before he gets buried in the hype.


Arsene’s comments on future prospects from 18 months ago at a social event: “But he was most excited by two 15 year olds on our books – one German kid who I presume is Serge Gnabry? And one American boy who AW said ”I never thought I would see a talent like that come out of the U.S.”…. He didn’t say his name but a small amount of digging and I’m sure we can find it. Apparently a big lad already but Arsène was really excited about him as a prospect.” (Well, it looks like his name found us.)



However, once again Crossie has not read the memo as he writes in his Arsenal Asia Tour Diary:

Whisper it quietly, but the word is he’s every bit as good as – if not better  than – Cesc Fabregas at the same age. Of all the emerging Arsenal players, Gedion Zelalem looks the one to watch. Zelalem is only 16, is a terrific prospect, comfortable on the ball, able to  dictate and run a game as well as having super vision. He’s young but strong for  his frame and has shown in a couple of outings that he can take tough challenges.”

Yep. Whisper it quietly. In the Daily Mirror. Nice one, John.

So, Gooners, unfollow Zellalem. I mean, he’s 16. What great wisdom or insight did you think you were about to pick up from him? “OMG! ROFLMAO. It was only a JK.”

And, let us not speak of him again. Not him nor the other fellow. Nor the one who needs to return home. They are over-rated, anyway.

And when some United fan tells you that their next dull prospect is clearly better than our new talent, just nod in agreement. Afterall, they never rated Cesc and they don’t rate Jack. Those United bastards are delusional. They’re just like Spuds, apart from the “winning stuff” from time to time. United – they slag off our best players and then they come looking for sloppy seconds. Have some respect for yourselves, United. Develop your own.


Epilogue – And Then He Goes And Spoils It All

Hmmm. Well, I’ve just seen the reaction to the Nagoya Grandpa’s result. That didn’t exactly go to plan, did it? Nice one, Zelalem. Bloody showoff!

I think the cat is well and truly out of the bag on Zelalem and is savaging townspeople all over main street.

This just in. Even Jack, who should know better is blabbing:

 “He sees passes that not a lot of players can. You think: ‘what’s he doing?’ and suddenly someone is in. It won’t be long before he’s ready. He’s so comfortable on the ball. Even in training he’s a nightmare to play against. He keeps the ball away from you and shields it. He’s not very big but he’s strong. He drifts in and out of players. He’s quite a strong lad and technically he’s right up there. He can use his left and right and sees so many passes. He’s a good one for the future.”

Code Name: Giselle

Right, we are going to need a code name for Gedion Zelalem. And I’ve got one. Based on Gary Neville’s @GNEV, it’s GZel. And just in case that’s too obvious, we will use Giselle. That should confuse the beejaysus out of them all. Wait till they see the pics we are RT’ing after every great performance:

Who’s sexier than Giselle? GZel is. That’s who!

I suggest we go ahead and buy that big, physical DM I have been resisting. We’re gonna need him to stand next to Zelalem to get the retaliation in first. Another Whitney Houston reference if I had the energy would have me now detouring into Whitney’s romance with Kevin Kostner in “Bodyguard.”

Anyway, I give up. Zelalem IS better than Cesc. Fuck it!