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Mesut’s magic has silenced Souness

OPINION: After years insisting that Arsenal need muscle in midfield, Sky pundit is suddenly lost for words as Unai Emery’s side turns on the style

25 October, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Mesut Ozil orchestrated a second-half exhibition against Leicester City

GRAEME Souness appears to have emerged as one of Sky’s prime pundits, and let me tell you, it’s marvellous to watch when Arsenal play well.

His gritted, polished teeth and his scowl as he realises he is going to struggle to find a fault is like some form of modern art.

A masterpiece, I could gaze at his irritable expressions all day. You can read across his frown: No, no, no, this is all wrong, Arsenal have won, no, no, no. Sky should sell prints of his frown for charity.

Or he could be sponsored to say something nice about Arsenal without wrinkling his nose – like eating a sugary doughnut without licking your lips. It could help good causes.

Souness, whose own managerial career in England amounted to a glittering trophy cabinet of ONE FA Cup and ONE League Cup, has spent at least five years, maybe a decade, dealing out the advice that Arsenal need muscle in midfield.

To this end, we can only assume he means somebody like himself, the most unsubtle player in Liverpool’s otherwise superior sides of the early 1980s.

Arsenal have not, you understand, scythed down enough players in recent years, Souness-style.

There is an element of truth about this, of course. The Gunners have looked brittle on too many occasions, and, yes, we can trace that back to not adequately replacing Patrick Vieira. We surely need to stop auditioning for the new Vieira, however, and it’s a matter of pride that Arsenal have, in general, tried to win without steaming around studding as many of their opponents as they can.

So it came to be on Monday that we had all the ingredients for the most wonderful Souness scowl. Arsenal’s gorgeous passing game won the match against Leicester City and, as much as Granit Xhaka may fancy the role, there was no need for some self-styled nutcase racing around and laying down the law with reducer tackles and angry pointing. It doesn’t have to be that way.

As Mesut Ozil orchestrated a second-half exhibition, cut to Souness in the studio resigned to the fact that for once he would have to say that Arsenal had done something well. It was a collector’s item.

Jamie Carragher’s hopeless analysis, still sounding like a kid who wants to impress a parent by clutching at things that he thinks might be insightful, was even more irritating than normal, as it reduced the amount of time we could see Souness squirming for a negative.

His search saw him settle on the fact that Arsenal have to play harder teams in coming weeks. Yes, yes they do, but on Monday evening it was okay to live for the moment, and that moment was Arsenal’s delicious third goal.

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