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Pranks but no thanks, Arsenal

OPINION: While you were hiding from Storm Ciara, Shkodran Mustafi was being rewarded for his mysterious ineffectiveness with a five-star trip to Dubai

13 February, 2020 — By Steve Barnett

Shkodran Mustafi

AT some point on Tuesday afternoon, Shkodran Mustafi thought the best thing he could do was to pass his phone to a colleague and ask them to take a photo of him, looking as happy as he’s ever been, on board a luxury flight home from sun-drenched Dubai.

It had to go on Twitter, of course.

“Dubai,” he said. “We had a blast! Let’s get back to LDN.”

Social media, to an idealist, is supposed to knit the world together, bring you closer to your idols, equalise access, power and knowledge. But, techfaces, nothing sets apart an overpaid Premier League footballer from the real world like this.

While you were hiding from Storm Ciara on Sunday, somewhere warm I hope after a tough week at work, a presumed-millionaire who has ruined an inordinate number of your weekends in recent years, was being rewarded for his mysterious ineffectiveness with a five-star trip to Dubai.

He had a blast, folks. But what he really needed in this wholly undeserved winter break was a verbal blast from Mikel Arteta to ensure that he does not forget that clumsily bringing down players in your own penalty area is a bad thing to do. So is forgetting to mark opponents, or being outjumped.

Arsenal, after such an awful showing this season, would have done well to keep their players off Twitter during this trip.

We also saw David Luiz on a coach, pranking around by squeezing teammates’ noses while they slept in their seats. Joe Willock was the only one to react with a swinging punch.

So many questions follow from this.

Why are so many of the players asleep in the middle of the day?

They are in the prime of their lives, they’re not old Frank whatshisface, asleep face down among the betting slips in William Hill every afternoon.

Why were more not angry with Luiz?

Is it because they think he – another Saturday afternoon sabotager – is a lovable guy “who is great with the younger lads?”

And why does anybody at Arsenal think that their fans are in the mood for social media prankery right now?

Until the Gunners get a shift on up the table, none of it seems very funny.


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