Tag Archives: french

Guendouzi – Stick or Twist?

Arsenal’s squad in terms of youthful talent pushing through is in rude health.

Some of the starlets in our ranks are among the brightest we have seen at the club for some time. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe represent a hopeful future for Arsenal that we can thrive when these kids really start to bloom.

Matteo Guendouzi could be mentioned among these names. The young Frenchman is very highly rated at the club and beyond, but it seems that he is missing one vital ingredient in order to rise above the average and really strike it at the top.

That is humility.

Guendouzi, as I write, is currently training alone after his spat with Neil Maupay of Brighton. His comments toward the Gulls striker revolved around money and how Brighton’s number nine would never be able to earn what Matteo is currently on at Arsenal.

It indicates two things. One, that Guendouzi is prioritising the wrong thing and two? He really needs to put the effort he uses to annoy opponents into his football.

Since then, we have seen stories, or ‘leaks’ circulating around Guendouzi’s attitude at former clubs and of an apparent bust-up with Sokratis at our Dubai training camp earlier this year.

Now we may or may not ever know the truth about his run-in with our Greek defender, but his behaviour at his former club Lorient is a very good gauge of who the boy is behind the player as it is verified information.

His former manager at Lorient, Bernard Casoni, spoke to the media this week and had this to say:

Guendouzi’s problem is not physical and is not technical. It’s his attitude, it’s not good for the team or the coach. My relationship with him was not very good.”

“I chose him for a cup match against Nice but he was booked very early. The referee told me at half-time to warn Guendouzi: one more fault and off we go, but in the second half nothing changed. I had no choice but to master it. When I did, he refused to shake my hand.”

Most tellingly, Casoni finished with this, “He took his job seriously, his training was no problem and his character is to always want to win.

“Sometimes when he talks it’s good. But sometimes he speaks badly. He talks too much.

“His talent is not in question, this is not the problem. He can be a top player and I think he can still be successful abroad. It is up to him to change his attitude.”

Guendouzi featured heavily under Unai Emery, playing 33 times in our PL campaign alone. This season though, has been a stop-start campaign for Matteo, and early under Arteta, Guendouzi found squeezing his way into the team a tough ask.

matteo-guendouzi-fc-arsenal-1568284858-25662

The balance of Xhaka and Ceballos has no doubt not helped Guendouzi’s quest for minutes, but it seems that Arteta is not keen on the Frenchman staying at the club. Perhaps one bad apple does spoil the bunch? Just imagine being in that situation – training with a bunch of teammates daily, but one of them is difficult? It would sour the ambience at the training ground to a degree.

But it is undeniable that Guendouzi is talented. He would have no shortage of interested parties should he decide that the going is better on other shores.

How do we avoid another Gnabry situation?

Now there are many facets that aren’t similar – Gnabry’s attitude wasn’t abrasive and he couldn’t get enough gametime from the start. But we have let plenty of young players go, only for them to immediately show us what we are missing.

There is a definite chance of this happening with Guendouzi.

The problem is that if he does stay at Arsenal, how does Arteta get him to tow the line like his other players? Currently, putting him out to train alone is not exactly fertilising positivity. So if Matteo flouts the rules again, how should Arteta react?

Alternatively, if he did it again, would that indicate that Guendouzi is simply a renegade who isn’t interested in harmony and mutual respect?

It’s clear that Guendouzi isn’t the finished article – his positioning smacks of inexperience and he far too often fails to track his man, but we have all seen that he could be a huge player for us.

Or for another club. At this moment in time, it looks likely that our crop of promising youth players will shoulder the responsibility of Arsenal’s immediate future without the help of the crazy-haired Guendouzi.

 

 

 

Guendouzi Appreciation Society

Let us take a moment to appreciate Matteo Guendouzi.

The young Frenchman has taken to the Premier League like Tottenham to a semi-final exit and defied his years to put in performances that have filled us all with optimism for his near future.

Joining as a 19 year old, we had been linked with some promising players prior to Guendouzi putting pen to paper, but all had fallen by the wayside. Guendouzi was the kid chosen, and from his displays so far, it appears we have made the right choice.

What makes him so special though? At the time of writing, the kid with the untamed hair has made 28 appearances so far in the campaign, a huge number for a player touted to make his mark first in the Under-23’s.

Guendouzi crazy hair
Guendouzi – The Lion-Haired Talent

Why has Unai Emery invested so much trust in the precocious youth? From what we have seen, one of the main reasons is his fearlessness.

In tight situations, both on the ball and in scoreline, Guendouzi has shown an incredible hunger for possession. He always shows for the ball, and even better than his desire to be on the ball is his instant decision to always be on the front foot.

What makes him different to the midfielders we have is that the sideways pass is his safety net, but his first choice is always to progress up the pitch. He can make that happen with or without the ball – Guendouzi is a decent dribbler and can carry when the need arises, and his eye for a pass highlights a decent eye for someone so young.

His transitional play gives us something we don’t have in our ranks and he has stamina to burn. We must remember his age and lack of experience, however.

At times his decision-making – the last skill normally developed by kids as they grow – has been found wanting, and the negative to go with the positives of youth is that they will make errors on the pitch. That is how anybody learns, and footballers are no different.

We as fans are an impatient bunch, and mistakes on the turf are always met with groans, but when he inevitably makes a boo-boo and puts the team in danger, we must give him the time to learn.

The problem with Guendouzi is that he has made remarkably few since joining the team. He has made a rod for his own back as we expect so much now from him.

Emery obviously realises that Guendouzi is a real talent, and his box-to-box mentality and style is an arrow in our quiver that gives us the ability to adapt tactically. Guendouzi’s midfield versatility is perhaps his biggest strength and it will make him a lynchpin in the side in a year or so.

We have an opponent with a high press? Play Torreira alongside Guendouzi and have the Uruguayan and the Frenchman sitting deeper and tracking. What if we have a team that are sitting deep themselves and willing to hit on the break? A midfield 3 perhaps or Xhaka with Guendouzi, to push forward but have Guendouzi’s pace as a contingency.

Either way, whoever partners Matteo will know they have a player who puts it all in, and leaves nothing behind. They will have a partner willing to muck in when the going gets tough, and the ability to make thing happen or at the very least, get the ball quickly to the dangermen who can create.

Guendouzi is a real find, and his progress rate is quite astonishing. Let us hope he is given the room to grow into the player we all know he can be.

Who Is Matteo Guendouzi?

It flew under the radar a little, but we made our fifth summer signing just after the Lucas Torreira announcement, and it looks to be an exciting one for the future for Arsenal.

The young French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi signed on the dotted line for the Gunners, and the purchase from Ligue 2 Lorient shows that Sven Mislntat and his backroom team were intent on providing Arsenal with a long term midfield option that could prove to be a bargain.

Guendouzi is a ball-carrying midfielder who made his first team breakthrough with Lorient two seasons ago, and last season settled into a first eleven role, and with Lorient playing in the second tier, the French club were in the right position to sell their brightest talent.

What do we know of Guendouzi? This purchase took some research. I had heard of the name but never seen him play, but the French football experts certainly rate him, and liken him to an earlier transfer target of ours – Yancine Adli.

Physically strong and adept at transitioning play with the ball at his feet, Guendouzi is just as much at home at the base of the midfield as he is a box to box role.

Guendouzi made 18 appearances for Lorient as they just missed out on an immediate return to Ligue Un. His career started in Paris however, as he began his youth career with PSG. The 19 year old has already played for France U18, U19 and U20 level.

Guendouzi is not without his risks though. He had a run-in with the coaching team last season after being hooked at half time during a game, and our new Under23 coach Freddie Ljungberg will have to instill the famous Arsenal team values if Guendouzi is to prosper here.

The transfer fee of 7m is a modest one for a highly coveted 19 year old, but it also speaks of a player who could make a massive difference should the environment suit him.

What does next season hold for the 19 year old? Well, a run in the Under23’s looks likely, to gauge how close to a first team debut the Frenchman is. He has already played a smidgen of top-tier football, but the difference between that and making a mark on the Premier League is a chasm.

Unai Emery has commented on the young signing, and his words reveal that Guendouzi is very much part of his immediate plans;

We are delighted Matteo is joining us. He is a talented young player and a lot of clubs were interested in him. He has big potential and gained good first-team experience last season with Lorient. He wants to learn and improve and will be an important part of our first-team squad.”

With Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and fellow youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles vying for midfield spots, Guendouzi will really have to shine to get the starts he will be craving, but with a full schedule of games and potential injuries to contend with, this signing very much makes sense.

Identifying talent at a young age is pretty much what Sven Mislintat is renowned for – and what we hired him to do. This signing though, will be the first time that the German has really put his name on a transfer, so it will be very interesting to see how Guendouzi prospers.

It’s an exciting time for us Gunners. This summer’s purchases has reaped experience, proven winners, tenacity, strength and a sprinkling of promise. Guendouzi seems to firmly fall into the latter, but with each display, we will see if he can offer what he promises.
Welcome to Arsenal Matteo Guendouzi!

Giroud – Winning Awards and Winning Hearts

Published on Goonersphere. ​

Olivier Giroud has been at the club for nearly six years. In that time, the striker has bagged 101 goals (at the time of writing) in 163 starts.

This type of return from a striker is enough to usually warrant a permanent place in the hearts of all fans and a gold-etched place in the annals of the club’s history.


For Olivier Giroud though, earning the adoration of Gooners has been a laborious process at times. In the first few seasons of his Arsenal career, his frustrated gesticulations, penchant for writhing on the floor and his failure to notch 20 goals in a Premier League campaign were stains upon his name.


There were many, including experts from every media source, that believed Giroud was a notch below what Arsenal needed. He was effective at times, but he could never scale the heights necessary to sit amongst the best in the business.


It is said that you find the essence of someone in times of adversity, and this rings true of the bearded Gaul.


As his assured first team spot started to be put in the shadow of doubt, Giroud had two choices.


Would he go to a club that truly appreciated him? One that would guarantee him the two things he wanted – games and the love from the fans?


Or would he stick to his guns and show everyone what he was capable of? Would he show how much he loved the club?


Many attempt to display their affections in faux showings of badge-kissing and costumed words. Giroud took the Rosicky route – staying and fighting for the badge.


The opinion on Olivier – and for other players too – started to sway when his actions made a difference. His cameos from the bench would often bring a goal, sometimes it was the winner. If it wasn’t a goal, his minutes on the pitch almost always changed the path of a match. The sight of Giroud coming on started to resemble hope in the face of difficult odds.


Giroud’s tendency to score goals that could be put on canvas and sold as art has helped a lot in the barometer of opinion. His side-scissor volley in 2015, his long range netbuster against City and of course his Puskas-winning scorpion kick. If a player like Neymar or even someone looked upon more favourably like Alvaro Morata had scored any of these, then they would be lauded.


Finally though, Giroud got the credit he deserved, and on the biggest of stages. His Puskas award was utterly deserved, as is the respect from fans he now enjoys.


His link-up play in and around the box. His defensive efforts on set-pieces. These strengths are common knowledge but further evidence of his standing.


His hat-trick against Olympiacos, a goal and assist in a draw against Manchester City, a late equaliser against United. Don’t dare try to say he isn’t a big game player. Giroud has also had the minerals to cut out the weaknesses that critics used to beat him with. 

His strength came to the fore, his histrionics on the deck are now history. He now takes his frustrations out on opponents.


What has perhaps sealed his name in Arsenal folklore though, is that he declared he was staying even though it was clear he wasn’t first choice. The majority of spoiled players these days simply up sticks and go elsewhere, but Giroud didn’t. He came out and reaffirmed his loyalties. He said he wanted to stay.


His contract ends in 2019. If he decides to leave then, he can rest assured his legacy is set in stone. He may not be a Wright, an Henry or a Smudge, but Giroud will be remembered fondly, and the majority of us Gooners can see his worth quite clearly now.

We are lucky to have him. 

Gilles Grimandi – The Lifeguard

Squad depth has not just been an issue for clubs in the last decade, although there is much more need for it now thanks to some crazy scheduling. The Premier League era has placed demands on teams with European competition and domestic cups meaning that managers have a heavier reliance on those who would primarily be warming the bench.

It is these players that seasons hinge on. They are the last-gasp rolls of the dice that Gaffers are forced to do when backed into a corner. Sometimes it is a late substitution to soak up pressure and defend a precious narrow lead. Other occasions mean a start in a big game, replacing a stalwart in the side and hoping the proverbial bandage holds up.

In the briliant 1997/98 season, the influx of French players had started to meld perfectly with the English core, and the Double was achieved. The names of Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Bergkamp, Adams, Dixon and Seaman were among the brightest lights, but the name of curly-haired Gaul Gilles Grimandi is not one of the first that comes to the forefront of memory.

Primarily a defender, but used in midfield and full-back, Grimandi made 33 appearances in League and Cup, Filling in whenever plays succumbed to injury or – in the case of our more hotheaded players – more often suspension, Grimandi was an oft-utilised asset. 

On first appearance, Gilles was a limited player who struggled to keep up with the pace of the Premiership. That would be fair to a degree, as speed was never one of the Frenchman’s chief attributes. What he lacked in rapidity however, he more than made up in elbow grease and aggression. Sometimes, the lid to his temper would not be screwed down tightly enough – Diego Simeone’s face can attest to this – but there was never a moment on the pitch when Grimandi did not stretch every sinew, give every inch of effort he had.

Us fans love a player who gives his all. You may be in the shade of some of your more illustrious and gifted teammates, but if you show us how much you want to win, we will invariably back you. It helps he also got sent off against our neighbours too….

In his time at Arsenal, he won two Double’s. He may never have held down a regular spot, and he only scored a meagre amount of goals, but without the sweat and thunder that Grimandi brought to the table, two of our most glittering of campaign’s could have been far different.

The player known for his curly locks was a good egg off the field – in direct contrast to his angry persona in an Arsenal shirt – and he helped new signings acclimatise themselves to London and the club. Now a scout with the club, Gilles can look back on his Arsenal career with pride. 

Gilles got us out of some perilous situations. He rescued us on more than one occasion – scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace springs to mind – but it was more his tackling and will to win that made him the lifeguard of our squad. 

He was a player who fully optimised his talents. He was a player who did that and gave unwavering service to our club. For that, he deserves the utmost respect.

Welcome to Arsenal – Alexandre Lacazette! 

It is finally official – Alexandre Lacazette is an Arsenal player.

The French striker has arrived from Lyon for a fee believed to be around £44m, with add-ons expected to take the amount closer to £52m. This of course tops the previous record – the £42m spent on Mesut Ozil in 2014 – but is it money well spent?

In short – yes. Very much so.

Consider this. 

Spanish international Alvaro Morata is in the market this summer and any move looks to be in the region of £70m. Morata has time on his side of course but he scored less than half the goals that Lacazette scored last season.

There are more reasons to reinforce belief in our new star striker.

Lacazette was rated in the Top10 for shot conversion rate in the Top5 Leagues last season, he has scored 20goals or more in the last 3 seasons and Lacazette was also wanted by Atletico Madrid – and they have one of the most amazing track records for strikers. 

The bearded Gaul is the real deal, and his all-round play is ready-made for the precision passing that Mesut Ozil provides. This hinges on the proviso that the German playmaker decides to stay at The Emirates, but it is certainly a tantalising prospect. 

There are naysayers though. They point to his failure to establish himself upon Didier Deschamps Les Bleus plans and the apparent weakness of Ligue Un competition. This can be disbanded pretty quickly though. 

Didier Deschamps once preferred Mahmadou Sakho over Laurent Koscielny so his judgment isn’t exactly indubitable. Also, recent seasons have shown French club sides have performed better than Premier League teams in the Champions League, so the gap in quality that used to be between the French and English domestic competition has shrunk considerably.

Lacazette scores in Europe, he makes intelligent runs and is ice-cold in the six yard box. He is adaptable and he is the finisher we have needed to give us a reliable source of goals. Every title winning team has one, and we can proudly say we have one of the best.

It is also a statement of intent. It shows we are ready to mix it with the big boys in order to strengthen. It will send a message to our rivals, and more importantly, to some of our stars who may be looking to other shores. They will be perhaps swayed by this purchase and who knows? It could be the push Alexis and Mesut needs to sign on the dotted line.

This is by no means finished business as far as our need to strengthen, but it is a huge move and it is early. Alexandre Lacazette is elite and has a pedigree hewn from four seasons at the top – and he has done the business in each of them. He is still only 26 and has yet to reach his peak. Under the tutelage of Wenger, Lacazette could even sway Deschamps, although there are an embarrassment of riches for France in attack.

Lacazette has signed a contract for five years, and if injury is avoided, we can look forward to our goal tally being bolstered by a large degree. 

We as Gooners should enjoy this moment. Our club are aiming high. 

Lacazette – What Is The Truth?

In recent days, the usual broth of transfer noise has seen certain ingredients dominate the usual recipe of lies, desperate agents and wannabee’s who would sell their closest relative’s for 1000 retweets. 

In amongst the detritus which should come with a health warning, certain names have risen to the top of the  bubbling mixture and it not only changes the whole mixture, but it also cranks the gas up a few notches. The more a name is mentioned, the more froth flies from fanbases.

In relation to this, step forward Alexandre Lacazette. 

The Lyon striker has probably had more lines written surrounding his near future than any other player – and this includes the stories about Cristiano Ronaldo announcing his ‘intention’ to depart Real Madrid. 

Yes, the French 26yr old striker has been this week’s back pages darling, and the hullabaloo surrounding him is embroiling Arsenal.

Lyon Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has done nothing to keep a lid on this foaming pot either. Aulas – dependant on who you believe – has spoken regularly regarding his prized asset, and is whipping up this madcap auction in a bid to ensure Lyon receive justifiable payment for the loss of Lacazette.

In the space of one week, we have had a large amount of soundbites from Aulas, but the candid nature of his comments raises alarms somewhat. When was the last time a Chairman was so open with his hand regarding a transfer?

The sources are varied, but these are reportedly direct comments from Aulas, so if these were fabricated, then these publications would be in severe hot water if they had indeed materialised these titbits. 

What could well be the case is that there may well be something lost in translation. It wouldn’t be the first time a transfer link ended in a puff of smoke.

That being said though, there is definitely interest from Arsenal it seems. With daily column inches dedicated to the chase for Lacazette, there cannot be this much bluster without there being tangible truth somewhere.

What we cannot discern, is what stage our club is at with the player. 

Have we agreed terms? Has Lacazette even agreed to come to The Emirates? After all, according to his Chairman, Atletico Madrid have offered more money. The only stumbling block regarding this move is that The Spanish club are transfer embargoed until January. If they were not inhibited from spending, then Lacazette would surely now be in the colours of Atletico.

In amongst all of this smoke and mirrors, we have all had our say. With our club apparently chasing after French prodigy Kylian Mbappe as well, the gauge from social networks appear to favour a move for the younger Frenchman, and a lukewarm reception to our interest in Lacazette in some corners.

Is this fair though? Of course, if last season’s promise shown from Mbappe is the real deal, then he will be the next big thing in football. He will be a future Ballon D’or winner. It’s a hell of a gamble though. We have all seen our fair share of starlets burning bright before fizzling out.

Whereas Alexandre Lacazette can stand tall knowing he has shown enough to warrant a big move. 

Over 100 goals in just 203 appearances (over 30 of which were substitute appearances) which means a ratio of one goal in every two games. He has been in the Ligue Un Team of the Year three times in total. In 2016, he bagged 26 goals in a season – the most by a Frenchman in their native league since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991. 

Still not convinced? Well, according to Sky Sports News, Lacazette had the highest chance conversion rate in Europe’s top five league’s last season, with 38.9%. That beats Falcao at Monaco with 33.9% and Timo Werner of RB Leipzig with 34.4%. Also, there are only nine strikers who have scored more than Lacazette since 2012/13, and they are Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Ibrahimovic, Lewandowski, Cavani, Higuain, Aubameyang and Aguero. 

Lacazette is the real deal. He scores for fun in Ligue Un, in the big games against PSG and Monaco, in European ties. The striker is still only 26 and has not yet hit his peak. His finishing, his strength, his expert positioning, his sudden turn of pace  which gives him that crucial yard – all combine to give him the edge over defenders. 

Kylian Mbappe may still be possible, but all the while we are linked with Lacazette I’m not too concerned. 

Whether there is meat on the bone of this story is another thing, but keep your eyes on BBC Sport’s very own David Ornstein. If we are close to swooping in, then the Ornacle himself will most likely the man breaking the true story.

We are all seeking an improvement to the squad – and Alexandre Lacazette will most definitely do just that should he sign. 

Koscielny and his Ever-Growing Pocket.

Four years prior to joining Arsenal in 2010, Laurent Koscielny was at Guingamp, and struggling to enforce himself on his coach’s plans.

The speed of his rise from the doldrums of French football is staggering – and testament to how good Laurent Koscielny is, and how large his pocket has become.

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Continue reading Koscielny and his Ever-Growing Pocket.

The Search for the Perfect 9

Originally on Goonersphere.

The weekly shop is stressful enough.

The demands from your family for specific items, the worry when you see they have no stock of a particular item, other shoppers obstructing your passage, or even taking that last jar of Nutella. The weekly visit to the supermarket to load your trolley for the necessities and the treats that get you through the monotony of day to day life is quite simply a chore – and an assault on your sensibilities.

It can only be made worse, when you have successfully packed your car, navigated back home, packed the items in their relevant places, then realised you will have to go back as you’ve forgotten the taco shells – and it’s Mexican night.

If Arsene Wenger fails to address his teams need for a number nine – that feeling will be far worse, and it will be shared amongst millions of other people.

It would seem he is actively searching to fill the void, and all the right noises are being made, but the feeling of deja vu in line with previous summers never quite stops haunting us. We have been linked with approximately three million, four hundred and sixty four thousand, three hundred and eight different strikers – and yet we remain bereft of the perfect number nine.

We have made approaches though. The ill-fated move for perennial Jeremy Kyle guest, Jamie Vardy, was at least a step in the right direction, We had approached a striker who had proven credentials, and was in the prime of his career. With that attempted move, Wenger was buying for the present, not the future.

Alas, when faced with the dilemma of dragging himself away from the local off-license who afford him the luxury of a large tab, Vardy opted to stay as the big fish in a miniature pond, even if that pond sports a fancy Premiership trophy as a fountain…..

We have been linked – repeatedly – for Higuain, but as I type, it has been confirmed that the Argentine will move to Juventus  for a ball-crushing £75m. That figure is preposterous for most players, but for a 28yr old, it means the Old Lady of Turin is essentially paying Napoli the record fee in Serie A for three years of goals. Yes, it will be a lot of goals, but still……

Now, we currently sit at an impasse. The current rumours link us heavily with Alexandre Lacazette, and Wissam Ben Yedder of Toulouse.

So who would be best suited? Let us delve into the stats and try to find the answer.

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Lacazette is the bigger name, and the bigger frame. He stands two inches taller than Ben Yedder, and has scored 66 goals in the last four seasons, from 134 games in Ligue Un. He is lightning quick and is easily adaptable in the air and to feet. He has also been fully capped for France, as opposed to Ben Yedder, who still awaits his first.  The only question mark is his injury record, which isn’t quite on the level of Jack Wilshere, but a stringent fitness test would be necessary.

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Ben Yedder is a little shorter, but has scored four more goals in four seasons in Ligue Un. He has played for Toulouse for six seasons now, and question marks must remain as to why he is still at a relatively small club. Whilst Lacazette is still at Lyon, at least he can say he has competed in Europe. Plying his trade for Toulouse means Ben Yedder has never had the opportunity to lock horns with the cream of Europe’s defenders.

However, to thicken the broth a little, scoring that impressive amount of goals whilst playing in an inferior side is more kudos points to Ben Yedder. Also, a little known fact that adds more lustre to Ben Yedder, is that he has played for France’s Futsal side, which means the Frenchman has excellent close control. Something which would put him in good stead alongside Giroud and his flick-ons…..

Ben Yedder has one year left on his deal, and would cost veritable peanuts compared to Lacazette. Of course, this is all pointless, as all we have is rumours, smoke and an impressive array of mirrors when it comes to finding the truth in all of this.

It now looks as though Ben Yedder is off to La Liga, and another target bites the dust. Were we ever in for him? Who knows, but with scrutiny, he would’ve been a great fit for our side.

So, to surmise, both strikers would be great, but we probably won’t buy either. Or both. I don’t know anymore. This infernal window is frying my brain………..