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HAIL! GFOP

I write with fingers still a-shock after the slamming shut of the January Transfer Window. As normal, it was a day of empty promise, vapid hype, and such little action that the emotional highlight was the pinging feeling involuntarily emitted by my heart upon first sight of Sam Allardyce on television. Joni Mitchell once wrote: “Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone,” and tbh, I was blown away by just how overwhelmingly happy I was to watch him spend the last two hours of the transfer window staring at everything on set as longingly as if it was made of Pie.

Ultimately, not a whole lot happened, and I don’t just mean at Tottenham, where I cannot help believe, that no matter what they achieve this season, after becoming the first Premier League team ever to avoid bringing in any new players in two consecutive transfer windows, this campaign will be haunted by the regret of “what might have been.” As I tweeted last night: As the transfer windows shuts, no matter how underwhelmed you feel by your team's moves, just remind yourself it could be worse, you could be a Knicks Fan.

2. Thank the Old Gods and the New, the lack of action in the Transfer Window will soon be a distant memory as this weekend’s Premier League slate kicks off. Highlights include complacency’s Manchester City facing up to endearing, insecure Arsenal in the Denis Suárez Memorial Derby [11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN]. How Pep’s team respond to the humiliation of that Newcastle loss will be a bellwether for the rest of the season. My gut predicts City victory.

3. We have to wait till Monday afternoon to see if jittery’s Liverpool can hold serve against both inconsistency’s West Ham and their own nerves [3 p.m. ET on NBCSN]. The good news is, Trent Alexander-Arnold may be fit enough to return and replace comedy double act Hendo and Millner at right back. The bad news is, we are also back, Live on NBC Sports right after the game at 5:30 p.m. ET. More on that below.  

4. One other massive note: Ex-Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron may make the Newcastle squad for Saturday morning’s breakfast banger at Tottenham Hotspur [7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN]. The Paraguayan GFOP’s $27 million transfer represents a staggering spike in MLS’s record outgoing transfer fee. He is the first MLS talent to be snapped up for real money, and thus expected to make an immediate creative impact at the Premier League level. The stakes are high. If he thrives, MLS could be transformed by European scouts looking to mine a new source of talent. If not, its reputation will be set back in the same way Swansea’s American coaching dalliance hurt American managerial prospects from a global POV. This Tweet explains more of my thinking. Almiron is a genuinely lovely bloke and a fantastic footballer. We wish him Godspeed at Newcastle, AKA “the Club DeAndre Built.”

5. One other big game this weekend: Rams vs. Patriots. A match-up between a team owned by a man seemingly unaware he owns a Premier League club, and another who seems disinterested in his MLS franchise. We have created a tribute to one of my favorite things about Super Bowls past which, will launch on our social on Sunday.

6. New Visit Britain Episodes. Optimal.
We could not be more thrilled to hear from so many GFOPs who have decided to travel to England for their own Premier League Weekends. Seeing the number of you charging into football grounds all over Britain is the thrill of our weekend. Keep sending us your photos, stories, and memories via social with the hashtag #PatchAtThePark.

We have launched a new episode of our Visit Britain series this morning. It is one of my favorites: My visit to the Regency Cafe [WATCH HERE] for a Full English Breakfast. That dish is one of life's under-discussed pleasures and the Regency Cafe, the art-deco greasy spoon cafe on Regency Street, is one of the best places in the world to grab one. The place is a classic time-warp and the whole experience is less a meal, more a validation of life. I am not 100% sure, but I do believe somewhere between the black pudding and bubble and squeak lies the secret of human existence, because it is impossible to leave the Regency without a full stomach and joy surging through your veins. This week’s other episode is a beauty. Our visit to Savile Row’s first Female Bespoke Master Tailor Kathryn Sargent [WATCH HERE], who is actually headed to the United States for bespoke fittings in March (more here).
 


7. Men in Blazers returns. For the Love of God NO!
We are LIVE Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN after West Ham vs. Liverpool with special guest, host of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” Hasan Minhaj. Hasan is a beautiful bloke who made us laugh. In return, we introduced him to the wonders of Phil Jones’ Instagram. He smashed that follow button, let me tell you. We are filming with huge Manchester United fan Rory McIlroy next week. Send us your questions HERE.

8. USMNT vs. Costa Rica
Our nation’s finest U.S.-based men continue their long march back to regain America’s trust. Godspeed. Saturday, 3.30 p.m. ET on Rob Stone’s Fox.

9. Picks to make your life a little lovelier
i. My Book O’The Week was “The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London,” by Christopher Skaife, an enchantingly quirky piece of storytelling, for those who like to revel in history, think about city lives lived in nature, and odd Englishmen.
ii. On Television, I have been hooked this week as a late comer to the brilliance of “Better Things’” Pamela Adlon who is some genius. How have none of you told me about this incredible show?
iii. Here is a song which will improve your life: “Old Man” by Stella Donnelly.

Courage,
Rog: @rogbennett 

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly

P.S. As always, we welcome any and all feedback on the Raven. Please send any thoughts, big or small, HERE

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How the Bundesliga is attracting the Premier League's best young players and why it's just the beginning. By Miguel Delaney for The Independent. READ HERE

Watford are the club that embrace the chaos... By Daniel Storey for Football 365. READ HERE

Ralph Hasenhuttl exclusive interview: 'I am a very emotional guy... it costs me a lot to stay calm during a game'. By Jeremy Wilson for the The Telegraph. READ HERE
PODCAST

Rog and Davo talk title race after sleepy Manchester City's stumble at Newcastle and Liverpool dropping points to Leicester. Plus, United's last minute comeback draw, Chelsea is battered on the South Coast and Spurs win over Watford. LISTEN HERE

“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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