I type with fingers energized by having the honor of waking up at 4:30 this morning to spend time filming with Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal legend is one of my favorite human beings in the world to interview, and after reading his forthcoming book, “Arsene Wenger: My Life In Red and White,” it is clear he has spent the two years since leaving the Emirates philosophizing about life, football and meaning. “Each football match is a story that should capture the imagination of those who are watching it,” he told me, “a story that remains in people’s memories, so much so that some fans are still able to tell the story 30 years later with precision and so much emotion.” I could not agree more -- what is football, but a mechanism for us to feel alive and make collective memories together? I am sitting here ruminating on our conversation, which will be released as a television special soon, and one quote has stayed with me: “Life is a journey punctuated with afflictions that help us progress with our fears, inner moods and emotions.”

Arsene is a leader who has overseen radical transformation. Another human doing the same is Marcus Rashford, who has spent much of his free time in 2020 lobbying for 1.4 million of Britain’s most in-need kids to receive the equivalent of free lunches during school breaks. The British government rejected his campaign earlier this week and so the 22-year-old Manchester United striker has spent the past 24 hours mobilizing an army of restaurants, bars and cafes (many of whom have seen their own businesses crushed by COVID) to step up and save the day. Rashford’s Twitter feed is a remarkable sight. A tribute to the micro-kindness that exists in the world and that can step into the darkness of our current moment. I admire Rashford so much. He is pioneering a new model of Premier League footballer, so deeply connected to his own roots and to the community around him, dedicated to the force of good. As one Member of Parliament noted, “It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Manchester United striker’s name will be sung on the Kop and the Gwladys Street,” but by far the most profound outcome of his actions is that he forces all of us to ask ourselves: Are we doing all we can to affect change? #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY” 

2. Men In Blazers continue to be The Worst

i. Last Monday, we were honored to have Niall Horan guest on the MiB TV show and talk about the peculiar joys of supporting Derby County. All-Timer this one. See the entire interview on Twitter (PART 1, PART 2) and an extended Pod Special is available HERE. Next up, Gio Reyna Monday, Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 
b. Full TV episode from Monday - along with every episode from this season (Klopp! Steve Kerr! Sam Mewis! Jack Harrison!) available on P’cock Premium.
ii. Merseyside Derby Pod with Davo HERE. Still exhausted from taping that marathon.
iii. Bring on the weekend. Our DraftKings Premier League Preview IS HERE. We are so grateful to DraftKings for our partnership, which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since Burger. Access its Sportsbook HERE. For a limited time, all new users can get a sign-up bonus up to $1000. Just enter code MIB when you sign up.
iv. WGFOP: The Bald Weekend Preview Pod this afternoon. You can still Call in questions NOW: (646) 459-9472.

3. To the Football…

In the weekend’s seismic clash, United host Chelsea [Saturday 12:30 p.m. ET NBC Proper]. A battle between Ole and Frank, two managers who understand the quote DNA of the club -- but are still to show they fully grasp tactics, defensive lines, and in-game changes. Both teams will draw strength from admirable Champions League performances midweek. Manchester United’s home record in the league this season is surreal -- played 2, lost 2, conceded 9 -- but their week embodies the chaos and ricocheting narrative of football this season. Miguel Delaney notes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has so quickly gone from one of his club’s worst ever defeats to perhaps his greatest team performance. The United manager will rightly feel a sense of vindication after such a victory over Paris Saint-Germain and the extent of the criticism - not least in these pages - but maybe shouldn’t get too ahead of himself.

For both Chelsea and United, this truth holds: “The lesson of the 2020-2021 season so far has been that no impression is lasting, because perceptions are drastically reset on a weekly basis. What was true at the end of the last match may be completely wrong at the end of the next.”

ii. Arsenal against Leicester [Sunday at 3:15 p.m. ET P’Cock]. Arteta v Brodge. Handsome versus Self-Deception. The two managers are obsessed with shape and the ability to counter. Who will dare be the protagonist? Arteta talking up the Europa League impact of Thomas Partey suggests it will be he.

iii. Liverpool attempt to pick up the pieces post-derby, post-Virg, against Sheffield United [Saturday 3 p.m. ET on P’Cock]. Fabinho’s excellent performance in a robust, effective Champions League win against Ajax suggests the sky is not totally falling.

iv. Brace yourself: Southampton welcome our new robot overlords, Everton [Sunday at 10 a.m. ET NBCSN]. All seasoned football fans are waiting for Big 6 Reality to re-impose itself. It may happen this weekend. Everton begin top of the table but with injuries to both the magic wand of James and Seamus Coleman, and chicken-dancer Richarlison out suspended, Everton’s strength in depth may be exposed. Ralph Hasenhüttl lives to clip wings. I see a darkness. 

v. Powerhouse West Ham face Manchester City [Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET P’Cock]. Ilkay Gundogan’s frank admission offers window into Man City’s difficult start. We speculate all the time about what's wrong with City. Hear from someone who actually has an idea. 

vi. It all kicks off THIS AFTERNOON [3 p.m. ET on P’Cock] as Aston Villa attempt to go top for the first time in 19 long years against Bielsa’s hard-charging Leeds United. What a difference a season makes. Last campaign, it took Grealish and his bros 14 games to hit 15 points. Cue Ross Barkley profiles in which the midfielder marvels, “I knew I was ready to show how good I am.” One more Villa profile worth your time? Ollie Watkins’ rise from non-league to the big time. 

vii. This weekend will also see the first El Clásico of the season [Saturday at 10 a.m. ET BeIN]. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid need a win. But oddly, out of desperation. Let’s ignore the fact that both teams have been shadows of themselves so far this season and just marvel at the fact that Ray Hudson remains on Ballon d’Or form. Also revel in this BBC piece: El Clasico XI: Who is in your combined Barcelona and Real Madrid team of the decade? Click bait? Yep. Did I click? Yep. And…how the hell is Dest not in this? WTF.

viii. A piece on how football can use last weekend's upsetting incident between Sergio Aguero and pathfinding match official Sian Massey-Ellis to continue the kind of social education that sport has always provided.

ix. NWSL was shaken up like a fizzy Spindrift by a mega-deal yesterday. Crystal Dunn, who is one of the most versatile players in the nation, moved to Portland, where her husband is the athletic trainer. The Thorns are now stocked with U.S. internationals, adding the intelligent movement and clinicality of Dunn to a roster that includes Lindsey Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Adrianna Franch and Tobin Heath.

x. If you are in need of cheer, savor this wonder strike. We have seen goals where a player runs through the other team. We have seen goals where a player scores from the halfway line. But never together. Ranger’s Kemar Roofe changed that yesterday, with a goal Steven Gerrard called “The 'best I've seen live.'” Think of Son's goal against Burnley if it had a baby with one of Wazza's bombs against West Ham. My gawd.

4. I really love Icons

I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago and have since dipped back in to buy some Pulisic stuff. But I have started holiday shopping like a mad man this year. Put it down to Isolation. Insomnia. Loneliness. And have been hitting Icons pretty hard. It is the store where footballers sign stuff. I started with a Maradona poster, moved to a James Colombia shirt, and ended up going all out on a pair of Duncan Ferguson pair of boots. Enough damage for me to end up on their radar and get a reduction that I am going to pass on to you. If you have a football fan in your life and a finished basement with a space on the wall. This place is pretty bonkers. The code they gave me is MIB10, which entitles you to 10% off. Genuinely love flicking through this site. This paragraph was typed whilst wearing a pair of Big Dunc’s Cleats. 

5. Not Football. All the Better For It.
i. 11 sleeps until Election day. If you've already voted, mazel tov. If you haven't, here's how.
ii. Started feeling like there's nothing scarier in your state than swing voters? 50 States, 50 Horror Novels.
iii. Since the Best Hollywood Chris debate has reared its tiresome head again: for the last time, the answer is always Chris Messina. And Chris Wood is better than the lot of them put together.
iv. Why the Great British Bake-off Doesn't Feel Comforting Anymore. Time to make the switch to The Great Pottery Throw Down on HBO Max. Trust me. Your soul will be soothed once again. PS I would like to host the Great American Chess Off.
v. While you were stocking up on toilet paper and trying to figure out how to cook dried beans, these blokes were driving nonstop across the US at 150 mph. 
vi. “There’s no more church. No more friends. We gave it all up for squash.” On the perils of privilege and indoor racquet sports. The Mad, Mad World of Niche Athletics Among Ivy League–Obsessed Parents.
vii. Superlative profile of Dizzee Rascal, the founding father of Grime. 
viii. Sixty-two Films That Shaped the Art of Documentary Filmmaking. Somehow, my film, “Promoted: Cardiff City,” did not make the cut. 
ix. Still stressed? The NYT, seemingly having exhausted all other ideas, recommends [checks notes] rocking back in forth in fetal position. I had no idea this worked outside of Everton games.

x. This song will blow you away. I listened to this last night and it just floored me. Kate Tempest People’s Faces. First listen. The first line had me. Captivated. Music and football can do that to you. 

We finish with sad, sad news. American Soccer podcaster Daryl Grove, who started his show Total Soccer Show with his best friend Taylor Rockwell, today lost his prolonged battle against cancer. I never met Daryl, but everyone who knows him talks about his kindness, intelligence, warmth and overwhelming positivity. He was a human being who created so much joy in this world out of his own passion for football. 

Daryl was a young man. He leaves behind his wife Shannon O’Neill. We send our love to Shannon, and to Taylor, and wish them and all of Daryl’s family and friends strength and love. His memory will live on in the way he made so many Americans deepen their love for the sport and the meaning they take from the game. Daryl's GoFundMe is here. Please support it. And let’s not take a second we have together for granted. 

Rog: @rogbennett 

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

Please Consider Supporting: 
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Philip Larkin
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