Tag Archives: January

LP Pathfinders: top posts from January 2018

A person eating wanton mee with char siew in Penang, Malaysia © Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

This month’s blog round up includes a post on Penang’s street food scene with an innovative twist © Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

The beginning of a new year is a time for both reflection and preparation, and this month’s blog post submissions from our Pathfinders left us with a lot to think about. We’ve been wowed by offbeat wildlife encounters in Mexico, humbled by the sight of mighty eagle-assisted hunters in Kyrgyzstan and left pondering over current issues pervading the online travelsphere.

Though it was a tough task to narrow down our favourites, here’s our pick of travel blog posts from our Pathfinder community in January.

The Monarchs of Macheros, Mexico – Jessie Stringfield

It’s always refreshing to read a travel yarn that manages to completely capture the imagination, and Jessie’s piece on the monarch butterfly migration in Mexico sent us into a flutter. A lesser-known wondrous wildlife experience is brought to life through crisp, colourful images and engaging writing, with Jessie doing a great job of stressing the sustainability of the current infrastructure surrounding the phenomenon – an aspect of the experience that will hopefully endure as the spectacle grows in popularity.

Jessie is a blogger from the USA hoping to inspire everyone to get out and see the world. Sample more of her stories at slyharbison.com.

Atacama Desert: a no sleeping experience – Javi Lorbada

Javi’s photos are exceptional, and while the images in his visual journey across the Atacama Desert take centre stage, there’s also something enjoyable about his clipped, stringent prose-style that makes for great reading. Like any good inspirational post, his piece left us wanting to pack a tent and bed down for a night under the star-punctured Chilean skies; though our photos would likely pale in comparison.

Born in Madrid, Javi travels far and wide in search of the perfect shot. Keep tabs on his latest adventures at adventures.javilorbada.com.

The golden eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan – Cynthia Bil

For most of us, one of the major joys of travel is witnessing customs so different from our own they instil you with a sense of awe. This sensation is embodied by Cynthia’s post on the eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan: nomadic people who spend years training wild eagles to hunt for them as part of a practice dating back generations. A fascinating and informative read about humanity’s bond with the natural world is enhanced further by striking imagery of the hunters and their winged accomplices.

Cynthia and Niko are currently on an epic overland trip crossing six continents from Ireland to Alaska. Follow their journey at journalofnomads.com.

#realwomentravel – Annika Ziehen

Taking a delicate issue and exploring it with a sense of humour and poise, in this post Annika voices her thoughts over what she perceives as a lack of diversity among leading female Instagrammers in the travel industry. Annika is proactive in her approach, creating a campaign to showcase a selection of more eclectic female Insta-stars, with links to a number of wanderlust-inducing accounts included.

Annika is an self-confessed ‘truffle pig’ when it comes to rooting out destinations ideal for both adventure and luxury travel. Read more of her insights at midnightblueelephant.com.

Painting Penang: capturing the diverse food scene in watercolour – Dan and Lauren

The innovative format of Dan and Lauren’s article could spice up any topic, but its appeal is heightened when considering its subject matter. Penang’s George Town is a magnificent blend of whimsical street art and fantastic food stalls, which makes the pair’s decision to paint what they’ve eaten in the city a stroke of genius. By no means a gimmick, the post’s content is substantial, highlighting a selection of Penang’s celebrated eateries in addition to the excellent illustrations.

Dan and Lauren bring their travels to life through stories and scribbles. Keep track of their experiences at pocopilgrims.com.


Find out what else the Lonely Planet Pathfinders are up to (or sign up yourself!) by checking out the Travel Bloggers: your stories forum on Thorn Tree.

Chelsea vs West Brom predicted lineup: January signing could be handed first start

Eden HazardChelsea face West Brom at Stamford Bridge tonight. Here’s how we expect the Blues to lineup vs the Baggies. READ MORE: Injured Chelsea star provides update on his situation. Chelsea host West Brom at Stamford Bridge tonight, with Antonio Conte’s men looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats in the Premier League. The reigning champions […]

The January Papers: Analysis of a remarkable month at Arsenal

Right, well that’s that. The transfer window closed last night at 11pm, bringing to an end a month which I can only describe as mental. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

In the space of two weeks, Arsenal shipped out their three leading goalscorers from last season, did a swap deal with Jose Mourinho’s Man Utd for one of their star players, and broke the club transfer record for a striker having done exactly the same last summer.

It’s unprecedented, I certainly didn’t expect anything like this at the start of the month – especially from a manager who routinely calls for the January window to be closed because of the destabilising effect it has, and it’s kind of hard to get your head around it all, so let’s go at it bit by bit and see what kind of sense we can of.

First up, the cold hard facts.


Francis Coquelin (Valencia) – £12m. Theo Walcott (Everton) – £20m. Alexis Sanchez (Man Utd) – swap. Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) – £18.5m. Mathieu Debuchy (Saint-Etienne) – free. Marcus McGuane (Barcelona B) – free.

Ben Sheaf (Stevenage) – loan. Julio Pleguezuelo (Gimnastic de Tarragona) – loan. Chuba Akpom (STVV) – loan. Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers) – loan. Krystian Bielik (Walsall) – loan.

Total: £50.5m


Konstantinos Mavropanos (PAS Giannina) – £2m. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man Utd) – swap. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) – £55.5

Total: £57.5m


Although it’s hard to know exactly how much players are paid, we estimated that the departures (of senior players alone) took around £400,000 a week from the wage bill. We then have to take into account salaries for Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and the increased wages for Mesut Ozil who signed a very welcome contract extension with the club yesterday.

That £400,000 a week, and possibly more, is likely to have gone to cover those three players salaries.


So, for a total outlay of around £7m, Arsenal have brought in Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang to refresh our attack, and moved on Giroud, Sanchez and Walcott – three key components of last season’s team with around 60 goals between them. However, we have to look at their departures in the context of this season. Giroud had one Premier League start, Walcott none, Sanchez … well, there are different opinions about his final season, but I think we could all agree he was, at least, unsettled.

So, with regards this season we’ve sold two players the manager no longer rated highly enough to play them in the Premier League, and one who desperately wanted out. For some, it will be evidence that Arsenal don’t spend enough money, and on the last two transfer windows we remain in profit to the tune of around £20m. For others, it will be seen as good business in getting two quality players in for that kind of outlay. Depends on how full or empty your glass is, I guess.

In letting Sanchez leave though, it was important we did something to ensure that the reputation of the club and the team wasn’t too tarnished, and I think we did that with the signing of:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

He’s a superb striker, no question. He’s a player highly coveted by some of the biggest teams in Europe over the last few seasons, and with 141 goals in 212 games for Dortmund, he knows where the goal is. He’s lightning quick, his movement is great, and he’s so far removed from the kind of striker we’ve been used to playing with for the last few years that his presence cannot do anything but change the way we play.

It’s a signing that sends a statement too. Ok, we lost Sanchez, but we’re not going to sit and weep about it, we’re going to move on and bring in another big name, but also another top player. I think the brouhaha over his behaviour has been somewhat overplayed, so I’m not even slightly worried about that. When players want a move they often do things they wouldn’t normally do, and at 28 he knew this was his last big transfer.

The question is: how do we get him the service he needs to thrive? He’s primarily a penalty box player, and a quick look at where he scores his goals from tells you we’re going to have to adapt and quickly.

It’s worth having a read of Lewis’s profile of him, if you haven’t already, because he deals with his strengths and weaknesses, and what kind of player we’re getting. Check it out here.

Not only was it important for the club to replace Sanchez in terms of goals, but also in terms of profile, and I don’t think without the arrival of Aubameyang we’d have got …

Mesut Ozil’s new contract

The German has put pen to paper on a new three and half year deal, and a significant salary increase. It’s hard to state how important this is for Arsenal Football Club. Not simply because of what he gives us on the pitch, but because it would have been an absolute disaster for our reputation if we’d lost both Sanchez and Ozil because we’d been unable to tie then down to new contracts.

You can deal with losing one, and in the circumstances I think we did the best we could with the Chilean this month, but to lose both would have reflected so badly on the management – and by that I mean Arsene Wenger and the board/owner. Ozil’s new deal, like the signing of Aubameyang, sends a message.

It shows Arsenal can keep their top talent. It shows we can pay the top wages, because he’s on a fantastic new salary. It tells the other players at the club that this is a place they should want to be, and it shows potential recruits that we’re an attractive proposition. Come play with Ozil is, with all due respect, a much bigger draw than come play with Granit Xhaka.

If you want to really delve deep into what it means, I have a suspicion that Ozil would not have committed to this football club simply for money, and players aren’t stupid either. They can see what’s going on with this team and its performances. If you were a world class player, would you sign up for more of the same just for the cash? Some would, but I don’t get the sense that Ozil is that kind, and he would have had plenty of more lucrative offers if he’d decided to go on a Bosman in the summer.

Is it a sign that further change is coming this summer? Not just in the transfer market, but higher up. Ozil has huge respect and admiration for Arsene Wenger, he’s been on record with that more than once, but he can see as well as anyone that the manager is struggling and we’re a team currently sitting in sixth, eight points off the Champions League places, having just lost 3-1 to Swansea.

I believe his renewal tells us something about what’s going to happen this summer. Anyway, that brings us to …

Olivier Giroud

He’s a player I’ve always liked, and while he had his limitations he was reliable, consistent goalscorer for us, and a hugely popular figure around the club. When Arsenal release players, the statements are often perfunctory, so it was telling to see how much love there was for him when they announced his departure yesterday.

I genuinely think that if we’d had any choice we’d have kept him, but to get Aubameyang done we had to make him part of that process. Sometimes you have tough choices to make, and if we were committed to rebuilding we were over a barrel with this. You could ask if a more timely deal for Aubameyang might have given Dortmund more time to source a replacement, but they had to move quickly, they knew Batshuayi was available, and for it to happen Chelsea wanted Giroud.

Personally, it’s the destination that stings more than the departure itself. Had Giroud gone to Dortmund as part of the deal to bring Aubameyang in, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult to deal with because, of course, nobody likes Chelsea, but I also think we are now in an era when players will more regularly move between the top clubs in England.

I always remember being amazed when we got Serie A in the 90s on Channel 4 at how regularly the big players went between Juventus, Milan, Inter etc, because it didn’t really happen in England to any great extent. That’s no longer the case and it’s a fact of football life now, regardless of how unpalatable it can be at times.

I wish Giroud well (more or less), and as we don’t face Chelsea again this season we won’t have to deal with seeing him in that shirt up close and personal. Maybe he can score a goal or two that could help us, and I hope he has a great World Cup with France.


As I said at the start, this has been a remarkable month in terms of what we’ve done to our squad and our team. When things went wrong last season, Arsene Wenger’s last throw of the dice was to change formation to a back three. It refocused his team, we finished quite strongly in the league (results-wise) and went on to win the FA Cup.

He had nothing like that at his disposal this season, and thus his only course of action was to do something in the transfer market. I thought we might get a signing or two, but I didn’t think for a second we’d see this kind of change in such a short period of time. Wenger insists this window is destabilising, and yet we’ve basically ripped up our attacking blueprint to start all over again.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, by the way. There’s actually a lot to be said for just clearing the decks a bit and trying to find another way, rather than being reliant on the same old faces. We’ve lost players, but we’ve also added quality, experience and personality, and now it’s down to the manager to find a way to make it work.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that nothing was done to address our midfield issues or the problems we have at the back. I harbour serious concerns over both those areas, and midfield in particular is somewhere I think we have a genuine problem, with players who either don’t appear to be good enough, or don’t fit well enough together.

Perhaps the plan is an internal solution, using Ainsley Maitland-Niles in there wouldn’t be a surprise at this point, but we have to do something to change the dynamic in there because on the evidence of this season it badly needs it (Tim from 7amkickoff has done a good piece on our error prone ways on the road this season which really tells a story).

It means while there’s encouragement about how our attack has been shaken up, and excitement about seeing these new players fit in and work with Ozil etc, it’s hard not to be worried about how what’s behind them might make their lives much more difficult. Is that the next part of the puzzle, a plan that can be implemented in the summer?

Let’s hope so, because it needs it. I don’t just mean the recruitment, but an actual plan, because we should be under no illusions about what just happened this month. Arsenal decided to do stuff without it being part of any kind of strategy. I think we’ve come out of it pretty well, all things considered, but you can’t do it off the cuff like that with any frequency, you need to know what you want for it be really effective.

A final thought, this is our squad as it stands between now and the end of the season:

It’s pretty small, and you can see up front there’s a lack of depth that can only be provided by youngsters from the academy ranks. It may not be a bad thing. I think our two squad system this season hasn’t done us any favours, and Wenger has always preferred to work with a smaller group of players. It gives him less to think about when it comes to team selections/rotation etc.

It also allows those players to build momentum and cohesion, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a fairly easy to predict starting XI emerge over the next few weeks, for all our games – domestic and in the Europa League. It’s not a squad that looks like it can cope with any significant injuries though, so let’s see keep fingers crossed there.

It’s going to take something remarkable to make anything about this season successful. We’d need an incredible run of wins to make the top four, but there’s some hope that a team so proficient in cup competitions could end with a European trophy. Still, it’s been a remarkable month, and while I have worries, I’m excited to see where the hell we go from here.

Over to you, Arsenal.

Finally for today, James and I will have an Arsecast Extra. If you have questions/topics, please send to @gunnerblog and @arseblog with the hashtag #arsecastextra and we’ll do our best to get to them as we try and make sense of it all. That’ll be out around lunchtime.

Until then.

Sensational claim Arsene Wenger didn’t want star January signing


Arsene Wenger may not have been fully on board with the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – according to Paul Merson at least.

He thinks the Arsenal boss usually looks for top value signings, with players who can then be sold on to generate money for the club, and signing the forward for such a huge sum from BVB represents a break from this policy.

Merson thinks it’s akin to the Robin van Persie transfer Manchester United forced through – and Wenger only has one thing in mind when it comes to the player and what he can bring to the club.

“These don’t seem like Arsene Wenger signings to me,” Merson told Sky Sports’ The Debate.

“When has he ever bought a 29-year-old for £60m with no sell-on clause? Never ever.

“Sir Alex Ferguson did it a few years ago. 

“He said he needed to win the league and he got Robin van Persie to score him the goals to get above Manchester City.

“There was no sell-on, he got him to win the league, then he planned to retire. 

“The Aubameyang signing says to me, ‘this is a top-four signing then see you later.’”


If the claim holds true and the forward has only been brought in to win trophies or get Arsenal into the top four, he may well have a job on his hands.

The Gunners are miles off the pace in the Premier League and will probably have to settle for a spot in the Europa League again, with even fifth place looking out of their grasp – and in terms of trophies, the Premier League is obviously out.

They are in the final of the Carabao Cup, and that looks like their best chance of a trophy, especially considering the level of sides who are in the Europa League this season.

Episode 460 – David Ornstein on the January transfer window

Welcome to another episode of the Arsecast – the Arsenal podcast.

By any standards Arsenal have had a remarkable January transfer window. It’s been a long way from signing Kim Kallstrom, that’s for sure, and with me to discuss it all is David Ornstein of the BBC. We talk about the deals that went down, Alexis, Mkhitaryan, the influence of Mino Raiola in making that a reality, the pursuit and capture of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, how Olivier Giroud became something of a pawn in that deal, the new transfer dynamics at the club with Ivan Gazidis and Sven Mislintat very publicly visible, whether it means some of the power has been taken away from Arsene Wenger and lots more. Oh, and I ask him about the memes too.

Follow David on Twitter if you’re one of the few not already doing that @bbcsport_david.

You’ll find all the download and subscription links below, and you can always subscribe in your favourite podcasting app by searching for ‘arseblog’ or ‘arsecast’. All our archives are found on site or via our Acast page, and if you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.


Weekend Favs January 27

Weekend Favs January 27 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • RockingPage – Be inspired by the most successful websites all over the internet. Every day.
  • Ecamm Live – Ecamm Live puts the power of Facebook Live at your fingertips.
  • SuperTabs – SuperTab is a Chrome extension that allows you to list and search current open tabs and switch to them quickly.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Travel news quiz: January edition

Elevated view of downtown Dubai, UAE, at night with illuminated skyscrapers © Funny Solution Studio / Shutterstock

This month’s quiz reveals which city is the most expensive place to buy a pint © Funny Solution Studio / Shutterstock

Do you know which famous Canadian is soon to have their own dedicated museum exhibition? Or what London’s latest coffee trend entails? Test your knowledge of happenings in the travel sphere with our travel news quiz, featuring some of this month’s most intriguing stories.


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