So football seasons work in blocks. They’re international break blocks. If you take each one as a chunk of the season, it’s a nice way to work. The next 6 games run until the 8th of November. Plenty can happen in that time. Realistically, you can rule yourself out of the league in that time, you can drop yourself out of the league cup and this time around… we could easily be out of the Champions League.
1. Throw Europe if we lose the Bayern game.
Yeah, sounds brutal right? But here’s the thing, if we lose our first game to Bayern Munich, which is at home on the 20th of this month, we might as well forfeit the whole thing. For those Arsenal fans unaware of what it’s like to be bang average as a club, when you miss the group stages, UEFA throw you a big fat rotting corpse of a booby prize by dropping you into the Europa League or whatever it’s called these days.
That’s bad news. It means that you have to travel to the poverty teams of every league. Poverty teams aren’t usually major cities, so the transport is absolutely awful, you can struggle with the pitches and you play on Thursday which makes your weekend games absolutely arduous. I think Newcastle finished 5th a few seasons back, the next season, playing Spursday night football they were nearly relegated. Some would argue they’ve never recovered from that.
If we go out of the Champions League, go for broke in the League. It’s far more valuable for us to get a top 2 than it is for us to make a semi final in a competition no one cares about.
2. Respect the smaller teams.
There were a few examples last year of Arsenal going to the smaller teams in a very complacent mood. In fact, we had West Ham over early on in the season and we were beaten because we weren’t at the races. Monaco were a glamourous shite team and we tanked there too.
We have Watford, who are mid-table in the form guide having picked up good wins against Newcastle and Swansea. Their home record is one loss in 4. Which for a small team is pretty damn good. We need to respect that they have good players and a good set up. We need to be prepared and on our game. This league is too strong to take a holiday in October.
3. I AM SANCHEZ
I think Theo Walcott said in an interview that he saw how hard Sanchez worked in games and wondered to himself… ‘why can’t I do that?’… well, you can. If there’s one thing even the most basic of human beings can do… it’s work hard. It’s a state of mind. It’s a drive. It’s a way of life.
Arsenal need to channel their inner Sanchez. We need to fight. We need to shake ourselves out of the comfort zone. We need to become warriors. It’s that warrior spirit that gets you through a turgid away day at West Brom. It’s the drive that pulls you through at home against a tough Everton side. It’s that feeling that is ALWAYS there when we decapitate Spurs at home in the NLD.
4. Strong Rotation
My work pal (English, in the US, occasionally speak with a yank accent) said he was most impressed with the shut down at half time against Manchester United. That’s the key to marginal gain wins. If you’re spanking a team in the opening 20 minutes by a margin. Shut it down. Rest your legs. Conserve energy. Bring others on.
Part of me wonders if Wenger saw what Rodgers did with Liverpool a few seasons ago and is replicating that approach?
I think Wenger has done a fair amount this season when it comes to rotation. He has to continue that. The big challenge is going to come when he’s under pressure. Pressure makes you fall back on what you know. What Wenger knows usually breaks us.
There’s also a big challenge around Coquelin. We’re in trouble if he picks up an injury, but at the same time, we’re in trouble if we rest him because of Wenger’s ridiculous transfer policy. But it’ll have to happen. Does he bring in Bielek? Do we trust Matty F? What’s the plan there?
The only way we mount a credible challenge this year is if we rest players. We also have to think about next season as well. A European Championship is coming. So if we brutalise a player like Coquelin, like Chelsea did their whole squad last season, what’s the cost of that next year? Because there’s no way Coquelin isn’t going on international duty in the form he’s in.
5. Strong Support
Now I’m in America and I’m a foreign fan, I feel it my duty to tell you at home you’re terrible fans and you’re not loud enough.
Jokes aside. The noise sounded brilliant at United. But we need to find voice in the boring games. Hopefully the boys will give the fans in the stand something to cheer about. I think we have players that get your excited when you’re cold this year. Sanchez tearing about, Coquelin smashing people, Cech actually keeping you in a game and Theo just producing (come on, he’s so sweet!).
6. Winning Dirty
It ain’t always going to be pretty. To be honest, I don’t think it’d be unfair to say that it hasn’t been pretty for years. But look, I’ll take the dirty wins. I’ll take a pragmatic game of cat and mouse if that’s what it takes. We have to scrap. If there’s anything that sums up Wenger teams post 2004, it’s that we don’t scrap and that we don’t fight smart. I hope to see us do clever things. I hope to see more of those beautiful tactics coming through. I hope to see a different beast in these second 6 games.
Right, that’s me done. Have a stunning day!