The real leadership news cycle can begin again after being rudely interrupted by the British Election of 2019.
Today is tantalising because there is very strong chance that two of the candidates in the stadium today could be made Arsenal’s manager fulltime by January 1st.
Freddie Ljungberg has an opportunity to show that he can make us hard to beat and resilient against a wounded Manchester City side. The Swede has so far conducted himself with absolute class, showing a calm head in a tough situation, though not really moving the football forward by any margin.
In the other dugout, you have the great unknown in Mikael Arteta. His reputation in the game is fantastic, his PR has been propagated by stories of his great coaching, elite communications skills and his thorough approach to analysis and all-round problem-solving. He is the moon-shot hiring we hope could bring us some of that City IP and a future worth waking up for.
A few things to note. It’s clear a lot has happened this week, the club is speaking to everyone, but I still think the leads are Arteta, Freddie and Patrick. I think stories of Nuno are just being put in the press for his sake and I pray to Gods of Football that Martinez was kicked to the curb with the full force of a very nice leather boot. His name being linked to the club makes me dry-heave. There are also sensitivities, Arteta is coaching against us today, we have to behave. There will also likely have been conversations around Pochettino and a few other bottom of the barrelers hanging around like a pathogen in drinking water.
Holding out for Pochettino is a gamble. He’ll not be committing to any club before he needs to and the chances are that every top club in the world might be chasing him this summer. He’ll have a choice of Bayern, PSG and maybe even Manchester City if Pep decides he wants to leave. All of those clubs put the chances of an Arsenal choice at a very low ‘probably not.’
I think the other factor that has to be a consideration is the realisation we have the chance to make top 4… still. Win the game today, we’re 4 points away from a stuttering Chelsea. That’s not beyond the realms. If we bring in a manager that can stabilize us and move the team forward, we could be in with a shout at the end of the season. If Freddie doesn’t have a chance of the job longterm, then you need to put it with someone that does so the squad all know the new coach has real authority.
Big decision, I am hopeful we’ll not wait until the end of the season and my view is we should be putting our chips on Arteta.
Another big story doing the rounds in the press is the one about Mesut Ozil speaking out about the Chinese treatment of the Uighurs. The problem is a serious one, sports clubs from around the world have been tripping over themselves to deal with players speaking out about it, and they’ve generally been fucking up… Arsenal engaged the comments and said they don’t do politics and disassociated with the issue, just like the teams in the NBA have been doing after cultivating lucrative relationships with the Chinese.
A few things to note here. Mesut Ozil needs to work out what he stands for. Though his stance on China is correct and noble, it looks a bit embarrassing when just a few months ago he had Erdogan at his wedding giving him away. The Turkish leader, who purged many innocents from their jobs and put them in prison after an alleged coup attempt, also has a terrible human rights record. If there was anyone Mesut should have been standing up to, it’s a leader doing bad things to his own people.
Anyway, the Arsenal game has been cancelled from CCTV today. The Chinese using the full force of the Government to crush Western dissent. It’s extremely grim. It’s also hard to know what to make of it, unless all football clubs in Europe stand behind a movement against the violations going on, a valiant stance does nothing for your financials or your growth. On the other hand, football clubs are supposed to have some sort of moral backbone and stand for something. They have an immense platform to raise awareness of human rights abuses and should be good global citizens.
The big problem is this: How far does a football club go over an indirect issue? It’s easy for me to say stand with morals and ethics, I’m not CEOing over a -£23m loss. There’s no simple answer, but the problem Arsenal have now is they apologized, so they’ve put a stake in the ground which is not going down well on the internet.
Back the game, we have an injury list for the ages. Tierney, Bellerin, Pepe, Ceballos, Xhaka and Holding are all out.
City had problems last week against United who stretched them with their pace and width. United were lucky, but every side has to be if they want to beat Peps back to back Premier League champions.
I think rocking a front three of Saka, Martinelli and Auba would be smart. Make them think twice about pushing a high line against us. Midfield will likely be Matteo, Torriera, with Mesut in the hole. Then the defence probably picks itself again, have my doubts he’s going to risk Luiz in a game with lots of fast technical players.
Then it’s up with the gods. I’m hoping we don’t take a pasting, but if we play like we did against West Ham and Standard, we’ll lose by 4 goals. If we channel the good 10 minutes from both of those games, we’ll be in a better place.
Fingers crossed everyone, see you in the comments. x