Where there is smoke, there is sure to be a player crying in the changing rooms begging uncle Stan to release him from the horrors of N5. The latest is apparently Auba, who wants to move to another country to play out his final days in the sun.
This could be the fastest turnaround of two captains we’ve ever seen. Xhaka looks near certain to be leaving after skulking his way out of the organisation like a baby to take a much shittier job at a club that matches his level. Auba, his replacement, looks like a more measured move, but one that has a bit of the inevitable about it. If you marry someone that cheated to be with you (Jan transfer window), don’t be surprised to catch them in bed with another club the same way (Madrid, you savage).
He’s 30 years old right now, which is often the peak of a striker from a physical perspective and a finishing one. Next June, he’ll be 31, it’ll wipe half his value away purely from a Sporting Directors psychological perspective. Moving in the summer also takes away the premium fee you land when clubs urgently to the make something happen in a stuttering league season, or the push they might need to do something in the Champions League.
For me, the potential of the move is very depressing. Mainly because I know it makes sense. If there’s an offer on the table and he doesn’t have it granted, he’ll sulk and be useless. I’m also thinking about the potential lack of cash we know is pending this summer. It’ll also be very, very hard for us to replace him if we do elect to take a big cash payment for him now.
All in all, this is exactly the sort of contract disaster we were promised we wouldn’t have to deal with when the new regime took over… the question really is whether we just rip the plaster now, or persuade him to hang on, see us out of the relegation battle, and go in the summer.
One thing is for sure, I’d not be offering him a new deal. It’s evident that the pace is starting to fade, it’s also clear that he’s not the complete striker you need to push forward in the Premier League. I love him as a player, but I think we need someone with a more well-rounded game for the future. I’m not sure who that is, but I have another Mike McDonald blog this afternoon where he’s gone on a scouting mission to alleviate some of the concern.
One point a friend rasied last night was the 2007 Henry reaction. We lost a striker who wanted to leave, someone who could finish half chances, a legend of the club. He went to Barca, our team reacted, scoring started to be more evenly distributed and a young striker called Adebayor came into his own.
It was quite interesting reading through some of the comments yesterday, there’s still a lot of doom in the fanbase about Arsenal at the moment. We’re in bad shape, no doubt, but I am of the firm belief that if we’d had Arteta in for preseason, we’d be in a far better position as a club and we’d be challenging hard for top 4 right now. The players we have are coachable, as you’ve seen in the space of 2 weeks. We’re seeing major effort from Mesut Ozil, who looks a different player. David Luiz just gave us a towering performance. Reiss Nelson, though still raw, improved game over game. Here’s the thing, if the players aren’t coachable, no one was going to change our fortunes. That’s incorrect though, elite athletes can always be improved. Especially when they’ve had as little coaching as ours.
This is Saka on Arteta:
“He’s someone who understands the players, understands the club and all the ideas that he’s bringing in,”
“He has a clear strategy of how he wants us to play and we’re just really excited to work with him.
The next 6 weeks are going to be rough, no doubt. We’ll see some exits, we’ll hopefully see some more modern players coming into the setup, and then we’ll start to see some wins.
“Maybe one thing that I’ve picked up straight away is that when nobody’s pressing you, you don’t need to pass the ball. What you can do is just get the ball, drive the ball forward a bit and wait for someone to come to you, commit a player, then pass it.
“He has his own way, his own philosophy and he’s even talked about bringing his own philosophy to the club, to try to bring the club back to the direction we need to be in.
“We need to win games and win trophies, so I feel like he has that vision and that strategy. He knows how he wants us to get there. If we can be on board and do what he wants us to, we’ll do well.”
Sounds like basics, but if you’ve not been taught them, you do your own thing. Players want to be told how to get better, you can’t teach yourself. Now we have a whole coaching staff dedicated to making amends for the last ten years of neglect, using modern techniques, spoken in ways that resonate.
There aren’t many managers in the world of football that could take a team missing 7 players and turn over Chelsea. I think we’re going to be hard-pressed to do anything against United, factoring our 8th player being out (Cal), along with the fatigue. But after that, things will brighten up. We’ll have Leeds in the FA Cup after they’ve just had a beastly top of the table clash with WBA… I suspect the league will take priority, so that’ll be used as a resting opportunity, giving Arteta a clear week to work closely with his squad. Then we go to Palace, followed by 7 days to prepare for Sheffield United. By then, we’ll have players returning that are important. We’ll have more player to rotate, a stronger bench to call upon, and more positivity when we bring in a couple of players.
The goal for Arteta is to have the team in good shape for the Europa League last 32 vs Olympiacos. We have a tough game against Everton wedged in there, followed by the Manchester City game. Hopefully, we’ll have a settled squad by then, then fitness levels will be up, and we’ll have begun to transition to the Arteta way of thinking. We should be competitive from then on in, the football should start to be consistently exciting, and we’ll be an aggressive team with an identity. Results will still be inconsistent, but we’ll know where we’re heading.
It’s the last day of the decade today. I was pondering who the best player was, because there really aren’t a lot of worldies to choose from. I think Theo Walcott is in the top 5 scorers, that really sets the tone for what a mess it was.
For me though, if you’re basing your selection on pure joy, how can you look past Alexis Sanchez? What a player he was. We really kicked things forward with him in the side. The football was electric at times. Mesut Ozil was playing with a smile. Aaron Ramsey was lifting FA Cups. I loved everything Alexis embodied, he was a Chilean Roy of the Rovers. Probably not an ideal player for a team looking to compete for the highest honours, but at that moment, with a manager in decline, you can’t deny that he was what was needed. Someone that could just force a result through sheer bloody-mindedness.
Moment of the decade was certainly when we awoke to Arsene Out! I never thought the day would come. It was a game-changer in the history of Arsenal football club. He was fired after overseeing the slow demise of his once-great squad. It was the right thing to do, it still managed to upset people despite the barrage of evidence in favour of the move, but my oh my was that a great day.
We’ve still not quite recovered. Somehow, we managed to find a replacement willing to take the club backwards, but look, let’s just write Emery off as our David Moyes.
The real deal starts now, the future is Arteta and that means the football will go back to the glory days. We’ll be competitive again, going to watch the football will be a joy, Arsenal will have a good chance of being relevant again.
As a final sign off, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for clocking in for a read this decade. 2019 was the busiest ever year, we added over a million new reads which for an old website is big, clearly I perfected the clickbait and drew you in like fools, but thankfully, you stayed and read. The comments section went through the roof, 180,000 of them have been logged, that’s a massive commitment from you. I want you to know, I regularly read and repurpose them as elite opinions of my own.
I’m looking forward to spending the next ten years writing and creating for you. Thank you for making the effort, it’s a truly humbling experience to know that in an era of short attention spans, there are still people willing to spend 5 minutes a day reading about oatmilk and new era latte formats.
On that note, have a wonderful New Years eve, stay safe, drink like powerhouses, and raise a toast to future football. You’ll be meeting it in 2020!
Cheers, Big Love, Le Grove xxx
P.S. Striker blog comes later.