Well good morning to you, I wrote a post yesterday and it didn’t post, so you’re getting a double hit of the good stuff today. 💉
It’s Mikel press conference time, I’m still getting over the novelty of not spending 45 minutes trying to decipher the buried messaging of an Unai prezzer. I also like the fact that for the first time in 10 years, tuning into the pregame chat is actually interesting.
Let’s jump face-first into what hasn’t changed in forever… an Arsenal manager on transfers.
‘I’m happy we have the squad that I believe we can compete for what we want. I’m fine. I want to keep the players and get the maximum from the players that I want, but if this scenario changes and we need somebody, I’m expecting that we will go into the market and try to solve the issue.’
On whether he has a wishlist just in case.
‘I have, yes. You need to have one always, just in case!’
So the reality of our situation hasn’t changed, we blew our load last summer, and unless a very cheap deal or loan pops, we’ll be tasting the consequences of that until we can shift some of the deadwood in the summer… but at least Mikel has a list of players he likes, hopefully Ever Banega and Big Steve Nzonzi don’t feature. That’d be like finally landing a date with Sienna Miller and finding out she farts when she drinks, which to be honest is how I felt when he started Xhaka… I have grown to enjoy that fragrance though.
The most interesting theme that has run through the last week is that Arteta is very publicly calling Auba his most important player. I can’t deny that it’s true, but it seems to be a very purposeful narrative that he’s pushing.
‘Auba has been around, he was very sad after the game. He was disappointed that he left the team with 10 men. It’s an action that is completely accidental in my opinion. He’s been superb under me, he’s trained really well, he’s working so hard. He’s scoring goals and has probably been the most important player on the team. So to lose him, obviously, is really bad news for us.’
‘I don’t know. I haven’t experienced it. I hope not, I hope we can play better and even win the games and he will be pushing for that as well. Players have to step up. You know, when one of your big players is not there, they have to take responsibility. I’m sure when they’re not playing, they want a chance and they talk. It’s time to talk on the pitch, not outside. You come on there, you make the impact that he made and you sure me that you are as good as him or even better. You have the chance.’
Keeping your best sharpshooter motivated is obviously important, is the extra effort because he wants him to sign a new deal, or is it to keep him motivated despite playing him out of position? Or is Arteta just a really fucking massive fanboy of the man. He has a gold car, that is way cool imo.
My abiding memory of Sheffield United is from the Highbury days when we cheated and scored a goal and Steve Bruce threatened to take his players off the pitch like a giant pink snowflake, an incident that culminated in Arsenal offering a replay for the unfair result. I also remember the FA Cup semi-final when David Seaman made THAT save from Paul Peschisolido.
Things are different now. Chris Wilder, one of the sexy breed of new managers doing big things at small clubs, has made his team quite the spectacle this season. Mikel likes him.
‘The work he’s done is phenomenal and he’s done some special things as well with some movements and characteristics of how he moves his team around, and the demands that he puts on his players. What I like about a manager is when I see a team and they are a real team that fights for every single ball with their attitude and behaviour, as well as their intentions for what they want to do every time. It’s very clear what he’s trying to do, so I have big admiration for him.’
The reality of our season is that this game is very important to our progress. Sheffield United are running away from us, we lose here, it’s a 7 point gap. Staggering considering their outlay compared to ours.
Things are still not looking positive on the injury and suspension front. Kola, Tierney and Bellerin likely won’t feature. LT ‘might’ be back in contention, but he has a hip problem. Our best striker sits out the first of three games. The only thing going for us tomorrow is that this has been the first full week the squad has had with the new training staff. We’ll be a little bit fitter, the plan should be a little more clear, and hopefully we come out all guns blazing for an expectant home crowd. Miracles don’t happen overnight, but a nice run of results against sides we should be beating would build belief in the squad and make us fighting fit for the big games in the cup and against the top 6 sides when they land.
One interesting thing to watch out for is the captaincy. Who does that go to in the new era? The way the team has been playing, I’d expect someone like David Luiz. I feel like he’s bought into the vision and his performances have been immense.
Finally, Head of Medical Services, Gary O’Driscoll, has left the building to take up a new role at Liverpool. I had the pleasure of being toured around the Arsenal facilities by him a few years ago, it basically qualified me to have PHD after my work signature, and it’s part of the reason I’m so revered in the Sports Science community. The article is here, think that was back in the day when Wenger was blaming injuries on hair pills and bad luck. What a time to be alive.
What I think is important about this move is, whilst sad, it shows you how good our backroom team is. The amateur injury specialist scene on Twitter is quite something, generally always wrong about their assessments of what goes on at the club, always wrong when they point the finger out the medical team. This is a vindication of that reality. Anyway, if you fancy the job, you can apply here.
Right, find me in the comments where I’ll be giving a seminar on the latest WADA regulations, have a great Friday night x