So it would seem that the fight for top 7 in the Premier League has been made a little bit tougher with Wolves easily beating Palace at their place yesterday. Sheffield United were taken down by Everton, so at least 8th place is open, but overall, we’re going to have to pray that Chelsea shows up after a grueller against Liverpool, or Spurs take a beating from a very limp Palace side that is well and truly on their holidays.
I mean, that’s assuming we can see off a Villa that is fighting for their lives, and a Watford, that is in a slightly better but still precarious position.
Arteta gave the press 18 minutes of press conference before the game. The topics were mainly focused on the good vibes at the club between the players and the process he’s undertaking to get the club back to the top.
“Sometimes as a manager we look at ‘Oh no, if they do that, we’re not going to be able to control that’. That worry, that uncertainty, I think it’s always there. That’s why for me it’s so important that at least if you know that the people around you are going to be doing and you have zero doubts about how they can do that together, that gives you a lot of security going into the game.”
I can’t find the specific quote, but he alludes to it above, where he’s talking about knowing what the people around you are going to do. He’s trying to move the team towards a more cognitive approach to the game. Players are trained to understand triggers and patterns in play the signal a certain behaviour on the pitch. This is the sort of shit we’ve needed at Arsenal for years. It’s exciting.
He was also asked the same old questions on Ozil and Matteo, he gave a little more to the subject this time.
“That applies for any player, any member of staff that works under the organisation. If you show that your desire to do the best – not for yourself – but for the team and for the club, I think everybody will welcome you. It’s not just me that has to give the green light, everyone has to be supportive. You need to feel that support from everybody because if not it’s a very uncomfortable situation.”
I don’t know how many times he can rehash the same thing, but it’s clear, he has standards, they need to be met, if they are not, you don’t play. I don’t think we’re missing either of the players at the moment. Dropping Matteo because he wants to win so damn hard is a dead argument. Needing Mesut’s creativity would only be a relevant conversation if this were 2016. A novice coach has made a bold decision on personnel and he’s sticking with it. That is good leadership. Consistency, fairness, and forgiveness if the standards are met again.
Check out this podcast from a The Beautiful Game Podcast. These guys have pulled off a coup landing Joe Willock, so take a listen.
EXCLUSIVE: Come On You Arsenal‼️- with @Joewillock
🔹Living the dream at #AFC 🔴⚪️
🔹Mikel Arteta’s non-negotiables
🔹Aubameyang influence & impact✅
🔹Arsène Wenger legacy🔝
Youtube – https://t.co/RXBjyEQaj3
Spotify – https://t.co/gkVx0psCwQ
— The Beautiful Game Podcast (@Podcast_TBG) July 20, 2020
Arsenal fans are all desperate for Santi to return to Arsenal. The little Spaniard escaped Villareal before Emery landed, and gifted them 15 goals and 8 assists in his final season. Quite the contribution for a man Arsenal thought wouldn’t walk again. Also, quite the contribution when you compare how little Aaron Ramsey has done at Juventus this season. Anyway, the coach was asked about him.
“My opinion of Santi cannot be any higher. Personally, first, with the type of person he is and what he brings to that dressing room, but then also as a player for what he did throughout his career.”
He was then asked if he’d speak to him about coaching, he said he hadn’t spoken to him ‘yet.’ Tantalising. Do I have the inside scoop on how smart he is? No. Do I want to desperately believe that a player that intelligent on the pitch can offer something to our attacking players? Absolutely. I suspect there will be a shake-up of the backroom team this summer to go with the squad. 6 months is plenty of time to assess who is good, where we are weak, and tap people up about moving to the club.
Interesting that The Telegraph say Arteta and Edu have submitted their plan for the future. Let’s hope it’s a good one and that it was formed only by the influence of internal reccos and data.
Villa have quite a few talented players we’re all talking about in the comments. Douglas Luiz, Jack Grealish, John McGinn, and Tyrone Mings to name a few. Dean Smith is a good coach, but he’s had a rough season. It hasn’t been pretty, they’re probably going down, but they are a team backed into a corner and we’re a team that can lose to Brighton. So who knows what is going to happen.
For the good of our season, we need to keep the momentum going. We need to keep turning heads, keep fighting, keep racking up points in case there’s a choke on the final game of the season. I suspect there will be a number of changes for the game, Saka will likely get a nod, we will probably see Eddie or Reiss get a game, and we’ll see a shakeup at the back with Mustafi suffering a bit of an injury.
Let’s hope we don’t undo the good of the last two games with a switch off. Every team can be deadly in this league, we need to be at the races today. COME ON ARSENAL.
Villa spent a lot of money this summer and backed the manager, what do you think has gone wrong this season?
We did spend a lot of money in the summer but more out of necessity than choice. We had an ageing squad, supplemented with good quality loans, so when they all departed we had to replace them. So it has taken quite a while for some to adapt to the Premier League, which has been a big problem. However, quality has also been a big issue. We signed a lot of players for around £10 million or under, where we could have signed a few less but higher quality players. For example, Said Benrahma was a player we could have potentially signed but instead we got Trezeguet and El Ghazi. I think little things like that have cost us. The biggest two issues we have faced though is our lack of pace and the lack of a goal-scoring striker. Because of this, we regularly don’t have the resources to trouble teams and that has been a major issue.
John Terry is a huge Tyrone Mings fan, how do you rate his ability and his performances this season?
I really like Tyrone Mings. He is quick, strong, good in the tackle and good in the air. He likes to get stuck in, enjoys a battle and plays with a smile on his face. He’s also a good leader and a clever man. However, his biggest issue is his concentration. Too many times this season he has had a lapse in concentration which has led to an opposition chance or goal. He also is too often lackadaisical on the ball, being a bit too careless and giving the ball away in dangerous areas. I really like Mings and he was colossal for us last season and at the start of this season but I think its these mistakes which would stop him playing for a top, top club.
McGinn has been linked with Arsenal this summer, tell us what makes his such a special player special?
McGinn is a real fan favourite at Villa and I imagine he would be a fan favourite at whichever club he played for. He just puts absolutely everything into every game, so even when he is not having his best game you can never accuse him of not trying. He has an immense left foot, which he has showcased on a number of occasions whilst at Villa, with some excellent long range efforts. He is also strong, with a low centre of gravity, which allows him to hold off and then turn players. I think McGinn’s biggest improvement needs to be with his final ball, as at times this could be of a higher quality. Hopefully though, he stays with us. However, if/when we go down, I don’t see this happening.
Douglas Luiz has looked very good since the restart. Do you think he has a future in the Premier League?
Luiz has without doubt been our best player since the restart. He has been great and has showed why Pep had such a high opinion of him. He has taken a while to adapt to the league and there was also a language barrier at the start of the season, with an inability for him to understand the strong Scottish and Irish accents of McGinn and Hourihane respectively. He is such a talent though and he will become a brilliant player for a top side. He definitely has a future in the Premier League and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pep doesn’t bring him back to Man City, utilising the buy-back clause in his contract and has shown why Pep had such a high opinion of him.
Is the Jack Grealish hype justified?
Without question – yes! Grealish is a special, special player and will go to the very top. He has single-handedly carried us at times this season and has some very good goal contribution stats this season. He hasn’t been amazing since the restart but he has been on a par with the rest of the team. He probably would have been hoping for more from himself though, since the restart, based on his previous standards. I imagine it’s quite frustrating for him too, playing with players who are nowhere near his level. Grealish will leave at the end of the season and I hope he goes to a top club because he deserves that chance. And good luck to him too.
What would you have done differently this season?
As I mentioned earlier, I would have signed less players and targeted a few higher quality acquisitions. I definitely would have gone for players with more pace and a goal-scorer. I think if we had a player who could score and at least one player with serious pace, then this whole season would have been different. I know we couldn’t have done anything differently with it but the injury to Tom Heaton against Burnley has massively affected us and I think with him available for the full season, things may also have been different
What have you enjoyed most about this season?
I have enjoyed being back in the Premier League and seeing Grealish flourish in a league in which he belongs. There have also been SOME good results and a good effort from the players. The thing which I have enjoyed most though has been the night games, under the lights, at a packed and vociferous Villa Park, particularly at the start of the season. The 2-0 win against Everton, back in August, was a particular highlight.
Which players are a bit special that Arsenal fans might not know about?
In all honesty, you have mentioned most of our dangerous or special players, such is the lack of quality within the squad. If Keinan Davis plays, he may cause the Arsenal defence some problems but he won’t be a goal-threat for you to worry about. The only player you might need to be wary of is Conor Hourihane. He won’t trouble your midfield in open play but don’t give Villa a free-kick anywhere around your 18-yard box, as his excellent set-piece skills may give you something to think about
How are you expecting Dean Smith to set Villa up against Arsenal, and what has to go right for you to get a win?
I’m expecting a pretty similar team to the last outing. My team would be: Reina; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane; El Ghazi, Davis, Grealish. For us to get a win there has to be a lapse of concentration in the Arsenal defence, which I know is a possibility. I also think we will need to use our set-pieces wisely and try to convert a chance before half-time, making sure we score first. At the other end, in all honesty, we will need a lot of luck and we will need to be switched on at all times. We have to find a way to nullify the threat of Aubameyang and hope that the Arsenal side have the FA Cup final in the back of their minds. We are desperate for the points, so hopefully that shows with some fight and determination, rather than in us being rash and desperate. Fingers crossed it happens for us
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