How was your Christmas people? Good I hope. I cooked. My gfs dad said, ‘great meal, the thing with a big Turkey is they don’t have flavor.’ Don’t have flavor? Are you f*cking kidding me? I massaged that Chicken with sage and orange rind butter like it was a Kobe cow. No flavor? You’d best have covid taste buds right no… wait?
OK, enough of the personal talk… Arsenal today is massive.
If we lose, I struggle to see a way back for Arteta. It’s one humiliation too far and I’m not sure the players will put in the requisite shift to lift us in 5 fairly straightforward games after.
Arteta, a manager flailing in the media, behind the scenes, and on the pitch… needs to find a performance. We need to see the players come out of the traps like they did this time last year when Mikel joined. We need a huge, huge game that convinces everyone the corner can be turned.
I don’t really know how you go back to basics again when you are coach that has overseen such a shocking run.
I’d start by playing those that want to fight. Mikel keeps saying he sees the players give it their all in training. Reality is, they are not doing it on the pitch. That has to be solved for.
Deference to players that have weak character has cost him all his political capital this season. That said, he has to stop being a politician. It’s time to start being the guy that set out guiding principles at the beginning. Show the fans and the players who is boss and make tough decisions. Being bullied by shit players is unbefitting. Those players might have been his choice, but we’re in survival mode now, time to castaway personalities that are toxic, because they have us in 15th.
He needs to pick a side that has runners in it. We’ve looked closer to a system when we’ve had players that think fast, takes risks, and move at speed. It’ll be huge if we have Martinelli in the side today. We have to have AMN and Mo at the base of midfield. Then there’s a big decision to make on the third player in midfield. There’s a video of the City game, Lacazette trudging around when we’re 1-0 down, Gabriel charging people down… give legs today. Take a chance. If Lacazette drops another 4 out of 10, we’re in trouble.
Defence is also going to be problematic. I don’t think anyone is seeing it at the moment, but new signing Gabriel has been bad. His form has dropped over the past few weeks. We need a shift from him and 100% concentration. Same for the rest of them. Where do we go with the defence? Do you opt for Hector with his terrible form? Do you risk Soares? Whatever he puts out there, it has to play a focused game because Chelsea are lethal. Surely we don’t play David Luiz? We all saw him digging out Mo in the last game. That is Luiz, deflecting responsibility in full view of everyone. Behaving like that was part of the non-negotiables, I hope he’s not there today.
Mikel sounds like he’s in bad shape. I’m not surprised. This season has been dreadful and I’m sure he had far higher hopes. He said this.
“When I don’t do things to perfection and just the way I want it in the timing, I feel like I’ve let people down. To live with that feeling is incredibly hard.
“As well, I have to know that what I thought a year ago that it would be, what I wanted to do and what I am right now; that perspective is not far from where we are.”
It’s a little bit sad to read if I’m honest. Like, what is he seeing that we are not? We don’t create. We don’t shoot. We don’t press. We stopped defending. Our xG numbers aren’t telling a positive story. What is he seeing that we are not? It’s the Emperor’s new clothes, except it’s not a sexy outfit, it’s Steve Round telling Mikel the numbers are good. Still, I think he understands the gravity of where we are.
“The next seven to eight days are going to be crucial to see where we’re going to be heading to in the Premier League,”
“We have to stand up and we have to pick up the points. Let’s draw a line and move forward. Whether it’s bad luck or these things that are affecting our results, they have to change dramatically.”
If the next 8 days go badly, it’s hard to see his survival. The players might be shite, but you can’t relegate a club to make a point… and at that point, it’ll be clear we don’t have the person in place to make things happen.
Today is the moment. Beat Chelsea and hope returns. The players will take confidence, the fans will have seen a performance, and the next games look easier.
Lose… well, let’s not consider it, but it’ll certainly feel like the prison doors opening on the green mile.
P.S. Olise is blowing up at Reading. £8m release clause. 19 years old, the exact sort of player we should be taking a risk on.