Hope is a wonderful drug and damn did we just hoover up a couple of grams of it off the bathroom floor.
United LOST to Sheffield United.
Villa LOST to Burnley.
IS THE DOOR OPEN TO TOP 4?
Well, technically yes.
Remember, the objective of the club was always to be within spitting distance of top 4 come the end of February. Where are we? 5 points off 4th after 20 games.
Sure, there are plenty of teams that could bypass us, but however you cut it, we’re a 5 game winning streak away from being very competitive.
At this point, the season becomes a cup run. By ditching the FA Cup, we have given ourselves enough breathing room to stay fit and focus on two potential entries into the Champions League. We can make it the old fashioned way or we can win a very competitive Europa League.
After the disgusting run we had in December, we in no way deserve anything this season, but we are where we are, and things are CERTAINLY looking up.
Firstly, we have options for creativity. Arsenal finally landed Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid on a 6-month loan deal. The Norwegian is one of the best creators in La Liga, he has a saucy pedigree, and Arsenal are very likely looking at the longterm with this guy if he comes good. This is a superb piece of business from Edu, it really is. What impresses me the most is the easier sell to the fans would have been Eriksen or Isco. This was a harder decision with a long view in mind. That takes courage and I’m glad we did it. It shows we’re learning after our summer fiasco with Willian.
The new boy doffed the cap to his new leader.
“I spoke to him before coming here, of course,”
“That was very important for me and he seems like a top manager and I liked his ideas, the way he sees football and also the way he is.
“He gave me a great feeling and that was important for me to come here. He was crucial.
“I think every time you go to a new place, you want to make sure that it feels good and that there is a plan. But I think everything here just seems good.
“I like the club and I always liked the way that the club wants to play. Everything about the club and now how the manager wants to play, I think it’s a club that really suits me well. So I think it’s a good match.”
I know we shouldn’t read too much into what players say about the words of a new coach, but let’s be real here, he was going to Sociedad until he landed the Mikel call. Arteta is very good at selling a vision, the question is still out if he can deliver on it, but at least he’s tempting players to join him on his quest. Another little basic, but Arteta doesn’t just sell himself, he sells Arsenal, because he loves the club. That’s important.
If you want a superb breakdown of the players, check out the BTL scouting report on him here.
I’m hoping there’s a deal to be done for a left-back but after the solid showing from Soares, maybe we don’t need to worry about that right now.
Transfer wise, it’s been a strong window.
We’re also witnessing something of a CLICK with the squad in general. There are less unanswered questions. We know Willian is not going to cut it. We know Saka is best in the front three. We know ESR can take on senior levels of creative responsibility. We know Pablo Mari, Gabriel, Rob Holding, and David Luiz are our center-back 4. Bernd Leno is a world-class goalkeeper and our back-up is Premier League standard.
We now know that the future of the Arteta system is about young, intelligent, energetic players ready to do the work.
We know that Mikel Arteta does NOT intend to play shit football. He has found the right blend of players that give us defensive control and attacking flair. Still a long way to go, but we can finally see what the vision is.
The squad is finally fit. Say what you will about the first half of the season, but even the most ardent #ArtetaOut fan has to cede that we had problems with injuries. Thomas Partey is a fucking dream midfielder, he’s hardly played, he will be a difference-maker. ESR was injured. Gabriel Martinelli was injured. Those players change the dynamic of who you are.
We’re also fitter from a mentality perspective. Mesut, Sokratis, and Saliba were all problematic. Now they’re out the picture, the strength of the outcasts has weakened. The power of David Luiz and Willian has also been put in check. There can be no big dick swinging when you are a peripheral player and no cheerleading misery from pissed players out of the squad. That’ll be huge for the atmosphere.
Now, all of this feels very positive, but it’ll still be really tough for us to make a mark on our objectives. We’re one or two injuries away from disaster… but the hope is we’ve had our ground zero moment and the rest of the season will see a bit more joy.
United on Saturday is going to be huge for us. We beat them earlier in the season before falling off a cliff. Can we repeat that form? Can we really put a stake in the ground and show that we can manage the nerves of a big game on a good run? Can young players step up again? Can Thomas Partey and Auba lead the charge? So many questions are ready to be answered and I can’t wait… and that’s the plus, right? Looking forward to Arsenal again.
Right, see you in the comments.