Well, the weekend was very interesting.
Spurs lost. Leicester lost. UNITED DROPPED POINTS LOLOLOL. Everton lost.
Project #Top4 Hope continues, even if unlikely.
What has been interesting is reading a whole number of Arsenal fans trying to reframe the last 5 weeks to keep up the pretense that actually, they were right.
Here’s some things we need to deal with.
Arteta stumbling on ESR as a creative solution isn’t a problem. In the apocalypse, if you stored canned fruit, no one would say… ‘fuck that guy and his peaches, that was luck.’ Arteta and his backroom staff massively rated ESR, they kept him around when they could have loaned him, so ‘stumbling’ on him is a bit like calling the canned fruit guy a wanker for being well prepared.
Reacting Under Pressure
I’m also seeing a lot of ‘he caved under pressure’ with the kids. Well, sure, he changed tact. But when you cave, you generally don’t do something more risky. Going with youth was always the right thing to do, but let’s not pretend that was easy option. The easy option would have been to bring Mesut back into the mixer. To whine in the press about a lack of talent. To stick with experience. Going with the kids was balls out, especially against Chelsea. Dropping Willian and Luiz was a big move. It worked, thankfully.
Also, we live in this weird world where people think changing strategy is a sign of weakness. NO. Pivoting in the face of new information is the adult thing to do. ‘haha, you changed to get to the right solution’ in any real-world situation would not be something that you’d say… because people would call you a fucking moron.
He was close to the sack
Here’s the big one, ‘he only did it because he was nearing the sack.’ Actually, he wasn’t. Not at any point. Arsenal didn’t flinch. They told the world he was part of the longterm plan. They held their ground. This seemed to have worked.
Chelsea is called elite because they fire loads of managers. I think this is an incorrect assessment. Sacking people isn’t elite, it’s a luxury. Players at that club have a direct line into leadership. When things go south, they whine, they’re listened to, they normally get their way.
We are thankfully not Chelsea. Vinai and Edu stuck to their guns and it paid off. The players found out the hard way that they couldn’t down tools on Arteta. The club shipped out the problem players. They totally backed the manager. This might have been because they didn’t have a plan. It could have been that they worried for their own careers if this decision went down the shitter, but whatever it was, so far, it looks smart.
Aston Villa didn’t fire Dean Smith after a narrow miss last season, that decision looks smart right now.
Southampton didn’t fire Ralph Hassenhutl last season, that looks really smart right now.
Brighton didn’t fire Graham Potter, again, it hasn’t fully paid off, but it looks pretty smart now.
That said, if Arteta had been fired, it would have been fair. You couldn’t have argued it. However, it might have set a Chelsea like precedent with the players.
So, moving on. It’s transfer deadline day. The club is in far better shape than it was. There’s a vision forming and the football is getting better.
Today, I really hope Ben Knapper pulls his finger out and moves on the players we need to move on.
The back half of the season is about preparation for next season, which will look a little more like normality.
Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson made a fuss about not leaving last summer. That ‘we’ll be good’ experiment failed dismally. Time to get some game time into their legs and get them firing. There can be no excuses for them staying. They aren’t going to play and we have no cup games for them.
AMN, a player I really like, needs to find a loan. If his beef with the club is that he wants to play as a midfielder, we need to find him a club that’ll give him midfield minutes. I think I’d prefer to see him at West Brom than Leicester or Southampton. He should go and play for Sam Allardyce and be a star. Keep them up. Sharpen the concentration. Learn the lessons Serge G did in the midlands. Come back to Arsenal next season a more mature player.
Callum Chambers also needs minutes. He has a 43 year deal with Arsenal, so it’s important he gets back to full fitness. The path is blocked at Arsenal. I think he could be really useful for us and apparently he’s a bit of a gem at the training ground. Get him to a club and develop him. He was doing great things before that horrendous injury.
Then we need to move on Mustafi. Get him out. He’s played 43 minutes for us in the Premier League this season, give him no more. It’s so sad to see a 28-year-old see out his deal for the money. What a waster.
Unless it’s more loans, I really don’t see the point in spunking money on 30-year-olds. We have cover in most positions. Go with it. No more deals for players fading physically.
I really, really can’t stand listening to Arteta pump David Luiz the way he does. His one true weakness is a men in their thirties. He CANNOT possibly be considering a new deal for a player that was all over the place earlier in the season. You ‘hope’ it’s just fluff talk to get us to the end of the season, but we’ve seen him double down on his love once before, so who knows. That temptation should be killed.
Same with Lacazette as well. I love what the player has given us, but it’s time for the next plan. We need to be thinking about fresh blood. We have to ship him out.
The hope is that we’ll make some cash this summer. Covid vaccines are rolling out, which is superb. That’ll mean fans will be back in the ground. That should awaken the markets. Matteo G will fetch a pretty penny, the Fail-Enders who don’t cut it will bring in good fee, and Torreira will have plenty of suiters. If we can rake in £70m, that’ll give us what we need for a world class centre midfielder and the loan fee for Odegaard for next season.
The remainder of this season is low pressure. Rack up points for a speculative run at top 4 (8 points to 4th now). Try and win the Europa League. See how the team handles the next blip that’ll arrive.
All eyes are on next season though… we need to see the project come together for a full 9 months. Fingers crossed, we’re shaping up nicely.