A week off for the players? Wow. I nearly wrote ‘wowsers.’ Do you get to a certain age where twee words like that become attractive? A friend of mine said ‘aces’ the other day. I was shocked. Is language deterioration part of the ageing process?
A week off.
Then Arsenal FC heads into another nightmare crush of fixtures that could open us up to death spiral number two of the season.
It won’t define whether he keeps his job, that seems assured, what it’ll define is how much fan capital he has going into next season.
Managers shouldn’t make decisions based on what the fans want, but they should be very aware of the role we play in their success. Jurgen Klopp is a charmer, everyone loves him, even when things are going off the rails, it’s hard to dislike him. Pochettino is another one, the deep love he commands from his players makes him hard to move on, even when results plummet. The decisions they make and the values they hold are part of the allure.
One of the worst leadership traits is being unable to admit you’ve made a mistake. Willian is becoming a lightning rod topic in the court of fan opinion. He’s shit. He doesn’t care. He has been given more than enough chances… yet he keeps playing. Arteta needs to do the right thing and move him away from the starting 11.
Fan capital is going to be hugely important as we head into next season, because fan dismay will be seen and heard beyond Twitter. That means Arteta needs to start getting his house in order now so his mistakes don’t light a fire with the fans he can’t put out.
You know what gets Arsenal fans in the mood?
For me, our season keeps collapsing around senior players that were given massive new deals. If you took 4-5 players out of the mix we’d have more money, better results, and we’d likely not be asking these painful questions every 4 weeks.
The football is evolving in a direction that excites. There have been patches in the last two games where you felt like this was peak Wenger ball from back in the day. Intelligent players moving the ball at speed with attacking intent. This sort of football, played by young hungry players, is what will get fans to buy into the project next season.
Our problems are evolving in the right direction, I appreciate it isn’t fast enough for some, but let’s take it for what it is. When you have a young striker that’s not scoring, you generally want the one that’s missing lots of chances, versus the one that’s not in the game. Adebayor was like that when he joined, everyone hated him because he constantly fluffed his lines… but then it clicked and he turned into one of the best strikers in Europe for a brief moment.
That’s where this Arsenal side are at the moment. We’re moving the ball into the right areas, the attacking intent is correct, but we’re one pass and a decent shot away from it coming together nicely. If the players were shit, you’d accept that this was our lot, but they’re not. There is scope for the click to arrive.
I think there are some obvious moves that’ll help us find the click. Firstly, let’s get our best players on the pitch. If Tierney is out, bite the bullet and put Bukayo Saka in that position. He was a top 3 left-back in the country, having him there isn’t a punishment, it’ll help us open up teams because his delivery is so good.
Put Martin Odegaard in the side. We’ve only seen about 25 minutes of him but it’s clear he’s the real deal. He can open up the game from deep and he has really quality in tight spaces. We won’t have £100m to spend this summer, so convincing him to join us next year is going to be a huge win for us while we reshape our finances.
Then the big one… we have to work something out with our striking situation. Auba has been out of sorts all season, his family issues clearly haven’t helped, but we need to address it because we’ve gone from one of the most clinical sides in the league to a side that cannot hit the target for love nor money
Again, that can change very fast. Pepe isn’t going to keep skewing the ball over the bar. Odegaard had a great goal scoring record in Spain. Saka, Laca and Auba should all be doing better.
The key to all of this though is fitness… if Partey is badly damaged again, we are in trouble.
Good news for Arteta is the games coming up present a fresh chance to show he has what it takes.
Beat Leeds? That’ll feel like progress.
Beat Benfica? Feels like a proper team, it’ll count towards momentum for the first time this season.
Get anything from City? I mean, feels unlikely, but who knows.
Leicester? Burnley? Spurs? All winnable for me…
We absolutely have to get back on track this season. The green shoots need to turn into flowering trees. The vision must be crystal clear by the end of this season.
If it is, then we’re in great shape for a run at top 4 next year. If it’s not, well, I’ll be promoting the hashtag #GusHiddinkIn.
Just kidding, but something like that.
New podcast. A bit depressing. But it’s there. ENJOY.