Here we go. The big one. Unai Emery has his chance to seek out vengeance against his ex-club. The Emeryista are sharpening their cuck talons, the #ArtetaOut brigade are penning tweets to save into their drafts, the whole world is watching for what happens at the Ceramica stadium this evening.
The importance of the tie cannot be underestimated.
A loss won’t see Arteta out of a job, it’ll just mean he loses vital fan capital in the stadium next season.
A win doesn’t claw back the love, but it goes a long way towards repairing the shame of this season.
The game is two legs, but it won’t be treated like that by the fans. There will be no ‘well, the second leg is more important.’ Tonight needs a massive performance. We’ve sputtered in the league for the last 6 weeks. There have been some bright moments, but not many.
We’re roughly 18 months into this project, there needs to be some joy. A shot at silverware is the Fairy liquid to the tarred wings of this season. Trophies have a way of making you forget, like parents with money after they’ve spanked you in a Tesco car park in front of your friends FOR SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T EVEN DO. They are a managerial elixir.
Arteta knows this, I think the players do as well.
Unai Emery has conducted himself well since he left. He called Arteta and offered his team an offboarding meeting, which is rare in football and very professional. He also tried to sell him a house, which is very Del Boy, but also quite amusing.
Emery is a god in this competition, he’s a master over two legs, he’ll fancy himself this ebening.
Arteta needs to show that he’s the better coach. He needs a smarter plan, better-motivated players, and some decisive moments to go our way.
Barcelona abused the backline of Villareal at the weekend. Good movement with variety will unlock chances… but that openness comes with problems up the other end. They have nimble players that can break at speed and unlock crowded boxes. They’ll also be a danger from setpieces.
Key to tonight, we need to have a calm opening 20 minutes. From there, we have to take the game to them. We’re not good enough to play for a 0-0 and a 1-1 would be VERY worrying
I did hear some rumblings that Arsenal is sniffing around Coutinho again for a potential loan move next season. That’s worrying on a few levels.
- It indicates that Odegaard might not be coming back.
- It shows that the club has NOT learned its lesson with older players
- It would show that we’re not even doing the basics like assessing injury records.
Now, the flipside of this is that Coutinho, however you cut it, is absolutely top drawer as a player. He shoots, he scores, he assists, he can control… and he’ll have a chip on his shoulder.
BUT… since April 24th 2020, he’s missed 233 days due to injury. He’s barely managed 10 games worth of minutes this season. If you want to make an impact in the Premier League, you need to be fit.
Barcelona has been trying to rid themselves of him since they bought him.
We have been here over and over and over again, are the club really going to go down this path again? Have we learned nothing?
Let’s make it through this evening before we get too worked up about a rumour that is painfully believable.
See you in the comments.