I was like, totally off the train… ready to move on. Now I’m ALL ABOARD and ready to go again. I can’t do a summer of misery. I am back on the project and searching out the light. One last time for the vision.
If we win our next two games, the most we can finish off 3rd place is 9 points.
Think of the ways we’ve punched ourselves in the face this season. Think of the clubs we’ve failed to take points off. Think of some of the rough luck.
Since we added creative midfielders, our 22 game run has us in 3rd place.
That’s over half a season’s worth of data. It is now significant.
So, what happened in that run?
We added ESR. Then we added Martin Odegaard. Those two gave us faster movement in the final third of the pitch. They opened the game up for us.
We also added Thomas Party. Before January 14th, he’d only managed 360 minutes of football. He was our biggest signing of the summer. His form has been a bit messy, but reality is, he should have flushed that out of his system by October.
Then think about what we had brewing in the dressing room. We moved on Mustafi, Kola, Ozil, and Sokratis. 4 senior players, all big personalities, all very disruptive behind the scenes.
Mustafi and Kola went to Schalke, staged a coup, ousted Gross, then relegated the team anyway. Do you think that sort of mindset was easy to deal with?
Mesut Ozil went to Fenerbache and has registered 1 assist in 10 games. Remember when he was commentating on games just to be a pain?
During that December period, we also dropped Luiz and Willian. The expensive free transfer last summer never made it back after stinking up the starting 11 for the first half of the season.
Then think about how we’ve lost games this season. Look at the stupid red cards we struggled to recover from. Look at the unforced errors.
Then the big one… Auba went from a 30 goal a season striker to someone that could barely register 10. Family issues, malaria, a lack of form. We signed Auba to a big deal because goals are hard to come by, then we literally got the nightmare outcome, a different variant of striker that couldn’t score goals.
We lost twice to Everton, Wolves, and Villa. We only picked up 1 point against Burnley.
I don’t think we’ll lose 7 times at home with fans in the ground.
Yet, all the above… and we could still finish 9 points from 3rd.
The mission for next season is clear.
Improve defence. We have the 3rd best defence in the league currently, but 38 goals is hardly peak anything. A chunk of those goals were unforced errors, we can improve there drastically next season with better players.
Score more goals. We’re 10th in the league for that and it’s unacceptable.
Fix the midfield with press-resistant athletes that can move the ball at speed.
Find a ball playing centre back that can pick up the slack of Luiz, but without the errors. He made our attack better and we missed him because players like Holding and Mari can’t pass like him.
Find a right-back that can offer that side of the pitch what Tierney offers the left. We’re very addicted to the left side of the pitch, which makes us easier to plan against.
Find some extra ammunition in attack so we can add now numbers and goals. JACK GREALISH would be nice. Maybe even a cut-price Aouar after he tanked his form and lost out on the French squad. Whoever it is, they need to bring goals and creativity.
Unleash Auba. He should be scoring 25 goals when he’s 35. We need to create chances around him and work to his attributes, which is outrageous edge inside 8 yards.
Limit the unforced errors.
We’ve already gone a large part of the way by moving on David Luiz. His lack of focus and dying pace cost us big last season. Dani Ceballos won’t come back. There are also a number of other players I expect will be moved on. Better players make less errors.
We also need to address the backroom deficiencies. There were some awful decisions last season that a rookie coach shouldn’t have been making. Who is going to help Arteta be better with talent? Who is going to challenge him when he wants to try a false 9 in the semi-finals of an important game? Who is going to make sure average coaching is rectified with people that can create a better working environment?
City had a similar issue when Arteta first went there and took a beating from Wenger in the semi-final of the FA Cup against us. They finished 4th. They weren’t clinical enough in the final third and they made too many errors in defence. Everything else was good. They signed Bernado, Mendy, Laporte (Jan), Walker, Ederson.
Those signings gave them defensive stability, but also control from the base of defence where they build attacks from. They went from conceding 41 to 27. They went from scoring 80 to 101.
I think we’re the poverty version of what City were going through. Too many errors in defence. Not enough edge in the final third. But the bit in-between is generally pretty solid. There aren’t many games we haven’t controlled since the turn of the year. That’s a positive to build from, we’re solid and we hold onto the ball well.
Do a budget version of City’s summer and things could bang.
What we need to do has never been clearer. We’re not a million miles away from being a really good side. But… the summer needs to be perfect. Do I trust Arteta and Edu? Not really, but there doesn’t seem to be another option.
So let’s see.
Also, when I write posts like this, we tend to lose. So I’m bracing for impact on that one. Anyway, hope you enjoyed, see you in the comments x