Listen, I simply won’t tolerate it on this website. I will not have you laughing at Aston Villa. They are trying to be elite, people. It’s not funny that the team that went to great lengths to extract Emile from us this summer has now lost 5 games on the bounce in the League. I don’t think it’s amusing to point out that the last time they tasted victory was September 18th. Don’t even dare try to trigger me by saying ‘only two teams have conceded more than Villa this season’ (20) because I like Emi Martinez and he’s dealing with separation issues. None of this is funny and I truly hope their ‘elite’ summer signings some of our fans were pointing at come good… especially those that said they’d prefer Danny Ings to Alex Lacazette.
Now we’ve set the ground rules, can talk about what needs to happen tomorrow? Yes we can.
We need a win.
The club has done a lot of very good work in Phase 3. My target was 10 from 12. If we do the business against Watford, we could be on for that exact number. I suspect that a win will put us firmly in the top 4 mixer. West Ham has been one of the standout sides in the Premier League this calendar year, but I think it’ll be very, very tough for them to take 3 points off Liverpool. United were bounced 2-0 by City (lolololol). That’s as far as it goes for top 4 competition right now.
Win the game should be top 4 proper. No post-Christmas tables for us. That is GOOD news. Not that I want to hang on that post-Christmas table, but are we about ready to admit that the form was more predictive than many gave credit for? 5 months of continuous form was always a good sample, amazing that it was a debate. But, we were in a world where people were getting upset by the use of the word project, so there we are.
The Watford game is very winnable, but the focus simply has to be there. We don’t want the players reading too much of their good press and Arteta needs to make sure they know that you have to show up, even in the games that aren’t sexy. You make top 4 by racking up points in the winnable games. This is the sort of game that should start to form bread and butter, but I’m not sure we’re there yet.
The team has had the luxury of a week off again. There will be a full squad to pick from. I’m not sure there’s much reason to change what is working. There is always the challenge of finding balance. A squad is a living being. If you only water part of it, the neglected areas can wither and die. That’s why there might be some rotation at some point. Martin Odegaard might get some minutes and we could see some changes elsewhere.
Or maybe we’re in ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ territory. I don’t know, I’m not the coach, leave me alone.
Arsenal are making a big deal of Arteta’s first 100 games on the .com. It’s been a literal rollercoaster. But finally, it looks like we’re getting some traction as we head back up the table.
Has it been a success so far?
Depends how you want to frame it. On a football level, it hasn’t been… yet. But I think the Arsenal project so far has been bigger than results, it’s involved more people than just the coach, and it’s been harder work than anyone suspected it would be.
We’ve shipped out a lot of bad eggs, about 21 I think.
We’ve weathered the most consequential mitigating circumstance in sporting history.
We’ve brought in a whole batch of new players that are young, vibrant, and full of character
We continue to give chances to an exciting group of Hale-Enders.
We sacked our Football Director.
We pivoted hard on a new, more modern strategy
The culture at the club has taken a huge reboot.
Arteta is talking about ‘unity’ as the identity he has at Arsenal. I’m not quite sure that’s an identity, but it’s certainly the output of a lot of change, and we can see it on the pitch. We can even see it by the deals that are getting signed by players. Last season was about the young players pulling us to higher levels, this season, it’s about everyone doing that. So you have to salute the work and hope it lasts. Whatever happens with Arteta, you can’t deny that he’ll leave the club in a better state than he found it. Could you say the same of Jose Mourinho who joined Spurs at the same time? How about Carlo Ancellotti? How about Ole G at United?
Arsenal took the hard option when they went with Arteta, but the upsides still feel more tantalizing than if we’d moved on Rafa Benitez. We took the hard option on transfers this summer, fans went nuts about the deals, but it’s hard to deny the direction was wrong. We’re still on a long-term path and that will come with some pain, but this sustainable approach, when it finally delivers, will have us competing at the very highest levels for the very biggest trophies.
It’s exciting. There are no victory laps, but if you have a good plan, good ideas, a good culture, and everyone is united around the singular mission… you have a chance of doing great things.
So let’s see where the 100th game goes.