Sounds a little bit like a track title for an Adele song. BUT IT’S NOT OK? It’s about the game today.
Top 4 was the stretch target this season, especially after the shocking opening we had… but the more the season goes on, the clearer it is, that the objective might not be that outrageous.
You gotta dream big (ish). The power of ambition in an organization cannot be underestimated. It sets the tone, it keeps people excited, and sometimes… it pays off.
Just look at Arsene Wenger when he told the world we might go invincible. Hadn’t been done before. Will never be done moving forward. The ambition was ridiculed, it was put on Spurs market stall merch… but who was the one laughing in the end? Wenger.
Our ambitions are a little lower right now, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Beating Everton would be a very good indicator that we’re less fragile than we were last season. Losing to United was upsetting, but they are a good side, and Old Trafford is always going to be a difficult place to go. We can beat them in the return leg. I don’t think we’d won there in 17 years until last season. Not like beating them is par the course. It’s also not like there crisis was that terrible either. Ralf Rangnick is one game into his tenure and he’s 3 points off top 4. Their crisis is they aren’t winning the league.
Goodison Park? Now, there’s a game that you lose if you’re not Top 4 serious. In fact, it is a game we actually did lose last season, 2-1, when Carlo was there. We can’t be that team this season. Beating the teams below us and around our level is how we’re going to progress.
Rafa Benitez is a very good coach. I’m actually surprised he’s still in charge though. The Director of Football, Marcel Brands, left their business yesterday… so maybe not for long. As I said yesterday, we’re either going to see a big reaction from Everton this evening, or we’ll see a non-reaction if the players can taste blood in the water and they don’t like what they’re getting from the exScouse boss.
Arsenal have injury concerns. The biggest one is ESR. He has a tight groin. Our #10 wasn’t great in the last game. He might just need a rest in general. That’d put a lot on the shoulders of Odegaard, but if we have Saka in the side, hopefully it won’t be too telling.
The biggest reboot I feel we need is in attack. Will Arteta persist with Auba in the side? Or is he going to cave and give his captain some time out? It’s a tough call. If you persist with an underperformer for too long, it starts to impact your standing with the other players. No one is undroppable. If you have a high performance culture and you talk about it… you have to live up to it.
He could play and score a hattrick. He could play and drop another disaster class and make it feel like we’re rolling with 10 men.
Auba is part of the reason we struggle with chance creation. If you striker can’t hold-up the ball and link play, the whole system is going to struggle. That’s why Lacazette has been so important. He brings others into the game. The issue with him is he doesn’t have the speed to be a threat coming deep and holding the line.
It’s a messy balance that needs to be struck… but we have to find a way this evening.
The curve ball inclusion might be Granit Xhaka. He’s making good progress. We know he’s made of iron. We could see him on the bench. That’s good news for squad depth when you hit mid-December.
3 points puts us back where we need to be. Anything less and it’s going to ramp the pressure up again.
December is the month for heroes. Who is it going to be? My hope is Martinelli gets a run again. It seems more likely if ESR is out again.
Let’s see what happens. See you in the comments. Watch our video or plug our podcast right into your ears.