Well, the mood today is feeling pretty sexy, no?
West Ham United did a few things that really pleased me:
- They changed out 6 players for Chelsea, preserving legs for Europa. That means their sole focus is that tournament. There’s no way they go with a decent team against us, just no way.
- They lost. Arsenal are now 8 points clear having played one game less. They aren’t fighting for Champions League or Europa via the Premier League this season.
- Craig Dawson, their only centre back, was sent off. West Ham can either rush injured players back, or they’re going to have to accept a very rough afternoon against Arsenal.
This is the Premier League, nothing is ever guaranteed, just look at Everton giving Liverpool problems today… but as things stand, we couldn’t ask for a better set of ingredients heading into that pivotal away game next week.
How about Spurs? 10 days ago, people were falling back on basic bitch analysis saying that Antonio Conte was a proper manager, Arsenal shouldn’t have fucked around with a rookie that makes mistakes, and we were doomed. Well, the manager that apparently doesn’t make mistakes has conjured up a miraculous 0 shots on target against Brentford and Brighton, with a fit Harry K and Son, accumulating just 1 point in the process. Where are the ‘ARTETA MAKES MISTAKES’ merchants? WHERE ARE YOU? If Conte is making mistakes, can we maybe accept that all managers make mistakes?
To make matters even MORE delicious, French media is running stories that Conte has dropped his pants and presented himself to PSG last week. He hates it a Spurs, we know that because we watch his pressers and listen to him. He was a disaster hire even if they do get 4th. It always ends in destruction with him. He’s tasted Clover Club like establishments all around the world, now he’s being asked to eat a cold hamburgers from McDonald’s at Spurs. That’s not him.
So who is ready to have a very serious conversation with me? Antonio Conte is only where he is with Spurs because of Harry Kane. If Harry is man-marked, Conte has nothing. Outside that, he has been the luckiest manager in the league this season. The only people who truly believe Conte is performing miracles are those that don’t spend any time watching Spurs play. They were absolutely battered by Brentford yesterday, it was embarrassing, I can’t believe they didn’t lose.
There are 5 games to go, nothing is wrapped up, there are still twists and turns to come… but we are back in the driving seat with the opportunity to MAYBE go into the Spurs game not needing to win the game.
I would hand the 3 points to Spurs for their Leicester game, though Brendan is capable of springing an unexpected tactical masterclass. But would I put money on Spurs turning over Liverpool at Anfield? I wouldn’t.
Things aren’t going to be simple for Arsenal. Bukayo Saka, the man with 16 g/a this season, which is better than Salah, and one short of KDB, is rumoured to be out for two games. That’s not great news for Arsenal, but we could absorb the loss if Pepe shows up and wants to prove a point like everyone else in the squad has. We could also work something out between Gabi, ESR and Odegaard.
The long and short is we have to find a way, like we have done all season, because we have done the hard work beating United and Chelsea. Don’t fuck it on West Ham and Leeds United.
THE DEFENCE OF TAVARES
Listen, the young lad is a reincarnation of Emanuel Eboue. Explosive, clearly talented, but mega CHAOS. You had it all against United. A goal, a penalty give-away, some powerful runs, some good passes, some shocking decisions, customary row Z shots. He’s not at the level we need right now… but he’s young, and 95% of you, myself included, bitched when Arteta put Xhaka in his place. This is our punishment. This is Arteta performing the ‘if you, the fans, know so much, then here it is.’
It’s important to support Tavares. Arteta had it right. We all sit there, fat, overweight, shit at sport… insisting we’d make better decisions against United in a MUST WIN game. It’s easy to be an armchair player. Tavares has to suffer to get better, and as a result, so do we. Slandering a kid online is shitty behavior, we are better than that, and we have been SO wrong on other players. Granit, BIG MO, League One Eddie, to name but a few. They are all part of the unit taking us to the promised land, so hold back the mean tweets, and be grateful they are all trying their best, because it could be enough this season.
I did a podcast with Johnny earlier and we landed on the mistake of not signing a striker in January. I can’t tell you how much I disagree with that take. The striker we needed was the England U21 record goalscorer who did the job against Chelsea. If he’d been given all the games from January, you’d have at least 8 goals.
Remember these points when thinking about January:
Point 1: We went hard for the most expensive striker available in January and lost out based on dodgy agent fees. The player wanted Arsenal, but he was pushed by his agent, now he’s rumoured to be unhappy about the horrible Allegri system he’s struggling in.
Learning here: We had the money, the intent, and we went for it.
Point 2: Some think we should have signed any old backup striker just to give us a body. Again, this sort of point is basically a brand statement, not a sporting statement. Fans just wanted it to seem like we were doing something but if you buy an average backup in the short-term, you pay in the long-term. No player moves for a bad deal in Jan, so you are tying someone in for 3 years. That potentially blocks a kid, it lowers the standards at the training ground, and it can cause friction when that average backup isn’t getting minutes. There will also be better back-ups in the summer. Which striker moved in Jan that you thought was a miss? Weghorst… 29 years old, a poverty Giroud, 2 goals in 15 games? Fuck that.
Learning here: A body for body’s sake gets you Pablo Mari. You pay for that in the end. We are a CL dreaming club. Shitty backups aren’t the way forward. Second learning, who signed a banger of a striker in Jan that we missed out on? Ashley Barnes? Any other names?
‘BUT THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOMEONE’ doesn’t rub for me. We had £60m available. If there was a player that could have made us better, he’d be at Arsenal right now.
Point 3: It is better to delay signing a banger of a striker a year than sign someone that doesn’t fit the profile you need to go right to the top. Wenger did exactly that once, he crippled us by waiting for… Chamakh. Right idea, wrong execution. We are looking for a very specific type of player, there are probably only 5 or 6 that fit the bill, these players are at clubs competing for things. We have delayed the purchase because we get one shot at this. Stan K won’t keep spending money we don’t have. This striker is the most consequential striker signing we’ll make this decade. It will define us, shape our success, and orient where our spending goes in the future. Next season, you will look back on our lack of movement in January and thank the GODS of football we didn’t do something stupid because we will be a different beast next season.
Learning here: Just because you can buy someone, doesn’t mean you should. Fans live in the moment, window to window, football clubs have to be bigger than that and look at the long game. Arsenal has finally learned to be smart.
THE SHORT TERM BIG PICTURE: We are in control of 4th, with 5 games to go, with the youngest manager in the league, with the youngest squad in the league, without having had access to an elite striker all season, with 3 of our best players out injured, with the worst goal scoring record in the top 7.
Add an elite striker and a blockbuster midfielder to this squad and do nothing else… we are a top 4 team next year.
Bukayo Saka is already pushing KDB and Salah for numbers.
Martin Odegaard has created the most chances in the league since November.
Thomas Partey is one of the best midfielders in the league.
Our defence will be so much better next season.
Arteta will get sharper tactically, he’ll hopefully rotate the squad better, and he will just improve.
Bill Saliba is going to be at Arsenal next season, don’t panic, he’ll sign a new deal, he’ll give us better options when our key defenders are flapping.
Our inexperienced players are all developing Arsenal Winning IP as they fight nerves, physical drain, and emotional wreckage. They will come back different men next season.
Here’s the cut of it… if we do get top 4, the confidence in our very small camp will be absolutely off the charts going into next season. There is a chance for us to compete for 3rd next season, those players will believe they have a right to eat at the big boy’s table.
This season will be a success however we finish, Europa was the target, no one in Arsenal leadership gives a shit if Arsenal fans changed the target. Anything above that is MASSIVE and ahead of schedule.
If we hit our stretch goal, it will be so, so, so special and it will turbocharge our plans.
So let’s take a moment to enjoy that United victory, then regroup and focus on that West Ham game.
It. Is. Huge.
Now listen to our podcast and marvel at how funny Johnny is. Also, we wanted to thank you again for listening, we had our best week ever for podcast listens, and we also got our first deal to do read-through ads. We know we’re not Arseblog or Arsenal Vision, but it was cool regardless, it means we’re showing up on media agency listener tools. So thank you. We are going to do a Patreon package next season that’s a mix of editorial and extra podcast content.