I had a worry that the summer was going to be quiet on the fan chat front, boy was I wrong. Good mannered debate all over the place yesterday regarding a number of issues.
Let’s talk ownership first.
Patrick Vieira is in the media again talking about the wonders of the Daniel Ek Arsenal vision. Quite something that Paddy would kill his chances of a job at Arsenal to back a bid that has limited chances of success. More to the point, the wind in the Spotify sales appears to have died a death.
There’s some odd news doing the rounds that suggests Barcelona are interested in taking Arteta to the Camp Nou as part of Joan Laporta’s promise to ‘bring joy’ back the fans of the Catalan giant. Henk Ten Cate said the interest is real.
Barcelona is without doubt one of the worst run clubs in the world. They are the archetypal rich kid in the playground. Arteta is certainly the best coach on their list. Other names being pushed around include Xavi and Jordi Cruyff who is managing in China.
Season over. It was like going into the operating theater for something serious. The diagnosis was clear, surgery was necessary, we’re just not sure if we picked the right surgeon for the task.
The best remedy post-surgery? Faith. Positivity. Good vibes.
I can’t spend a summer crying about a very odd season, with historically unique circumstances, that impacted nearly every manager at an elite club.
It’s time to search out the light, hunt out patterns of interest, and rev up that propaganda machine one last time for the boys in red and white.
My base premise for hope is this: We just went through the toughest professional sporting season in living memory. A global pandemic that stretched the physical and mental health of everyone. One that destroyed the basic structure of the game by ripping fans out of the stadium whilst also truncating the season to make amends for TV right issuers. The output? A difficult season.
Gooooooood morning! Arteta dropped some intel about some of the reasons we struggled early in the season.
DEADWOOD DEEPSTATE. Think I stole that from someone on the Arsenal Vision Podcast. Now it is mine.
The allusion was that certain players that aren’t here now were the problem.
I cannot imagine which part-time social media manager on £350k a week that could have been?
I cannot imagine which binned players might have been causing those issues?
I cannot imagine which players exiting might also have had a role?
The mess of the squad at the start of the last season led to dramatic decisions. Those decisions against big names were obviously going to hit the morale of the squad. You’ve all worked with a dickhead who hands their notice in and determines to burn the house down.
‘THIS PLACE IS A HELLISH VACUUM OF PUSS THAT IS GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM’
Actual quote from Sandra from accounts at my place.
The biggest issue, Mesut Ozil, was a problem because he was the king. Everyone knows that when the King is dethroned, you have to kill him, because their prior power will always be a threat to stability. The German was too big for Arsenal at that point, he was hurt by the rejection, so it was clear he’d be a problem internally and externally.
Form has picked up since we rid the squad of bad eggs. Things have been better since we discovered the power of creativity in our midfield. We controlled games far better with Thomas Partey in the side.
Everyone is whining on about how 23 games of form doesn’t count for anything. Well, let’s see how that pans out next season, but also dig a little deeper into some other elements.
Leicester beat us with their only run into our box. We smashed them at their place.
Fulham beat us without having a shot on target.
Wolves didn’t deserve to beat us chance. Self inflicted Wolves.
Spurs beat us off 5 attempts at our goal and 30% possession. It was palmed off as ‘genius’ at the time, but let’s be real, it was luck as shown by Jose exiting the building a few months later.
Burnley beat us off 2 shots on target.
Everton beat us twice.
Villa beat us twice.
Basically, a lot of very lucky stuff happened against some very average teams this season.
Turn 3 of the above games into more positive results and the last game of the season sees Arsenal in Champions League spots in our worst ever season.
Hardly a stretch, right?
Think how much better life will be if we have a settled squad come the summer. Creative players from the start. An Auba not dealing with family issues and malaria. Young players a season on.
Arsenal will sell a whole collection of players. I’m not sure reading the praise of the manager is indicative of who we are keeping, it’s a negotiation tactic. Do we really think Madrid believe their future hinges on Odegaard? Doubtful… but it’ll pump his price. Same for the players Mikel is saying are under contract. We are less desperate this summer, which will lead to bigger fees (or actual fees).
Arsenal will no doubt try and make Martin a centre piece of our rebuild this summer and I’d agree with that. I’d certainly prioritize him over the Norwich fella at £450m or whatever they are looking to charge for him.
Then we’ll go for a right back, which has basically been a dead position all season. A nightmare for many reasons, but mainly because we’re lopsided when we attack. If we can bring Tierney levels to the right, it opens a whole world of possibilities.
Ryan Bertrand is perfectly acceptable cover on the left (Leicester after him, so should be safe).
Then we need to address that midfield. I have no idea who we’ll look for in that role, but hopefully we have another press resistant player that can move in the role.
Shake out the deadwood this summer.
Have a 6 week preseason and bond the leaner group.
Make sure everyone is excited and knows their own personal plan.
There will be no excuses next season, but I don’t believe there will be a need for them.
The players are backing the manager. Look at the vibes in the training ground video for David Luiz’s send off.
The club is going to bat for the first team again this summer.
I think we’re on the up.
Final word for the Edu story doing the rounds. The gist is he was taking orders from someone banned from Brazilian football for corruption when he was over there. I don’t understand enough detail to give a running commentary, but the basics are pretty clear, he took orders, he knew who from.
It shows real lack of leadership to keep quiet when things like that are going on. The guy giving orders was behaving like Pablo Escobar from jail. Shocking stuff.
Subservience to shady characters is clearly part of his operating system.
Speaking up about tough things that don’t feel right is part of any big job. I’d say ‘imagine if that was Arsenal’ but let’s be honest, we’ve seen people fail to speak truth to power in our football braintrust to great cost. Shocking deals, cosy agent relationships, huge wastage that a layman could have predicted.
This story is a bad reflection on Edu, but an even worse one on our leadership. Did anyone check in with people that had worked with him to see if he was a determined leader, or a soft touch people pleaser?
I doubt anything will come of it, but at the very least, I hope Vinai V, Richard G, and Josh K are keeping an extra close eye on who we are talking to this summer. The number 1 interest should always be Arsenal FC, that clearly hasn’t been the case with a lot of the decisions we’ve made over the past 4 years. The weaknesses on show in this story aren’t hard to trace back to some if the things we’ve seen at Arsenal (subservience). It is also a worry that he can be so comfortable working with a man of corruption. It’s a canary in the coal mine. Let’s hope we’re not on the receiving end of one of these stings in the future.
Oh my word, Mikel Arteta spoke highly of a youngster. This on Joe ‘I like to score goals’ Willock.
“I am really happy that things have gone so well because of the potential that he has. I think it was great for him to go away and have a different experience.
“He has grabbed that opportunity in a really positive and remarkable way and he will come back to us, we will have a conversation with him and plan the next years for him.
“And he got the responsibility and the test of going to Newcastle to help them get where they want to. I spoke with the coaching staff there and they are extremely happy because he was a key part of contributing to get the objectives that they had. That’s a real positive for him.”
Getting the Willian treatment out here!
The praise for Joe is nice to read. His goal record has been exceptional, watching him open up a sprint is something else (and reminds us all of Freddie), and it’s no easy feat scoring goals off crumbs in that Newcastle side. Additionally, the fact that the coaching staff has told Arsenal his attitude and leadership has been immense adds to the validation.
From what I understand, focus was a big issue for him and a few others in the Hale-End collective. Maybe a little too big for their boots, thinking they’re all Jadon Sancho before cashing the reciepts. Sometimes a humbling at another club is what’s needed to convince that you’ve got it pretty good at Arsenal.
Sam Allardyce had solid advice for Maitland-Niles.
“If I were him, I’d play wherever the manager picked me – and I’d never turn it down because if you are able to play in a number of positions, then you are going to get more games than if you had one position and one position only.
“Perhaps you don’t want to be tagged as a ‘utility player’ but sometimes those people are played more often than those who are stubborn and say: ‘I want to play in that position and nowhere else.’”
You have to earn your right to play at Arsenal. There shouldn’t be the expectation that we’ll give a season of concentration lapses to kids trying to make it. Fussing over your role at a big club is a bit odd.
I’m not sure what the future holds for either of them, but a loan spell down the table will certainly have focused the minds of both.
The key takeaway from the preBrighton press conference were:
Our position in the league table is unacceptable
There was a lot of bad shit going on between Sept / Jan that impacted that run of games
Those problems have left the club and we’ve generally been better for it
The obvious problems were the players we didn’t eject in the summer. We know Ozil was a nuisance, we saw what Kola and Mustafi did at Schalke (Mustafi binned today), we know Sokratis was a big personality and probably not the best to be around after being ditched.
My one worry is that William Saliba might have been in that mixer. The whining in the press when he landed the move was very aggressive, something you didn’t see from any of the other loanees with arguably a much stronger case for first team selection from than him. We’ll see though. Saliba is a ball playing right sided centre back, his numbers have been pretty decent, hopefully he’ll make up one of the slots that can compete for the first team next season. Still think we’re going to need an experienced name there. Gabriel, who is older, struggled this season, to expect Saliba who has clear weaknesses to come in and pick up the David Luiz slack might be a touch naive.
We’ve been heavily linked with Buendia. This is the Premier League strategy I suspected we were chasing down. The Argentine is apparently hot on the list. I can see why, he has the same energy levels as ESR, but with more end product because he’s older. He’s done it in the Premier League, he did it after going down (shows great focus), my only issue is that £40m is a lot of money for a player that is untested at the highest level. We’re leveling out a lot of money in the most expensive market in the world when there are likely similar deals to be had for elite players in broke leagues.
Still, the other side of the coin is that we really can’t afford a slow start next season. Buendia knows the pace. He knows the requirements. He’ll have a chip on his shoulder to prove he is one of the best. Liverpool built the core of their side on players that had done it in the Premier League, it makes sense that if we’re going with teenagers, we need to have some people that are going to come in right away and offer NOW product. I’d still like to see us loan in someone like Odegaard if that were to happen. We’re not one creative player from beating the fine margins game.
The mission this summer. Improve edge in final third by 20%. Reduce mistakes the other end by 50%. Everything needs to be threaded through that lense. Buendia would certainly help in the final third.
Ok, that is me done, I’ll see you in the comments.