Arsène had his presser yesterday ahead of West Brom and you can tell that he’s started to put the shields on full power right now. Even off the back of a 5-0 (yes, I know it was ‘only’ Lincoln, but it was a comprehensive win) victory he knew the general atmosphere at the moment isn’t great and that’s why I suspect he knew he had to play defence against the backs.
Journos are always talking about how Arsène is always there to answer questions and unlike some other managers doesn’t ban them from the training ground or simple send out Steve Bould to sort. I’ll give him his dues, he does always front up, in the pre and post-match respect.
But his answers to certain questions were quite dismissive in the video I watched from the press conference. He said he didn’t want to talk about the protests – probably because he thought he’d deflected enough of the questions after last week’s comments – and he wasn’t too happy about talking about Leicester and Craig Shakespeare. I kinda get it though. We’re ahead of a game against West Brom and the media are asking him a question about a team who a) we aren’t playing yet, b) aren’t rivals in a similar position in the league to us, or c) aren’t seen as ‘traditional’ rivals. The whole Leicester conversation in that press conference was designed to get a soundbite that can be used to beat him and the club with. Heck, we’ve got enough sticks to do that already, so we don’t need any more from the hacks. So the gloves were up and at times he was just blocking yesterday.
Arsène knows of our cataclysmic failure of the Champions League and he knows that we’ve been woeful. So do we. So does everyone. We’ve all voiced our opinions and from what I hear the vast majority want change. But we’re out of the Champions League and it’s the league that we need to focus on. With West Brom being our ultimate focus right now.
And focused we need to be, because we haven’t got an awesome record there and last season we fell apart at their place a bit. The team still hasn’t mentally recovered and I think Arsène knows what’s ahead with a Tony Pulis team. He said as much yesterday. They will be strong, physical, good on set pieces and probably hard to break down. Pulis will make sure of that because he’s played Arsène Wenger teams enough down the years to make sure that he doesn’t have an open game against them.
I’d like to see Arsène talk a little more about specific players on the opposition side that he’s worried about in the press conferences. That at least would feel a little more football discussion and a little less gossip column in these press conferences. It’s always the same tittle tattle each week. I’m surprised there wasn’t a Jose quote grenade lobbed at Arsène to comment on, just to see if it explodes and the press can spark a war of words between the two managers. We haven’t had one of them for a while.
Instead we were treated to comments about Hector and Barcelona, which were rightly dismissed given he only signed a new deal recently, as well as the ‘fake news’ of a Boro Primorac. That’s a shame, I was hoping it was anything but ‘fake news’ because at least it would give us some indication in to the potential departure of the manager. I have nothing against a Boro, other than to wonder what he actually does at Arsenal other than he Arsène’s friend, but it’s time for us to start seeing the wheels of succession planning start to turn. At the moment they’re looking well and truly rusted. With no WD40 in sight I’m afraid.
The Sporting Director stuff, or the Primorac rumours, all helped to get the cogs whirring and hoping that something might change this summer, but I suspect just like Arsenal each year, deep down we all know nothing is probably going to change. Come on, we’re all sensing it, aren’t we? We’re all waiting for the announcement of a new deal, aren’t we? Of another two years of the same stagnation? Some might be putting on a front of genuine belief, but I don’t think there are many that truly believe Arsène can let go. Not really.
Anyway, hopefully at least we’ll get a showing in the FA Cup, with Arsène talking up the fact both teams will be having a go. If ever there was a chance for a 6-6 semi final, Arsenal vs Man City would be it, so grab your popcorn folks. Ticket details will probably go up on the official website today I’d imagine, with the usual ‘three points and you’re in’ for season ticket holders, followed by the ballot lottery for those who don’t. I have plenty of people who I know and would like to go with – Messieurs Neighbour and Fyffe for example – but don’t want to take the risk of going in to the ballot, so will probably have to buy my tickets with one or two others. I do wish there was a way of confirming the successful ballot holders before tickets go on sale. It’s a selfish wish – I accept that – but it would enable me to get eight tickets and get a collective of friends together in one slot. Oh well, never mind, I guess I should just be thankful I’m guaranteed a space.
Ok that’s it from me for another day. Happy Friday to all, and to all a good night/day.