Well, if it isn’t the return of ‘Prickly Arsène’ in the press conference, who we hadn’t seen since at least 2013 I’m sure?
We all knew there’d be metaphorical blood spilt when Arsène went in front of the media coyotes, because they would be sniffing for blood and he looks very much like a wounded animal right now. Who can blame him though? After all, his team did all of the wounding of a self-inflicted variety, on Tuesday. Yet he is the main man to be snarled at. Yes, he brought some of it on himself by his team selection, but I don’t really feel like the sustained verbal interrogation by the Sky Sports presenter warranted as much time as it was afforded. Tim from 7amkickoff sums it up perfectly in a blog he wrote yesterday here.
We know the performance wasn’t up to scratch on Tuesday, but sometimes the wonderful thing about football is that redemption is always around the corner, as such is the case this weekend. But the media don’t want redemption. They want click bait and the half wit that tried to get a rousing out of the manager saw an opportunity to create a name for himself and went for it.
Anyway, let’s not give it any more attention than it has already had, focusing more on the fact that we need to reverse the dreadful form against United. It reads more like a team that regularly sister in the lower half of the division and having read that we’ve only won one in 12 against the Mancs, you’d think that was a record more suited to an Aston Villa or West Ham rather than Arsenal. Are we a mental soft touch, as Roy Keane and Gary Neville (to a lesser extent) have suggested? There seems to be plenty of opinions out there about how our team aren’t the same mentally as that of teams earlier in Arsène’s reign and perhaps they are right, but I hope that the players show their anger on the pitch by getting the right result on Sunday.
There’s certainly plenty of talk from players on both sides. Theo is giving Mesut a talking up, Mesut is giving the game a talking up, whilst Arsène is saying we have no need to be down. Of course domestically he’s right and the fact that a win will put us level with United and probably back in to the top four, would go a long way to eradicating some of the funk that has been floating around the social media world since the middle of the week.
The players do need to take responsibility though. Gary Neville wrote an interesting article for the Telegraph yesterday about the mental preparation he used to have before a United/Arsenal game and he questioned whether the Arsenal players undertake the same level of preparation. It does make you think. Are the players introspective enough 24 hours before the game? Are they able to map out how they will play? And the opposition? Do they map out how they will play?
I would hope so, but I’m not sure, because Arsène takes the view that if his team performs as it should then victory is a certainty. But how often to Arsenal play as they should? How often does any team play to their optimum? I bet in a season you could count the number of games on one hand. And I bet you wouldn’t even need to use your thumb or little finger either. So surely, if that is the case, you need to play the percentages by trying to analyse the opposition and look to mitigate their strengths? That’s what I’d question from Arsène.
He celebrated 19 years in charge and like I said in a blog earlier this week, I’ll always be grateful for what he has done, but is he capable of masterminding another league title and winning games like Sunday by out-thinking the opposition? I hope so. But when you look at the results against Chelski and United and the form we have exhibited over a sustained period of time, it does make a simple fan like me worried that it isn’t just a series of unfortunate events each time, but a common series of mistakes being made by the manager by not negating the strengths of opponents.
I hope I’m wrong, I really do, because I’d love us to win the game on Sunday and the league next May too, but I just don’t see it at the moment.
Make me smile Arsène. Show me you’ve got this.