Arsène does his press conference today and lord knows what questions he’ll be asked, but we can be assured that he will give a response that includes the phrase ‘we have to fight’ or a variation of that. The very fact that in our last two games the fight has clearly not been there in the team will not have been lost on the manager, but regardless of whether he thinks this team is up for the fight or not, he has to put on a brave front to the media.
I get that. Heck, I’d probably do the same if I was the man at the helm of what appears to be a sinking ship, but I hope that behind closed doors he’s asking some of those players to have a look at themselves. There has quite simply been no belief at times in these players and their own abilities, typified by a frank admission from Alexis, saying that the players have a lack of self belief at the moment. From the outside Alexis’ all-action style would lead you to question how he could ever have any self-doubt, but we need to remember that all of these players are human. They will all have moments of introspection and if what they see doesn’t make them puff out their chest and believe, it’s a slippery slope, a ‘negative spiral’ indeed.
So at times like this, at times when you appear to be on your knees, you sometimes need somebody to be able to pick you up. Think Cech with Koscielny after the Chelski game at home (I think it was that game?). He knew that there were more battles to come. He knew that you need to be able to compartmentalise disappointments like that game and he knew that he had a colleague who needed an arm round them. He showed leadership in one small gesture. But where is that elsewhere? I’m not sure.
This idea of motivation is an interesting one, because sometimes with Arsène Wenger I can never work out if he’s good at it or not, although usually I assume that he must be because it’s hardly like Arsenal have ever gone on a disasterous run like Chelski have earlier in the season. Things have been bad at times under his tenure, but it’s never been that bad. Yet. So that suggests to me that he must be able to pick players up at times.
And yet I still have this feeling that he’s not really a fantastic motivator. Over the years, we’ve always tended to have these types of patches of bad form and we never seem to be able to as easily shake it off. It always seems to happen each season. When we are playing poorly, it doesn’t seem easy for us to quickly shake it off.
To me, Arsène seems to be the sort of person who is the only guy in the world you’d want to manage a team with confidence. When Arsenal have confidence there’s good football, swagger, quick passing, incisive play, goals, etc. He can make good teams look great when they’re on a streak. But when they’re on a poor run of form, it never feels to me like he’s the best person to drag us out of it.
That’s where we’re at right now. The manager has admitted the team is low on confidence. He’s admitted that they need to go ‘back to basics’, whatever that means, and he’s said that he doesn’t even want to think about the title. That sums up just how bad it’s got. So usually when it’s this bad, you end up getting a game like Villa at home to restore some belief. Mind you, Swansea at home was the next best thing, so maybe what seems like an unlikely game to get any points from might actually be better. Somehow I doubt it, but the hope still remains, and will forever do so as long as I breathe life as an Arsenal fan. Who knows? We’ve been abject against two poor teams in the last two games, so maybe the best team in the league right now – yep, I’m talking about the Spuds and it almost breaks me to write it, but I think it’s true – is a different way of salvaging something from the season.
I doubt it though.
Let’s see what Arsène has to say. Catch you tomorrow for a pre-match terrorthon of a blog as I try to find ways in which flew might be able to pick something up against that horrible lot from round the corner.