Hello Saturday, my old friend, how are you feeling? Happy St George’s Day to you, although you wouldn’t really know it, what with nobody in England making a massive fuss over it. Or at least making it a national holiday. Hopefully well enough for you to grant me a relatively uneventful journey up to the North East, for this afternoon I travel up to Northumberland to spend a bit of time with the family, followed by a visit to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland versus Arsenal.
Given that Arsene sort of did his pre-match presser on Thursday after the West Brom game, there’s little additional content that has come out ahead of the away trip. He’s of the view that it will be a tough and physical game with the outside possibility of Jack Wilshere playing, with the fact that we are playing on Thursday and Sunday making no impact on the performance of the team. I Found that comment to be particularly interesting, because he even went into detail about how UEFA have conducted studies that suggest that many teams across Europe actually pick up more points after an midweek game than less. Of course you’d expect that to be the case, because the teams in Europe are those at the top of each division and so normally win more games than they lose, but that’s not why I found his comments interesting. I found them interesting because quite often we have heard Arsene talk about how the team is ‘jaded’ or perhaps the physical stresses on the side from midweek games have had an impact on the flow or performance of the team. So with one comment on Thursday he has effectively stated that it shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference on team performance if they play in midweek compared to the weekend. He’s effectively contradicted every time in the past that he’s put a lackluster display down to Champions League exertions. I found that quite an odd admission from the manager, I have to say.
Still, at least he’s talking up the urgency of finishing fourth, with ominous signs about how the Euro’s are longer than normal and so the pre-season is shorter with his team. I hope that isn’t the start of the inevitable “it is hard to buy players during a summer when a major tournament is on” rhetoric. Nobody else seems to have as many problems. Still, we made it hard to buy players when there was nothing to do all summer, so what do any of us expect?
He’s right about one thing though. Mesut Ozil not being in the PFA team of the year is a bit of a joke. If the guy manages a couple more assists I think he’ll have either equalled or beaten the highest ever tally of assist in the Premier League era. Yet that is not worthy of recognition? Of course not, because it doesn’t fit the narrative, which is that Arsenal have failed this season and it’s been nothing short of a disaster. That’s what the media perpetuates and that is why players are swayed and have not voted for clearly the best number 10 on the planet right now. Ozil has shone in times of darkness for our team, but because he is not at one of the form clubs of the season, he doesn’t get a look in. Payet has had a great season and has done very well. He’s had 12 goals, 9 assists and four man-of-the-match performances. Mesut Ozil has had eight goals, 18 assists and six man-of-the-match performances. I know you can’t tell everything from stats, but in a team that has underperformed, Ozil has still performed, which you’d expect that would get recognised. But not in England I’m afraid.
At least Hector Bellerin got in there. At least that’s recognition that he is the best left back in the league, although you have to take that chosen XI with a pinch of salt, because Ozil is not in it, but also because Danny Rose is. If that guy is the best left back in the league then I’m the Queen of Sheba. Monreal has been a better left back. Bertrand is a better left back. Cresswell at West Ham is a better left back. So whilst I’m pleased for our Spaniard, I’m also not taking this accolade with as much appreciation as I would normally for one of our players.
Arsene spoke about him to the official site yesterday and you have to agree with what the manager said about his defensive improvements that are needed, but he’s already on a very quick upward trajectory on both fronts, so I think he’s on the right track, and we should all be very pleased with what could be an Arsenal player for many years to come. Unless he goes all ‘Cesc’ on us. That outcome will depend on the character, but he doesn’t come across like Cesc, so I just hope he doesn’t have the same attitude.
Right, that’s probably all I can do for one day, because I’ve got some travelling to do.
you have a good one, y’hear?