Well then, what shall we talk about today, then? Maybe what Arsene said during his presser yesterday? Oh, alright then.
Team news is that Mesut is back and after looking like he was going to smash Henry’s record, he still needs two more assists just to equal it. It’s not been from the want of trying during the second half of the season, but what with our terrible attacking play at times since the turn of the year, as well as his form dropping a little bit in comparison to before Christmas, it is looking unlikely. I was really hopeful of him at least equaling it. It would have been nice to see this season be remembered for something. But I guess when it’s done after tomorrow, it’s probably better that it’s not remembered for anything at all, because it’s ended up being a bit of a dogs dinner, hasn’t it?
Arsene was also asked about the departing players and described Arteta Rosicky and Flamini as ‘three big personalities’. I’m sure that’s true because of their age, but let’s be realistic here, it’s because of the perceived lack of characters that we’ve fallen away this season. So perhaps this really is for the best. The departure of these players means that we simply have to replace and when you hear Arsene talk about them being three big personalities, you do wonder whether we will go in to the market to buy experience, or whether he’ll populate the first team squad with more promotions from within the youth team. I don’t mind there being a couple of young players given a chance. After all, look how Iwobi has flourished, but you’re not traditionally going to get younger lads who are going to step in to the team and suddenly start talking to the senior players as equals. So the idea that we need some more ‘characters through bringing through some experience, is good for me.
There was also a bit of speculation about the fact that the press team at Arsenal yesterday weren’t stopping comments about Granit Xhaka. Perhaps that’s because a season ticket renewal email dropped in to my inbox this week, but he is supposed to be a character, not afraid to speak his mind and if that is the type of player we’re going to get, then I’m all for it. Somebody to mix it up from day one of arrival would be a-OK for me. Of course because of all of this speculation, you can bet your bottom dollar that we won’t get him now. Sometimes it feels like Arsene doesn’t follow through with deals just because of all of the media speculation around them.
Whether he will follow through with another bit of media speculation – the contract extension he’s supposed to have been offered but which he denies – remains to be seen. He flatly denied it yesterday, perhaps sensing the response it might get from some corners of the Arsenal fanbase, admitting only that he’ll consider his position at the end of next season. I get that and to be honest, I’d be fine with that, because we’re in a similar situation to when he signed his last extension, which was getting to the point in which the fans wanted him out unless he’d won a trophy. He did that, signed an extension, and here we are two years later and we’re at a similar tipping point. The only difference is that he has to win the league. The FA Cup or League Cup would no longer suffice for us Arsenal fans.
I must admit, for me it’s all about the league, that will determine where I’m at come this time next year. At this point in time I don’t believe he has the capability of winning us a league, which is why I am of the view that his Arsenal time should be drawing to a close. But if he won the league next season, as far as I’m concerned all bets would be off. If he wins Arsenal the league he proves that he can still do it, so I wouldn’t be averse to seeing him stay on for another couple. But that is a fine margin. Second place isn’t enough. Second place by one point, winning the FA Cup and League Cup combined still wouldn’t be enough. He has to win the top prize, otherwise he’s done in my eyes.
He did pull out the old ‘yeah it’s a missed opportunity, but look at all the other teams that failed’ when talking about Leicester and why our season has been so poor, which I expected. But it’s more so for us because we actually looked like we were the closest of the big teams to winning it. One of the reasons other teams fans may not be as angry as ours too, as I’ve said before, is that they have all seen their team win the league in recent seasons. I think it was only four years ago United were winning it. Chelski won it last season. The season before that it was City. If we’d have won the league within the last couple of years you’d probably have many of us disappointed, but we’d probably have found it easier to get over. So I don’t buy the ‘yeah but’ excuse making from the manager I’m afraid.
Le Boss was also asked about the Euro’s and he specifically referenced Daniel Sturridge as one to watch. A sign of a player that he might be interested in? I doubt it. He’s certainly got the injury record, but Liverpool wouldn’t let a player like that go, not unless it is for mega money and quite frankly I don’t see Arsenal paying over the odds to buy an injury-prone striker. I think he will go for a striker and whilst Arsene was as non-committal as you’d expect, he did admit that they would have to consider a signing because of the length of time Welbeck is out, which is a close as we’re all going to get for him admitting that a player needs to be brought in. I think that is very much a ‘watch this space’ situation.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for today. Let’s hope for a win tomorrow to sign off, so I’ll be back with a match preview for then.