Ok, I’m out of phase one: anger, and having successfully navigated phase two: depression. Today, in terms of Arsenal, I’ve hit ‘acceptance’. I am accepting of where we are as a club and what we have. It’s a much nicer place to be in terms of my blood pressure, that’s for sure.
With ‘acceptance’ comes ‘resignation’ though. I’m resigned to the fact that we’re going through the same motions as last year and the year before. This season won’t be different after all, much like last season didn’t end up being different, or the season after that.
Arsène won’t change. The board won’t know how to change the manager at the end of the season, which is why he has his two year deal on the table now, because it’s the safest option for those who hold the power at the club. We have officially declared “everything that could be invented has already been invented” i.e. there is nothing greater that can be achieved other than the football club we are at now.
So what does that mean in the immediate future? Well, certainly I think it means Alexis is gone. He’s proven that he’s a goalscorer, can do it in Italy, Spain and England, so when the season reaches its end he’ll pack up his things and dogs and look for pastures new. He doesn’t seem that fussed about England or London – it’s not like he has laid down his roots – so he’ll most likely look for a megabucks deal to a PSG or other big club that wins its league every season without any real competition. Probably in Paris or at Juventus.
As for us, we’ll have to find a replacement megastar because after what we’ve been treated to with our effervescent Chilean is a taste of world class and the club will have to spend the big bucks to get that sort of player. A Reus, Aubemeyang, Icardi, something like that. It’ll be another club record fee they’ll have to shell out and when you think about the eye watering numbers, you do wonder why the club don’t just try to give a megabucks deal to Alexis and save the hassle of finding a replacement. Unless he won’t sign because he doesn’t believe the team can win anything with or without him. That in itself, if true, is a damming endictement on the faith the players have at the club.
We also need to find a midfield partnership that compliments Mesut Özil. The guy is clearly Arsène’s main man and is given the freedom of the field to do his thing. I love Mesut, but if we’re going to get the best out of him then we need a grafty water carrier who has power and the ability to actually pass a football. That ain’t Coquelin. It probably should have been Kante, but we all know where he went and we all know how that’s turning out. I think Xhaka is the right man, but he needs a Coquelin upgrade alongside him. That’s not Ramsey. That’s possibly not Elneny – although I feel like it’s looked better with the Egyptian alongside the Swiss, but it certainly isn’t Coquelin. I’m not even sure if it’s Wilshere. I’m not sure how Wilshere and Xhaka works with Özil in front of them. At the weekend we’ve all probably lamented by now that we had a midfield will acres of space between the defence and the midfield, so I don’t see that being rectified with Jack back in the team. As for Coquelin, Arsène needs to move the Frenchman further down the pecking order and find a new ball winner. We wouldn’t have got Schneiderlin from United, but he’d have been the sort of player I’d like to have seen. There must be plenty of those types of players out there. After all, it’s an easier set of attributes to find than a striker, plus as it’s not as ‘sexy’ position as an attacking one is, the price would probably fall into Arsène’s comfort zone.
And yes, I am talking about Arsène in terms of next season, because my ‘acceptance’ is that he will be around for another two years. He’s already admitted to being offered a new deal and I don’t see how he doesn’t take it. He has all the power at Arsenal. He won’t get that anywhere else. He’s of an age where it’s probably retirement beckoning like Ferguson, so I think he’ll want to stave off that thought for another couple of years.
Lucas Perez needs to be given a run of games now, I think, because his performances have warranted it. I’ve accepted that our season is over in the league, so it’s time to start seeing if in Perez, we can have a player who is ready to stake a claim on the left or right. Imagine if Alexis goes, but we have a player who will put the graft in and get plenty of goals? I’m not suggesting Lucas is on Alexis’ level, but nobody was on van Persie’s level when he had his final season at Arsenal. Instead of signing a megastar replacement though, we signed three players in Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud and no matter how each has turned out (two out of three ain’t bad), that following season all three combined chipped in with a similar number of goals to that of van Persie. There are different ways to skin a cat and if Lucas takes over on the left, for example, why not go out and buy a world class wide right forward? Or centre forward?
I have accepted where we are at with this manager. We are looking for top four and a cup run. That’s invariably going to need to be in the FA Cup, so we have to look towards that, which means we should look to see what players like Perez can do over a series of games.
Perhaps you think I’m throwing in the towel a little early? Give me some positivity and reasons I’m wrong in the comments then. That’s what they’re there for.