I wonder if Arsène is looking forward to today’s press conference at all, not least because it is a detachment from the Premier League which let’s face it, has hardly been easy for us in 2017. An opportunity to talk up his decent cup record is probably something of a welcome respite from the likely outcome of dropping out of the top four for the first time in 20-odd years.
Of course he’ll no doubt still get asked the questions about his own future and the contract situation and of course, he’ll bat it away with nothing more than political filler that gives no indication one way or another, but I do expect the journos to approach today’s conference from the ‘if you lose/win the fa cup, will that be the catalyst for you to go/stay on?’ line of enquiries. I suppose it’s one they haven’t wheeled out for a while given the focus on the Premier League so it’s fair.
What isn’t fair is having to watch/listen/read about Juve progressing to the semi final of the Champions League with a manager who has been linked with us. What isn’t fair is that he’s managing a team who look organised, well drilled and know what their plan is. Well, I say it isn’t fair, but it is in fact entirely fair because they aren’t a mess of a football club. So they’re reaping the rewards of the organisation they have as a club. As are so many teams that aren’t Arsenal. Yet here we stand at the tail end of the season still in disarray and still no closer to knowing if the same old same old will happen again to us next season and the season after.
I’ll admit it; I’m envious of a lot of other clubs right now.
Still, we do have an FA Cup semi final to come this weekend and it will be one opportunity to show that the team can actually win a big game. From a tactical point of view I don’t expect Arsène to reveal anything other than who’s available and who’s not, but it would be interesting to see if he gives at least some indication as to whether or not 3-5-2 is here to stay. He’ll want to keep Pep guessing for sure, but if he says things like “that formation was to counter a specific Middlesbrough threat” then you would imagine that he’s going to revert to four at the back. Alternatively, you can usually read in to what he says with specific mentions of players like Rob Holding, for example. Holding played well against Boro and perhaps an FA Cup semi final is a bit to big for him (I don’t think it is by the way, just trying to elaborate on what I think Arsène thinks), then he’ll bring back Mustafi potentially in to the three. Or if he really lays it on thick in relation to the Ox in that position, I do wonder if he’d consider giving the formation another go.
One things for sure, we can’t perform defensively like we did against City in both of the league matches, because that really was abysmal. City have a wealth of attacking options and in the game at the Emirates towards the end it felt like they were keeping us at arms length and just playing for the draw. They won’t have that same level of kindness towards us in a game where the winner has to be decided on the day, they’ll go for the jugular and that will mean we need all of the support we can get at the back!
There’s not really a lot else going on at the moment. The news about Jack was confirmed yesterday and all there is to do with that is to wish him a speedy recovery. I spoke about his situation yesterday and without a full pre season to impress and show that he can nail a starting place I can’t see him establishing himself next season. That’s a real shame because we could do with the original Jack Wilshere so much in our team. He would offer that short-burst drive in our midfield that could be a spark for our attacking build up, but his injury means he wouldn’t even make the first team until October and if he isn’t given games straight away you’d expect him to be off in January next year. Sigh.
Right, off to work I go, so let’s see what Arsène has to say later.