You and I may already be aware that Arsenal’s Premier League campaign is already run and that Champions League football is unlikely to reach the Emirates next season, but Arsène had to put a brace face on it and talk up how the team will keep fighting, etc, etc, but at this stage does anybody believe him?
They didn’t fight at the weekend. In a game in which every Arsenal player for as long as I can remember has always talked up the buzz before North London Derbies. I’ve heard both English and foreign players talk about how everyone working at the club talks about the games and how important they are. I’m going to assume that last week was no different and yet the players still didn’t show any fight so at this stage, do we believe Arsène that the players will fight in every single game from now on?
I don’t. I just don’t believe him any more. He also told us that there would be an announcement on his future in March or April. Yet yesterday he confirmed that this was in fact not true and that nothing would be announced until the end of the season. I suspect that’s because the team hasn’t gone on a long run of winning enough for him to announce the deal is done. So he’s hoping to go ‘all in’ on the FA Cup.
He also said yesterday that being in the Europa League won’t affect transfer targets. But do you believe him? I know half of what is said in the press isn’t true – sometimes more than half – but the Europa League football will be used as an excuse when the first signs of unrest occur because we’re five days from the start of the league and we still haven’t made the necessary additions to the team. It’s a joke that we’ve ever got in to that position before, but we’ve seen it plenty of time and just like the last few years under Wenger in the league, we can expect this summer to be handled as poorly too.
As for the hear and now, the team news is that we’ll most likely be without Xhaka for the weekend. That’s a blow because it will inevitably result in the return of Coquelin back on to the pitch, but I guess there’s nothing really else we can do, other than pray for the fact that United don’t realise a midfield of Ramsey and Coquelin is as dysfunctional as the Osbournes. Mustafi is back in basic training and so I wonder if he’ll make the bench on Sunday, which would be good news given that Arsène is unwilling to use either Mertesacker or Holding in their natural positions, so is playing Monreal there. Why that is nobody knows and given the journalists are more concerned with sensationalist questions or downright stupid ones like Mesut Özil tarmacing his drive, I never held out any hope that any of them would ask why a left back was being preferred either of to two fit centre halves against the old enemy.
But then again does anyone have half a clue what he’s doing these days? His stubbornness keeps Giroud in a formation that clearly isn’t working and that he doesn’t believe in anyway I don’t think. Yet he’s persisting, probably so he can say “see, I told you I could change my tactical set up, but it’s not just about changing positions on the field so I’m going back to my formation”. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I’m honest. We’ll ignore the fact that you need to mobile players in to a certain system over time and not just do it randomly because you’ve tried everything else.
And when you’ve exhausted all your options and it still doesn’t work? Normally it’s time to call it a day, but when you’ve got a pay rise about to drop for your own under performance, you just need to get your best PR spin going.
Sorry about the negativity towards the manager, but I have at this point pretty much lost all faith that he can deliver anything for Arsenal, although I hope I’m wrong. I’m now at the stage where I hope he changes his mind on the new deal and does in fact win the FA Cup (somehow), bowing out of his Arsenal managerial career as the most successful manager the competition has ever had. But this is football and as you and I know full well, there are no fairytales in football. Not really. That just doesn’t happen.
Anyway, that’s enough from me, as I’m cheesing myself off more than anything else. I’ll be back tomorrow with a bit more positivity.