I love the optimism of some players. Well, when it comes to certain players, I might add and specifically, those who have gone from “is he good enough?” to “first name on the team sheet”.
Step forward Nacho Monreal.
Not only has he turned out to be a pretty fine centre half, keeping other more experienced players who have played in that position on the bench, but he’s also been the kind of pro that you’d want your whole team to be like. No nonsense, gets on with it, proven his value.
So when he speaks he kind of deserves to be heard in my opinion. He’s deserved a distinct lack of scoffing.
So he’s been talking about the level of consistency in the team and although much of what he says is stuff we’ve all heard before, for some reason whilst I was chowing down on my cereal, I found myself not rolling my eyes at another “we need to do this every week” comment following the North London Derby.
What I did think was interesting though, was his admission about setting longer term targets, because although we all see the manager talking about taking everything “game-by-game” it is clear that the players talk and when they talk they’re clearly talking about final league positions.
So I’m reminded of last season and how Chelski won the league. After an indifferent start they went on a mega winning streak and amassed enough points to have the league pretty much sewn up, also allowing for a bit of a stuttering finish towards the end, and I wonder if there are too many teams like ours that spend too much time thinking about the end goal.
For that Chelski team last year it was clearly not about winning the league at first. It was just about getting back on the horse and putting a run together after a hammering by us. Then it was about extending the run a little bit. Then it became a streak. Then it became a ruthless juggernaut picking up points after points, before they began to run out of steam by the end of the season.
I don’t think we have the same discipline as a team to do what Chelski did. I also think Man City are walking away with the league and I suspect that they’ll get so far in front that they can afford a blip or two into 2018. But Nacho’s point remains a good one and if the players can in their minds just rule out things like top four, challenging for the title, Champions League, etc, then we might see us pick up some points in the coming weeks and months that could see us in at least a half decent position in the league which reflects the minimum of what we expect.
I’m not too sure about Nacho’s assertion on Alexis and Özil though, especially with rumours that the Catalans are after the German for £20million. Given that Arsenal have already shown in the summer that they’ll blink if given half the chance, if Barca are serious and make a bid for the player, I expect we’ll probably move him on.
The key will be a replacement though. There’d be fan meltdown if we sold one of our best players and banked the cash. It doesn’t matter that the club could have a summer plan for the money that it got for the Ox and potentially Özil, if we’re seen to be visibly weakening ourselves – especially if we are in a half decent position in the league – then that would probably be the straw that broke the camels back for many of the faithful I’d imagine.
Alexis is one I’d imagine we’ll keep though. I’m not sure why, I just have a feeling that Arsène would choose his end product over the German’s, although there have been some murmurings about both going. I can’t see that. I’d like us to, if only just to recoup some cash for a rebuilding job in the summer, but I can’t see it. Having just seen the second time around how much better we are with our current front three it feels like footballing suicide to just dismantle that trio just as we get it up and running.
We’ll just have to see though, because as we’ve learned with our football club, they can be quite unpredictable at times.
There’s not really much else going on at the moment, but Arsène will give his presser at some stage today and I hope we get the usual “I’m rotating everyone, btw” from the manager this morning. We have three games in under a week coming up before we play United and there’s no doubt that he’ll have to choose wisely as to who comes in and who doesn’t. The immediate future will probably see much of the same in Europe and hopefully he’ll confirm that later, but after this game and as we go into the Christmas period, he’s going to have to be a bit more subtle with his juggling I reckon.