Proper football is finally coming back on the agenda and with it we’re getting some lovely little sound bites from our man Unai.
Ahh I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed being able to talk about upcoming Arsenal. I don’t know why but this particular international break has felt like a bit more of a slog than the others.
I suspect the good form of the team might have something to do with it but given that during our winning run we’ve only really ‘clicked’ in the last game, it feels like the fervour has been tempered somewhat.
Nevertheless I’m still excited for this upcoming weekend, even though Arsenal aren’t playing until Monday night, because it feels like we’re back up and rolling and that was of course helped with Unai delivering his press conference updates yesterday too.
By all accounts it looks like we’re all ok from the international break barring of course the fitness of Sokratis, who picked up a knock and will be assessed this weekend but given the form of Holding in the last couple of games, maybe it isn’t the worst thing in the world to see him retain his place.
It would also mean keeping a winning team and Emery will be acutely aware of the importance of consistency in building winning runs. Interestingly he kind of played down some of the talk of a ‘winning mentality’ and for me that’s a-ok that he continues to try to manage expectations. We’ve had a good run, we’ve picked up a few wins and are looking ok from a league and cup perspective, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing and it’s heartening to see Emery acknowledge that.
We all know about his focus and drive on the tactical side of things and that determination is seeping it’s way in to the players psyche too, but until this run faces a ‘big gun’ and the team overcome it, then it’s difficult where exactly to place this Arsenal team at the moment.
We have five games before we play Liverpool and of four of those are won in a similar fashion to the Fulham game then you’ll probably hear me making high-pitched excitable noises all the way over here in West London, but for now it’s important everyone keeps a level head.
There’s still so much of the season that needs to be played.
Which is also why I thought his comments on Ramsey felt like they told a certain story. As Arsène last season with both Özil and Alexis, Unai will find that Ramsey’s contract situation will dominate his pressers for at least the next two months. Arsène used to start off talking positively and maintain that approach throughout, but Emery’s tactic was a little different.
Perhaps it’s just my reading in to what he said, but he massively swerved giving any positive indications that he wants a deal done, or saying that he would be phasing Ramsey our because of his contract situation, not that I would want or expect him to mind. He just talked about focusing on the next game, on getting desire and commitment from players, but also talking about Ramsey from the bench.
He did also talk about whether he might start on Monday from the first minute and perhaps I’m making too much of the comments of Ramsey coming from the bench, but it feels to me like Unai is beginning the process of reducing any reliance on Ramsey. I could of course be wrong, I could have totally got the wrong end of the stick, but it feels to me as though he’s already planning for life without the Welshman and as I said in a blog a few week’s ago when the contract news first came out, I’m kind of ok with that.
I was having a chat with a mate on Twitter last night and he asked me what I thought Emery’s problem with Ramsey was. My view is that I don’t think he has a problem with him, per say, but I do think Emery has been a player in the contract removal from the club. It’s just a hunch, but I think that Emery has looked at the situation and seen that if he wants to bring a player in who is the right kind of style for him, then he will need to make a sacrifice or two and if that means Ramsey goes and frees up wages for a player that Emery knows fits the system and style of play he wants, I think he’ll choose that option.
And hey, if that’s what we need to look a little less disjointed, then who are we to argue?
It does seem a shame that we won’t get any cash for the player though. Especially when you see some of the estimations from the AST about what our summer transfer budget might be in 2019. If Unai wants a few players in he might need to ship a few players out and get some cash for them too and an Aaron Ramsey with an additional year on his contract could have fetched a decent £40million fee at least I reckon.
But that’s all conjecture and we are in a situation where the club are in familiar territory anyway, what with their recent history of botching contract situations, so the only hope we have is that this is the last of the legacy issues from the unspectacular Ivan Gazidis tenure.
For now though it’s all eyes on Monday and how the team line up against a counter attacking side like Leicester.
Catch you all tomorrow.