The Thursday night footballery that we saw means that this is another Saturday with which we all spend collectively with our families and friends. I’m going to the Royal Mail Postal museum.
But it does also mean that we get to have a bit of a digesting session on Unai Emery’s words which, if I’m honest, I do need to watch a few times before I properly understand what he’s saying. I’m not going to delve to much into his linguistic ability though, given that my Spanish stretches as far as ‘Si’ and ‘donde Es la bibliotheca?’. He’s improving each week and that’s enough for me.
What isn’t improving each week is the chances of Ramsey and Arsenal finding a resolution that results in a new contract and after Rambo has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t know why the contract was withdrawn as he and his team were ‘sort of ready to sign’.
That sounds fishy to me. His agency clearly tried to play hardball with the club because multiple contracts have been on the table over the last year or so and Ramsey has been disinclined to put pen to paper. So now that he doesn’t have a bit of paper to put to he’s suddenly a bit confused? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on. Ramsey and his people tried to give Arsenal ‘the eyes’ and unfortunately the club haven’t blinked and we find ourselves with a player who will be on his way out in the summer.
But I’ve kind of done my piece about Rambo and so I’ll move swiftly on. He’s not the future and so we have to look at the immediate present as well as the future in other players.
The immediate present involves a trip to Crystal Palace and the team news is that we have some assessments that need to be made on our left backs. The hope is that one is fit but if that’s isn’t the case then you’d hope that Ainsley Maitland-Nile’s can find his way back in to the team as an auxiliary left back. He’s done it before, he’s back in to full training, plus anything that means we don’t have to see a repeat of Lichsteiner’s ropey first half display against Leicester is a-ok with me.
Cech is also back and Koscielny is being integrated back in to the first team but I suspect neither will play tomorrow, so it looks like it will come down to which players look the least fatigued following a Thursday night game and Friday travel back from Portugal.
Unai spoke to the press yesterday but there’s also an interesting article on the official site that I read this morning where he talks about the importance of improving the competitiveness of the players. Perhaps this can be put down as quite a generic comment to make; after all all Premier League footballers should be competitive on the pitch, but I read it a little differently. I read it as competition amongst themselves as well as on the pitch against each other team.
That’s what we were lacking last season and that’s what he has brought back. Players are enjoying his way of life because they get more opportunity to play and feel like they’re not playing in a ‘B Team’. Europa League games are being treated with respect by Emery but he’s also not giving the players the excuse that it’s a lesser competition, so he’s mixing the games up with some first team players and some squad players. It’s the right thing to do and I think you only have to look at the form of players like Iwobi and Welbeck to show that the players recognise this as well.
I also like his downplaying of us for the title. Pep might have called it a five horse race this season but I think all of us Gooners are on the same page as Emery. Let’s just enjoy that we’ve started to build some momentum, hope that we can pick up enough points to challenge for the top four, then see how we’re doing after Christmas.
I think Unai knows there will come a time where we’re dropping points and so he’s right to try to temper the enthusiasm because he’s going to need the goodwill generated from this winning run when things don’t look so great.
It’s a good feeling around Arsenal at the moment and long may it continue. Tomorrow is another stiff test and so we wait patiently to see how the team react. Hopefully positively.
Catch you all in the morrow.