With work sending me across the globe in the last 10 days or so it’s been difficult mustering the energy to write daily Arsenal ramblings, especially when you’re so far behind on news due to the tone zones that by the time you do write something it’s rendered a little redundant, so today I’m back in Blighty and ready to eat, sleep and think all things Arsenal.
And of course my timing is impeccable (not) as I’ve landed slap back in the middle of an international break. Harrumph.
Perhaps it is a good time for the club though. April is about to get pretty spicy given the number of games we have to play and so an opportunity for some of those Arsenal players to recharge will be a good thing. We hope.
The club showed pictures of the players jetting off to Dubai for a
money spinning exercise bit of sun and team bonding and whilst I remain a wee bit skeptic all as to whether it’s the best use of the time off for the players, keeping them all together I think in the main should be a good thing. The mood in the camp will be good after two massive results last week and if the players can maintain their positivity and can use this trip as an opportunity to continue their collective bond then hopefully it pays dividends when we hit April.
It does seem like a group of players who enjoy each other’s company too, which surely can only be a good thing, especially if you’re all going on a mid season tour together. Those players will have the weekend together and no doubt get to do a bit of relaxation in between the PR work and friendly game on Tuesday against Al-Nasr Dubai SC, but the key thing Emery will want to get out of the trip will be to get the players mentally prepared for the April run in.
We play Newcastle on Monday 1st at home and then Everton the following Sunday. Six points there will be massive but Everton are a weird team and despite how poor they’ve been at times this season I still think it’ll be a tough game. But if we can beat Newcastle and Everton coming back from Dubai then it’s massive from a momentum point of view. It means that we’ve carried on from where we left off and ensures that the team go in to the Napoli home game in the right spirits.
And we’re going to need those spirits to be high because that’s a really tough game against a Napoli side who could carve us apart with their attacking options. So we’re going to need to be top drawer to be able to overcome them without conceding. The way we do that is as I mentioned above and get momentum from each of the previous two games. It’s a footballing cliché we all know, but these games have to be treated ‘one at a time’ but we also need to recognise that each will have a small link in how the season develops. Defeat to Newcastle and Everton in the league probably means there would be a much more nervous looking Arsenal when the Italians rock up. Two victories however and we will most likely see an Arsenal team with a bit more confidence and swagger about it.
April will define Unai’s first season at the club. At the end of it we could be staring down the barrel of some meaningless games in the league having fallen away from the top four spot as well as the Europa League. Or we could see a club rejuvenated by its form and looking forward impressively towards a semi final and potential top four spot.
That’s why this trip to Dubai needs to be managed carefully and to within an inch of its life. He needs to get the balance right between team camaraderie, rest and relaxation, as well as concentration and focus of what lies ahead of them. There are plenty of examples of teams heading out for this warm weather training and it absolutely blowing up in the club’s face because the players lose focus. So we just have to hope that the manager has been as meticulous in his planning for this trip as he is when looking at opponents and how his team overcomes them.
At this point I have hope. The team feels like it’s in a good place and certain big game players feel like they’re fresh and hitting form at the right time.
Come on you reds!