Happy Saturday folks. I’m about to depart to the US of A for a bit of a holiday and so this will be the last ‘normal’ time blog for a while I reckon. So what have we had today then? Or more accurately, what went down yesterday?
Unami Emery sat in front of the press and spoke about Granit Xhaka’s leadership qualities, about how the players voted for him to be captain and now his main challenge is about winning over others outside of the dressing room. I saw yesterday that Stuart Macfarlane – who does the official pictures at the club – was also on social media saying he’d block people who had nasty comments to make about Xhaka. What that tells us above all is that the players are very well aware of public perception and certainly it leaves us in no doubt that Xhaka will also be acutely aware. Even his manager has spoken to him about it.
Look, we’re at the stage where we know exactly what Xhaka gives to the team, we know his strengths, we know his weaknesses. I think many of us will have to accept that but there’s one element of his game that many people don’t accept and that’s his stupidity sometimes. The penalty at Tottenham, the penalty last season at home to Brighton, these brain farts seem to have followed Xhaka around and I suspect even if those were minimised he’d start to get a few more fans back on side. Perhaps the official captaincy is something that will help in that regard, although I suspect many will have a point to argue that he’s been captain in many games since then and it doesn’t seem to have made too much difference in some of the silly mistakes he’s made.
I for one am less fussed the more I think about it. Captaincy is a ceremonial position in this Arsenal team anyway, so everyone should just get on and for those worried it means Xhaka plays very week, just remember we had Arteta, Mertesacker, Vermaelen who were all captains and not getting in to the team. So I wouldn’t worry too much about it if the news has cheesed you off a little.
The team news has also been released and it seems as though bar Smith-Rowe and Lacazette we have a full bill of health for the game on Monday night, which is just as well because going up to Old Trafford is a sore point (or lack of points to be more precise) for many of us and so at least we give ourselves every chance by having a nearly fully fit squad. Of course the fact that United seem to be missing a raft of players doesn’t help either if i’m honest; let’s face it, the last thing we all need is an Arsenal team picking up the usual ‘L’ at Old Trafford when they’ve only got half a team available!
It’s never been a better time to play them, which usually for Arsenal spells disaster, because we specialise in giving teams on their knees a level of hope that exists where previously there was none. Hopefully this can be our year though…
Maybe it will be Emi Martinez’s year too? He’s just ben given a call up to the Argentinian national team and that will give him the world of confidence. He’s just turned 27 at the beginning of September and so is hitting a part in his carer when national team call ups should be something he is expecting, so to get it now is recognition at least for his development, plus his decent performances in the two cup games. We can say all we like about the inferior opposition, but Martinez has looked so calm and assured and I have to say that it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get closer to a first team call up on a more regular basis if he keeps putting in these performances in the cup games. Competition is vital for a top flight team and at Arsenal we need to have players feeling like no position is guaranteed. This call up will give him belief that he can dethrone Leno and it can only be beneficial for us as a club to have him stepping up. Good on you Emi!
Other than that there’s not really a lot on. Tottenham are at home of Southampton and Chelski at home to Brighton, so I’m not really expecting anything other than two wins, but perhaps we can get a nice surprise.
Catch you all tomorrow at some stage with some more random ramblings.