Morning folks and a happy Christmas wherever you are. I hope it is spent with loved ones and I hope you enjoy whatever festivities you have planned.
Micky Arteta probably will have a token glass raised with the family, but by the sounds of it and judging by the press conference yesterday, it’ll be kept to a minimum because he sounds like he’s putting in some hard hours on the training pitch to prep his players for tomorrow’s game against Bournemouth away. He’s going to do it without a few of them though, as we still have a hefty injury list and added to that appears to be now with Martinelli, who is a doubt after taking a couple of knocks against Everton. The plus side is that Bellerin returns and Ceballos might also be available from the bench but I tell you what, these press conferences are a lot more watchable than anything we’ve seen in a long time, such is the poise with which Arteta delivers. I’ve read the transcript of what he said yesterday, then I also thought i’d re-watch his presser on the video, such was my boyish excitement.
He spoke about the players executing his demands at Goodison Park and also how he wants his players to have a different aggression when we lost the ball, which he said we saw. I guess as we get through the coming weeks we’ll see if that is actually true but the first little test seems to have seen the players react positively to his presence.
Mikel also spoke about Freddie and the fact that he will stay on at the club in a first team coaching capacity and I think that is a really positive step for the club. Freddie has Arsenal DNA, he can help the transition as Arteta gets to know the players, plus let’s not forget that a lot of the young players have very positive things to say about Ljungberg. He’ll be an asset on Arteta’s staff and I don’t think you’ll find many Arsenal fans who don’t feel happy about this move. It was tough for him coming into the team with little structure or back room staff, so to take the reigns and conduct himself in the way he did, I thought was really positive for the club.
But now we move on and Mikel talked about clean sheets from everyone – positive and negative – so I’m going to be fascinated to see who responds to him. Players like Bellerin, Chambers and Ozil have played with Arteta before and so they know the type of man he is. But they’ll know that he’ll be different as a manager than he was as a coach. My big hope is that we see all of the players up their intensity levels as they play for a position in the team.
Whether or not some already have an eye on the exit door remains to be seen because there’s already so many rumours that are starting to appear around so many players. We’ve heard a lot about Xhaka to Hertha Berlin, we’ve seen noises that Lucas Torreira wants to go back to Italy, Ozil off to Turkey with Fenerbache, plus the fact Auba isn’t signing a new deal and there are noises that Madrid are interested, suggests to me that January might have a little bit of movement.
It’ll have to be movement in both ways though, because we do need an injection of some new blood into the team in January I reckon. Mikel will know how he wants to shape his team and I’d be surprised if that is playing in the same style and shape that we had under Emery. So he’s going to want players with the physical attributes that suit his game style and invariably I think that means some casualties. I’d be surprised if it’s wholesale changes in January though and that’s got to mean that although plenty of these rumours are appearing, I’d imagine it’s only one, possibly two, that might move on. Mikel himself said yesterday that he hasn’t really gone into much detail on transfers and I can kind of understand that. We have three games in a week now and we really can’t afford to be looking at January and deals that need to be done whilst there are matches to be played and hopefully won.
I’m actually getting excited ahead of a football match again, you know, which I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s good. It’s exciting to see what type of team arises from the ashes of the Emery regime. Bring it on.
Catch you all tomorrow.