When you realise how often some of the ‘big teams’ are screwing up at the moment at the top of the Premier League, it does make you wonder how Arsenal find themselves mid table with 24 games gone, because any sort of run of victories probably gets you in to the top four.
How on earth have we got to the stage where we’ve drawn half of our games this season? It’s crazy. We just don’t finish teams off. But what’s also crazy is that we are only five points away from fifth.
Given the season we’ve had that feels mad. We’ve all pretty much given up on top four I think because a 10 point differential at this stage is probably a little too much of a swing to overturn, but man, does it suck that whilst we have bombed this season it would have only have taken a few wins converted into draws and it would all feel a little different.
The 2-0 defeat of United at home to Burnley made me chuckle, but then it also made me frustrated, because this season top four has been there for the taking and we’ve absolutely sh*t the bed.
But then last night I got into the dangerous territory of “what if”. So for example, “what if we’d have acted sooner with Arteta?” It’s dangerous because it can’t help you, can’t change anything, but drives you nuts. A bit like the Mirror of Erised I guess.
And if we’d have acted sooner – let’s say, the international break after the Leicester defeat – then would we have really have picked up those points?
I say ‘yes’. We had Norwich away when Freddie basically had no staff. We had Southampton at home which was pretty much the same. We had Brighton at home, West Ham away, City at home and Everton away. Given the style and change in the team Arteta has delivered in such a short period of time, I’m wholly convinced that the Norwich, Southampton and Brighton results at least would have been turned into victories. People are talking about how Arteta has only won two games in total so far, but the injury-depletion of the team didn’t happen until just before Christmas. Had Arteta actually had players in their natural positions available to choose from, he’d have eeked more out of this team sooner.
In every game we’ve played under his management we’ve been better. Each march has shown a different side to The Arsenal and certainly the Brighton and Southampton performances wouldn’t have happened. So my gut tells me that we’d be looking at a minimum of being four additional points better off than we are now. That would make the feeling around Champions League automatic qualification very different right now, I must say.
But what this whole situation has done, as a few other bloggers and journos have already said, is cast a firm and strong light on those running the club, particularly Raul Sanllehi. We all know that KSE are absent owners that show no ambition, but Raul is a ‘football man’, and he’s the one we look to for difficult decisions to be made. The fact he couldn’t see the slide earlier, the fact that he couldn’t show decisive leadership, that should be a MASSIVE concern for all Gooners. Because if he can’t make what appears from the outside to be obvious – but admittedly difficult – situations, then it won’t be long before we’re all concerned again.
Right now we’re riding the crest of the Arteta wave of change. So are the players. But that will die down and when that happens we’ll be looking towards the club to be delivering a strategy that brings in more Martinelli’s and Saliba’s, than it does Suarez’s and Kurzawa’s.
Perhaps that’s where we’ll also need to hope that Edu’s influence grows. He was apparently the driving force behind the Martinelli signing I believe (happy to be corrected by those that know more if not) and that’s a big ‘tick’. But more like that is needed and the Brazilian needs to also be able to prove he can deliver talent on a regular basis.
I still feel top four is a way away and as a result Arteta has until the summer to sort out who he wants in the current squad. There’s rumours of Ceballos being on his way but I can’t see that unless we have somebody lined up. We already have a battered and bruised team with plenty on the treatment table. It would make no sense to let Ceballos go back unless we have another replacement lined up. Let’s see how that plays out over the next week.
And with that I shall take my leave. Make sure you remember to have a fabulous day now, y’hear?