The big story of yesterday obviously doesn’t include The Arsenal, but as always, when you hear a story the likes of the City one and the magnitude of it you start to apply your own thoughts relating to your own club.
My first thoughts were “is Champions League now more attainable if fifth place gets you in?”
Which was shortly followed by “Chris, Arsenal are tenth in the league, fifth is even an outside bet!”
Bloody typical that, eh? The season where we may actually have a better chance of getting top four than any thanks to an external factor and we’ve already sh*t the bed.
It shouldn’t matter though. I have no faith that this ruling by UEFA to ban Man City for two seasons will be upheld. Football clubs have too much money, too many high powered lawyers who can spin any situation. So this will cost City a bit of cash, but it’ll get thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the effect will be but a few pennies removed from the mega coffers of the Abu Dhabi royal family.
Financial Football doping has been around since Abramovich arrived, clubs have proved they can get away with doing what they want, so that’s that. I can’t believe I’ve seen some City fans complaining that FFP was a design to keep the rich clubs richer. They have literally cheat coded their way to the top of English football. How is that fair to any other team that works within the confines of their budgets?
Anyway, let’s get back to The Arsenal and it’s back to Premier League action at home to Newcastle. Arteta was in front of the assembled press yesterday and he gave an update on the warm winter break in Dubai, as well as team news update ahead of tomorrow’s match. And broadly speaking it’s good news. We have Kolasinac and Saka both fit, which means options on the left, as well as Tierney back on March. It means we’ll be able to field a back four of players in their natural positions for the first time in bloody ages and that can only be a good thing.
Those of you hoping to see Pablo Mari will probably be a bit disappointed though. As Arteta pointed out, he’s still technically in his pre season because of when the Brazilian league starts and finishes, so I doubt he’ll be risked from the off against Newcastle. But given the different options Arteta has I don’t see that as too much of a problem. Luiz has looked better under Arteta and heck, even Mustafi has looked better, stupid brain-fart moment against Chelski aside. So there are options.
Midfield we have a full compliment and there are also options in attack too, with Nelson back to full fitness. I think Arteta has taken a shine to Nelson so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him at least on the bench on Sunday. In his absence Martinelli has been picking up goals and assists so I suspect he’s nudged in front of Nelson in the pecking order, but that doesn’t mean the English kid won’t be given chances. I certainly think that will happen in the coming weeks and I reckon we might also see more of him at some stage on Sunday.
Arteta also spoke about Pepe and how he’s adapting to the league. Given that this season is a write off I think it’s kind of ok that he’s taking his time and I personally think we’ve seen enough flashes to suggest he’s going to be one heck of a player. The challenge – as Arteta pointed out yesterday – is that when you come with a big price tag the expectations are lifted massively.
Players adapt at different times. I remember Drogba coming from France and he was a bit of a donkey in the first season. Adebayor was no great shakes as well when he joined. Both from the French league. But De Bruyne and Salah stepped up straight away. Sometimes it just happens like that. The important thing – again, as Arteta pointed out – is that he’s given the right structure and environment to thrive.
Arteta also mentioned that getting a run of games together as a player is massive and that’s why I am now thinking we might see Pepe tomorrow from the start. It feels like a bit of a hint from the manager. I hope so. I really want him to come good. We all want him to come good. And let’s face it, given the financial outlay we had on him last summer, we kind of need him to come good. We aren’t a club who can just write off debts or players, so we need this transfer to work, which means Arteta knows he needs to give Pepe more game time. Whether that’s at the expense of Martinelli or Lacazette tomorrow remains to be seen.
There was lots that Arteta said yesterday in his pre-match presser yesterday (Tierney, etc), but before I wrap up today I just want to focus on one thing, which was how he said the team were focusing on different setups depending on in-game situations. This is telling, and heartening, for me personally. Arteta has had to deal with the likes of Burnley and the way they set up, or going down to ten men, so the fact that he was happy to be so open about trying adaptable approaches is good to hear. You could say that most managers might do that, but they don’t communicate that; Emery certainly didn’t communicate that to us. It shows that Arteta is comfortable talking about this publicly and if that’s the case, then it’ll be the case even more so behind closed doors when he speaks to his players.
Football matches have so many variables in them that a team well equipped to deal with those will always be successful. That’s what Arteta’s trying to build and yesterday’s comments were just another example to me of how he’s moving us in the right direction.
Catch you sexy bitches tomorrow.