After the game on Thursday Arteta said it’s his job to pick up the players form the crushing feeling of a last second goal in extra time. But actually the man now has the weight of an entire club – including the fan base – with which to lift the mood.
It’s strange though. We’re now more than 24 hours since the humbling against an average Olympiakos team and if I’m completely honest, I’m not as angry as I thought I’d be and I certainly don’t seem to be as fussed that our season is more than likely going to be over pretty soon.
We play Portsmouth on Monday night and it’s a chance to get into the sixth round of the FA Cup, but I’m really not that bothered about it, mainly because there are still all of the big teams in the competition and if this Arsenal team mentally sh*ts the bed against a pretty bog standard Greek side, what chance have we got of lifting that old trophy for the 14th time?
Pretty slim I’d wager. So I’m a little numb to it right now, as I am for the league itself, which feels like the most outside of bets. We’ve been so turgid for so long this season that a top four finish is pretty much out of the question, and this idea that fifth spot is up for grabs is fanciful if you ask me, because City will get their way somehow and be allowed in.
But even if they don’t there are probably one or two too many teams in front of us that all need to fall apart for finishing fifth to be any kind of realistic ambition. Plus we’ve still got a load of really tough games to play that it’ll be a challenge picking up maximum points from, like:
- Southampton – we’ve been bad there quite a lot so this becomes a tough game
- Man City
Yes, we have a few games that could potentially give us all a lift, but if these players can’t have the professionalism and mental fortitude to overcome a team like Olympiakos, then they’re going to trip up against some of the ‘lesser’ teams too.
So Arteta really does have his work cut out for him because he has to turn around this negativity because if I’m thinking it, there must be a few others thinking it, and maybe some of the players are thinking it.
The good news is that I have faith that he’s taking us in the right direction. He’s made a few tactical errors, but he’s a young coach and for every poor decision like a delayed sub, he’s made five or six good decisions. So we have more reasons to be positive than negative.
And that’s what he has to do as his convincing commences today, tomorrow and Monday ahead of the game. He has to pick those players up, tell them they’re awesome (even if for some of them nothing could be further from the truth), put on the metaphorical mental bandage, the. Send them back out there. And we have to hope they get back on that horse sooner rather than later.
He’s got to lift himself too though. This is his first real proper setback. In every game up until the Olympiakos one it has felt like anything that hasn’t resulted in a win has had some sort of mitigating circumstances. Against Chelski Jorginho should have been sent off and that would have changed the complexion of the game. Palace we had a man sent off. Chelski away we had a man sent off. We missed Auba for three games. We had a lot of injuries in January. There’s been so many setbacks that you can chalk off. But on Thursday it was all Arsenal and Arteta’s own doing and whilst we’re all talking about how important it is that the team responds, it is also essential how he responds as a manager too.
I hope it’s a good response. Not because I think we’ll achieve any of the ‘outside bet’ chances of any glory this season, but because Arteta needs it in his own development.
Right, that’s yer lot for this Saturday. Catch you sexy bitches later.