Morning folks, hope you and yours are all ok and safe, during the current lockdown. It’s been a real struggle for me to think of words I want to write about The Arsenal but yesterday’s blog about whether we had any world class right backs in our history seemed to be quite well received by most people. Of course there were some people either calling me an idiot or insinuating it on the socials, but as I tried to explain in the blog yesterday, I am not saying I didn’t like any of the players, I was simply pondering to myself whether any were truly world class. Iconic, like the likes of Paolo Maldini, for example. But I guess my question was more about the fact that fullback perhaps hasn’t been traditionally one of those positions that is too ‘sexy’.

Although today the role is so much more important. You only have to look at Man City and Liverpool and the importance they’ve placed on their full backs, to see that. Arteta has already shown what he wants with his full backs and one of the most obvious changes to the team when we were last playing was how Xhaka and Saka were deployed. Arteta knows what he is doing and when we do all get back to life from a football perspective, it’ll be interesting to see what he does.

He’s a guy who very quickly has re-established a connection with the fans, something he recently spoke about in a Sky interview a couple of days ago, and i’ve got to tell you I could listen to Arteta for days. With Unai it was always difficult because of the language barrier, but even after a year of being immersed in the language it was difficult to understand exactly the point he was getting at. Often he just waffled a bit but Arteta is always very erudite. A bit like Arsene, I feel like I can happily watch his videos and I learm something new every time.

In the video I linked to he spoke about the fact he’s planning for different transfer scenarios and that depends on a few variations when everything starts back up again. I’m guessing those variations are of course monetary based, but I wonder if it’s also contract based, because Aubameyang is that little bit closer to his contract running down and a decision is going to need to be made on him sooner rather than later. For me I can’t see how he isn’t sold because we’re going to need cash for a bit of a rebuild job and I suspct the club will look to build around two or three of the younger players like Saka, Martinelli, etc. It’s probably the right thing to do and given the state of our squad with the age profile and ageing players on ridiculous wages, it probably is time for Project Youth 2.0.

We may not get a choice.

And with what’s happening at the moment Mikel also talked about some of those younger players in the squad. As he pointed out there are some that are just on their own at the moment and whilst the older players will have families, friends and probably kids too, there will be those younger players who are isolated whilst in self isolation. In my work we deal with HR teams and one of the big topics at the moment is employee engagement. At this time it is critical and the mental wellbeing of staff is so important. Most humans are social beings and footballers more so, so to have some of them on their own all day for weeks on end can have profound implications for them and their own mental state.

But if the club are keeping them together, ensuring that the players are looked after mentally, then that can have a longer term benefit. It could foster a culture of togetherness amongst a group and my hope is that if Arsenal are doing things right, then there may also be some loyalty that can be garnered from some of those younger players. Perhaps that is just my naive optimism, but in a work context my company have been talking about this on webinars we run, this idea that doing the right thing now by your employees will pay dividends in the long run. So my hope is that some of those younger players will be looking at the way they have been treated by the club and it gives that little bit of extra loyalty when decisions about their future needs to be made.

That’s it from me for today. Have a good Saturday and hope you’re all good.