Morning folks and welcome to the end of another week. It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong for me this week because, having had to suffer through the debacle up at City – inspired by our clumsy Brazilian centre half – last night I spilt boiling hot vegetable oil on my fingers, so this morning i’m suffering with my typing as the blisters start to irritate.
Maybe this is some kind of higher powers way of giving me the ‘darkest before dawn’ speech, so that when the team rock up at the Amex tomorrow, they’ll be firing on all cylinders and ready to give us one heck of a performance against Graham Potter’s men.
It’ll need to be and Arteta knows that, citing the fact that maybe it was a good thing to play a game so quickly after the City match, in his presser last night via Zoom. If only his team were as good as his press conferences, eh? He nails it every time and do you know what, I believe in him, so hopefully those players do more than anyone too because we need to see a reaction tomorrow afternoon and Arteta knows that. He talked about ‘revenge’ and that’s the kind of rhetoric that I want to hear. I want to hear the players are hurting, are more determined than ever, are angry and will react in the right way that will see us pick up wins.
He did confirm how tough it will be, especially given the fact we’ve lost three players for the game, two on a long term basis and in terms of Mari it sounds like his season is over. Which means we have one heck of a gamble Arsenal will be taking if he ends up signing. But as well as that when you look at the options at centre half, we’re now at the stage where we’re down to ‘the bare bones’ after literally one football match. We’ve talked about the sheer volume of centre backs there are at the club, but only Arsenal can have an army surplus supply of players in one position and still face a crisis. As it stands we have Sokratis a question mark, Luiz suspended, Chambers injured, Holding still not 100%, whilst Mavropanos is on loan and Saliba is not eligible. If you also include Mari on that list it’s an Arsenal team with eight centre halves on the books, yet only one is guaranteed to play in Mustafi. Absolutely crazy unlucky and Mikel must be wondering what he has done to deserve such a start to managerial life because he seems to have had challenge after challenge hit him as a manager since he joined.
But to be fair to him he’s taking it in his stride, he’s talking about how important it is not to use excuses, he’s seeting expectations on his coaching ability as high as those of the players he wants at The Arsenal.
Whether one of those players is Mesut Ozil long term I don’t know and whilst Mikel left the door ajar for the German in the presser yesterday, we must all have questions now as to whether Ozil himself walks through it. Arteta explained that Ozil was simply ‘not ready’ and rather than fitness it sounds like it is clearly an attitude problem that the manager has seen. That’s Emery, Freddie and Arteta who have all now had run ins with the playmaker and whilst I’ve stood behind him and back him at times because of his talent, you simply can’t ignore those numbers. Will it be ‘three times and out? Feels like it’s close to me to be honest. But whilst that massive contract still sits tucked away on Mesut’s agents cloud storage, he’s going to be an Arsenal player and that means Mikel has to find some way to get him involved. We may not like it but you can’t just have an £18million a year asset that just sits in the corner rotting away.
It is up to Mesut though. He won’t gain many followers by sitting around not playing, not putting the effort in, posting the occasional provocative tweet here and there. This isn’t like Emery; people aren’t siding with him that I can see, so it is a battle he won’t win with the fanbase.
So it’s time – once again – for there to be some bridges mended and they need to be mended by Ozil heading over to Arteta’s side of the water, not vice-versa. We don’t know because it’s only been a short period of time, but Arteta doesn’t feel like a guy who will flip-flop like Emery. He feels like a guy who will leave Ozil out unless he gets the outputs that are right for the team. And I’m all in on that opinion.
The main other talking point that I thought i’d pick up on today was David Luiz and what I feel is becoming more obvious with every passing day is that the guy won’t be here come 1st July. Arteta is playing a straight bat and saying he wants the player at the club, but let’s be honest, the club can’t do another £200k-per-week deal and if it’s not happening because Luiz wants two years, then i’m afraid it’s cheerio, thanks-but-no-thanks, on your way son. He hasn’t been that amazing that we should be biting his hand off to pay that money and whilst it will feel like making life hard now with the options we have, when this season of essentially glorified friendlies is over, that’s wages that can go into better players who will make more of an impact. That’s the ‘no brainer’ for me.
Right, I’ve waffled on long enough, so I’ll take a stop there and catch you peeps tomorrow morning with some kind of match preview.