So we had Tricky Micky Arteta’s press conference yesterday rather than today, which means we have something to stick our teeth into before this working week is done, which is nice.
It must also mean that the team are making their moves up north today I’d imagine; probably because they got so lambasted by the press for flying up to Manchester for the City game that they’ve decided to walk to the Midlands instead. Won’t get Gary Neville groaning at them on commentary tomorrow evening there, will they?
The press conference had plenty of very interesting snippets though, starting with talking about the win against Norwich and the ability for his side to ‘compete’ for 90 minutes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love hearing him speak. He knows what he wants from his team and he’s pointing out where it needs improvement and, thankfully, it doesn’t leave us as a fanbase going “eh? What’s he on about?”. That’s a good sign and our inability to press Norwich in the early stages of that second half were clearly noted by Arteta. The man is exacting high standards and I think it’s exciting for us to see how far he can take the club.
Linked to that he was also asked about squad building and he said that he was very clear in exactly what he needs in the transfer window. He said he was clear in the specificity of the players he wants and whilst he didn’t comment on Partey, the confidence in which he said that gives me confidence too. I believe that, if given the proper backing, Arteta can see us moving up that table in the coming seasons. And when I say ‘backing’ i’m not just talking about money by the way. It’s also about the club listening to him. The story from Emery was he wanted Zaha and the club went out and got Pep and handed it to him. They may play in similar positions but as we’ve learned Zaha is a different type of footballer to Pepe. So Arteta needs to be able to tell the club the type of player and the club needs to trust him and get the style of player he needs. If they do that then it could mean good things for the club.
It also sounds like he’s very clear in how he wants his team to approach Wolves. Again, I know talking needs to be done on the pitch, but if you’re as clear and erudite as Arteta is when he speaks to the press, you can bet he’s going in to more detail when he speaks to his players. That confidence transmits through the team and I think that’s already an advantage he had over Unai from day one.
I certainly hope he has a clear game plan for tomorrow’s opponents. Wolves smashed us last year, look like a very solid team this year, plus they have threats in Traore and Raul that Arteta talked about. He wouldn’t obviously give away any game plan on a press conference but I do wonder how he’ll deal with Traore’s obvious physical and pacey threat. He mentioned that you don’t want to get him isolated and that tells me I think we’ll probably see a continuation of three at the back tomorrow, but can you imagine him up against Kolasinac? It would be a car crash for us, so Mikel has some thinking to do.
There will be rotation though because, as he hinted in the presser, there are one or two ‘issues’ as he described them. I don’t think that’s injuries, but probably just players in the red zone, so I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of rotation tomorrow. More on how he’ll rotate tomorrow I think.
He was also asked about Guendouzi and Ozil and for me it doesn’t look good. He was asked a direct question about whether or not either will be in the squad and he said it hasn’t been decided yet. He was also asked whether Guendouzi could have a role model in the shape of Granit Xhaka and all he said was that the club are dealing with each situation individually. I think both may have already played their last games for the club. Guendouzi will be an easier one to sell on in the summer, but Ozil has been a guy who the club have been trying to move on for well over a year. Those wages are a millstone around the clubs neck and there certainly won’t be any takers in the summer, not unless we are going to pay 75% of Ozil’s wages to send him out on loan for a year. It’s a farcical situation that comes down to that fraud Gazidis, who has contract blood on his hands, I’m afraid. But we are hampered by it as a result.
Just finally, before we go, Arteta was quite bullish about the Aubameyang situation which surprised me. He’s been quite non-committal up until this point, very much focusing on the ‘leave it to the club’ approach, but yesterday he moved it up a notch and said that he has a ‘feeling’ about Auba staying and that the positivity coming from the squad gives him confidence that he wants to stay too. Of course money talks and all that jazz, but the player clearly enjoys his life at Arsenal and I guess it depends what kind of deals are on the table from other clubs. Unless there’s a Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern or PSG, there’s no real guarantee that there’s titles that will be won. Playing in the Champions League is one thing, but he’s of an age that trophies means everything and unless he’s going to Juve in Italy, the links to Inter seem a bit frivolous to me.
Anyway, something for you to ponder on a Friday morn. Back tomorrow with a match preview.