We’re all still a bit down at the moment because of the North London Derby defeat to a pretty average Tottenham team, but for some reason I haven’t been as down as others, which is weird because I’m usually described as ‘The Pessimistic One’ when it comes to The Arsenal. But I just couldn’t get too stressed about a defeat to Them in a season in which both teams are a car crash and in which there aren’t even any fans in grounds. It just didn’t hit me as hard as usual. Which I’m thankful for.
Perhaps that’s also because of the hope that under Arteta next season we can see a continuation of the team that we’ve all seen with our eyes. By now you’ve probably seen a few stats doing the rounds online about how Emery’s portion of this season is similar to Arteta’s at this stage in terms of wins, position in the table, etc, etc. I’m not sure I buy into that as much because, frankly, we all saw what was going on with our eyes. Insipid displays like the one at Leicester away all served to highlight in which direction the club was going under Emery. Arteta eventually took over and he was taking over a team on its knees. He wasn’t taking over a team with whom a great pre season had set them up for a decent start. He wasn’t starting with less baggage from the players. He was starting from effectively a standstill and where we’re at now is that we at least have an idea of how he’s going to set up his team and what he’s going to do to adapt his side depending on the situation.
We also need to take into account the fact that he seems to have been dealt some of the unluckiest situations a football manager could have for their first gig. Remember when he arrived and we didn’t have a left back, so he had to draft in an 18-year-old kid to play there? Remember all of the injury problems that we had in the team when he arrived? Then there was the Covid-19 situation, not to mention things like red cards and picking up an injury to three key players in the first couple of games after the restart.
I think Arteta has been massively unlucky and the reason I’m not as stressed as I might be is, I think, in part to the fact that I can see that if we can continue the trajectory into next season then surely there’s no way we can be as shocking as we’ve been this season?
Of course I could very easily stand corrected with this Arsenal side, but I have faith that Arteta can get more out of many of these players. And for those he can’t then we just have to move on.
The challenge we will undoubtedly have in the off season is that we won’t be looking at the transfer market to solve our woes. After all, Arteta admitted himself in April that we were planning for three eventualities which include having some money, a little money, or basically nothing which will allow us to do very little. I think we all know now that the ‘basically nothing’ scenario is upon us, which means we need to sell to buy. We’ve got assets, but they’re like the broken MASK toys I had when I was a kid; if they’re taken to the jumble sale you’re not going to get lots of cash to buy that brand new bike you want.
We are going to have to be very clever with what we do and I suspect that means minimal incomings and a few more outgoings. That makes sense though because we have quite a bloated squad when you see the returning players coming back in, like Elneny or Mavropanos. But Arteta needs to be able to take a look at everyone before he decides his plan of attack for next season. I think we can all agree that Elneny and Sokratis, for example, probably won’t be at the club at the beginning of next season. But how much would just those two fetch in this Covid-19 era?
Not a lot i’d wager. Maybe we’re talking a token million or two for either?
We have the likes of Lacazette, probably Aubameyang if we don’t even get a Europa League spot, then Guendouzi too. But again, in this Covid-19 world I’m struggling to think we’ll get ourselves more than around £50 – £60million for those players. Perhaps I could be wrong but it doesn’t exactly leave you with a load of cash if you’re starting off with nothing in the first place.
Which is why we’re going to have to hope and pray that Raul and Edu have more about them than what has transpired this season. The picture that has been painted of both are that they are ‘Kia’s men’ and that doesn’t bode well if you’re trying to get sensible deals done for good players on the cheap.
But despite this gloomy outlook I am still positive. That’s because I think Arteta has more to give to some of these existing players. I think that without European football there should be more time to focus on getting back up there in the league and certainly I could see us adding at least two or three positions higher to our current status even without too many additions. So That’s what I’m choosing to hold on to this morning as my ‘hope’. Things are rubbish now, they will probably even get worse within the next few days, but beyond that I am choosing to look at the possible positive outcomes as a result of Arteta being in charge.
Catch you all tomorrow with a match preview.