Plenty to get through today, after Arteta had his press conference ahead of Sunday’s dead rubber, the Premier League fixtures for next season were confirmed, as well as the disappointing news that Mustafi will miss the cup final due to the injury he picked up in the Semi Final last week.
You really have to feel for him, because he also missed the final back in 2017 and when a player who has redeemed himself to the point in which we can all see his absence is a blow, you can see how far he’s come under Arteta.
It definitely is a blow for him and also for us, because as I said in the post match review of the Villa game, Holding just isn’t as progressive with his passing and he’s certainly not as mobile. Chelski have a very mobile and agile attack and had Mustafi been fit he would have 100% have played, so it will be interesting to see where Arteta’s head is at, with Holding probably coming in for the German and given a chance to replicate his 2017 heroics.
It’s also weird how there’s yet more symmetry with the 2017 cup final with Mustafi being missing and holding coming in to a back three. The only thing we’re missing is the win but I’m not as confident this time around. I’ll go into more detail next week as we count down to the final.
Arteta was asked about injuries and the season and he admitted that the restart has hit us pretty bad. It does feel like we’ve had it worse than other teams with Mari, Xhaka, Leno, Nelson, Martinelli and Mustafi all succumbing to injury at different times. Whether or not that’s a training thing I’m not too sure, but for years it feels like we’ve had more injuries than usual.
Arteta isn’t using it as an excuse though and he even fronted up on that, as well as the lack of creativity, also citing the fact that some of the stats when you look at this Arsenal team not lying. It doesn’t look good when you think about the dearth of talent in those creative positions, I feel a little more confident that Arteta knows what he needs.
He also said some interesting things about adapting formations and having different ways to play. He was talking about the differences in style between Liverpool and Man City and to hear him talk about us having the ability to change the way we play from game to game, I have to say, got me quite excited for the future. Arteta is a man I have such high levels of belief in; he’s such a great orator in front of the media and it really feels like we have ourselves a man who has the ability to drive us forward and make us successful again if he’s given the ability to translate his ideas onto the pitch with players who can deliver exactly what he wants. Hopefully Saliba is one at the back, but I’m also hoping he’s got a certain style of ‘connector’ in mind between the midfield and attack and as well as Emile Smith-Rowe (who I talked about yesterday), who I think could be a great player giving us options.
Of course the uncertainty over the money we’ll have to spend will be dependent on our final league position and the possibility of European football, but again until we know our fate by the end of this season, we can’t really assess just how big a job he has on his hands.
What we do have clarity on is the new season and somewhat surprisingly it starts on 12th September. I have to say I wasn’t expecting that. It gives very little time to prepare and deliver a pre season, as well as integrate new players into the team, but in a way it’s kind of good, because it will extinguish any lingering memories of this wretched season quite quickly. I’m kind of ok with that!
I’ll also be interested to see what Arteta will do with this new season and the freshness it brings. I suspect there will be some exits at the club and the incomings will certainly be interesting to see. There won’t be a lot of time to do business so the second our fate is confirmed next Saturday – good or bad – the ‘transfer team’ need to be moving swiftly. The deadline might be open until mid October, but we don’t want to be fannying around with signings around then, because it won’t help our start to the season.
Righto, that’s me done for the day, so I’m off to find some bacon and nurse this hangover I’ve got. Catch you on the flip side.