I don’t really know in which direction to go with for today’s Friday musings. I feel like it’s a little to early to go full match preview and start talking about the game tomorrow and, as I’ve already talked about how I’m feeling and how nervous I am, as well as how many weird nervous dreams I’ve been having as a result of this cup final, there’s not too much to say.
We’ll get more idea of team news later on today but it sounds like Bellerin is fit, which is good news because let’s face it, ever since the resumption of football in June we seem to have been hit with one injury after another. We’re already going to be missing three centre halves come Saturday (Chambers, Mari and Mustafi) and losing a right back hardly adds to the hope. They say that’s what kills you, but having no available players also does you in pretty bad too methinks.
But in a very Arsenal-like fashion we could potentially have a dilemma bubbling under the surface with our goalkeepers. Why is it that we always seem to have problems when we have two good players playing in the same position, but holes everywhere else in the team? I feel like this is an exclusively Arsenal trait somehow. Emi has been quoted as saying that his agent has been on the phone asking him what he wants to do about next season. Of course he has. His agent is sniffing a nice signing on fee or transfer percentage. You know that episode in the Simpsons, where Troy McClure gets a call from his agent MacArthur Parker, the one he hasn’t spoken to in eight years? Yeah, that’s probably Emi Martinez right now. Of course he played a straight bat with the question from the journo but as you’d expect him to say he wants to see what happens afterwards, but with two years on his deal, it’s probably time a decision was made on his future. Arteta could tell him after the cup final that he has the number one jersey until he loses it and if that’s the case I’d expect Emi to want to stick around to establish himself finally as the number one.
And to be fair on the current string of performances I think he’s earned it. His distribution is slightly better than Leno’s, he’s got strong arms – as evidenced through his saves in the cup semi against Mahrez, as well as the very good save against Welbeck last weekend, not to mention his last-gasp palm around the post against Trent Alexander-Arnold in the Liverpool game. He’s also a big lad too. Six foot five inches gives him quite a dominating and commanding presence in the area and if you’re a striker going for a header and Emi is looking to claim it, you’d be forgiven for having an eye on a big bloke like that heading your way.
I do think that Arteta should dangle the carrot and tell Bernd to be ready, because if Emi slips up and loses form, then the German should be waiting for his opportunity. It will keep both on their toes. However, whilst Arteta will probably want to do that, it is impossible to ignore the fact that in both we have very saleable assets and with the very real possibility of no European football next season, not only will we not have the money to invest, but we will also not have the volume of games with which to justify a very good reserve ‘keeper.
In my mind it makes offloading one of them a real possibility for the club this summer. I’m not saying I want either to leave – obviously that’s not the case – but with the club needing to get as much money in as possible so Arteta can rearrange the dumpster fire that has been the assembling of this squad by previous regimes, I think it is more a case of ‘needs must’ than anything else.
As to who the best person to offload is, well that beats me, because we still haven’t seen enough of Emi to know he can do it for the whole season. Or have we? He’s made eight starts in the Premier League, 21 in total if you count Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup, as well as one sub appearance in the Brighton game. That’s 21 this season and I think by and large he’s been good. He’s a year younger than Leno and has a two year deal. Leno has had his moments – Chelski at home when he fudged one long ball and then messed up for the winner by Abraham, but let’s not forget that the German has – along with Auba – essentially been our player of the season. He’s saved us countless times and the more I think about who is the better ‘keeper, the more difficult it becomes to assess.
But as a club Arsenal need to get better at making ruthless decisions. For too long we’ve held on to players, resulting either in them becoming worthless in terms of resale value, or they’ve run down their contracts and we’ve had situations like Ramsey’s last season. Raul talked about not letting that happen and at first we hoped that wouldn’t on his watch, but what we’ve witnessed since he made that comment has done little to suggest he’s going to do anything different. It’s time we got some of that ruthlessness into the club and if that means making a decision on a ‘keeper this summer, then so be it.
We just need to make sure we make the right one.
Back tomorrow for a match preview in which I absolutely brick myself for 1,000 words.