So we had ourselves a press conference from the boss yesterday and that included a raft of questions from the assembled press on the Zoom call. He was asked about team news and the good news appears that we haven’t picked up any knocks from Thursday night, so that’s good. With games coming thick and fast every week we don’t need any knocks to give us set backs and it is becoming clearer that Arteta likes to shuffle things around from game-to-game so it is good to know that we have those options and that he has a bit of a headache developing with some players.
Like Willock, who he was again asked about and agreed that his performances in the Europa are a pleasing development. Willock was one of those that at the start of the season last year looked like he could really be a player that kicked on, but by the end he was losing the ball, looking every bit the raw player and was taken out of the team and reduced to a last five minute sub when the five sub rule was in place. My hope is that he is building his confidence soon because whilst he is a little more limit in terms of his passing range, he is still a player capable of findings good spaces on the pitch and there’s no doubt he can cover ground with his running power.
Arteta was asked about the five subs rule and how we said he’d like it to come back from last season’s Project Restart. I guess if we did have that then Willock may have got more Premier League minutes. He strikes me as the type of player who is probably sub number four or five on Arteta’s mind at the moment; the kind of guy who can come on and provide fresh legs, rather than a tactical change, which is why it kind of makes sense that he hasn’t made the match day squad in the Premier League, or if he has he hasn’t often got on.
It means that he’s had to bide his time and that’s meant the Europa, but the fact that he’s been able to impress in the last couple of games suggests to me that he must be knocking on the door of being considered maybe that second or third sub in a Premier League game. That must be where Arteta’s head is at right now and by the sounds of the press conference I think that is where he is at.
The other topic of conversation once again went to was around our chance creation and Arteta admitted that we needed to create chances. But as he did point out we have also had some tough games of late. This season alone we have played Leicester City, United, City, Liverpool twice. These are tight matches that you wouldn’t expect 20 to 30 shots on goal. But it is fair to point out that we should be creating more chances overall and we can all see that with our eyes.
Arteta did say they have been working on it in the last couple of week’s though and when you look at the fact that against Molde we created 17 shots on goal, that shows that there was a little more about us in the last game. For the United game it was seven, for Dundalk it was 25 and for Leicester it was 12. So I do think the numbers show we are taking a few more, but we still need to be creating ones of better quality I feel. But it is games like this weekend against Aston Villa, where they will sit deep and look to use the pace of Watkins, Grealish and Barkley to hit us on the counter, that we need to make more of the possession that we will inevitably have. We need to take more risks, more shots and ‘buy a ticket’ a bit more I think.
Hopefully we will see that and hopefully performances like Willock’s, or the fact Pepe once again scored, will give Arteta the confidence that he has a few more options. When the like of Willian and Lacazette inevitably don’t work, let’s give these players that offer something different a go. What else have we got to lose if we’re being frustrated or behind?
That’s pretty much it in terms of the press conference and interesting things that were talked about. There was a stupid question about Gary Neville saying Arteta looks good on the touchline, but that needs to be given about as much attention to it as a Donald Trump “election fraud” claim.
So I’ll bid you adieu for another Saturday. I’m going to go shopping, do some meal planning, then mayeb a beverage or two whilst watching City versus Liverpool.
Catch you all tomorrow for a match preview.