Morning folks and happy Saturday unto thee. I went to bed at 12am last night having taken receipt of a beer machine that allows you to put a can or bottle in a portable tap thing, then pour a draught pint, but unfortunately my body clock does not afford me a lie in these days, so I was up at 7am and couldn’t sleep. Which does suck I have to say. Especially as there’s no Arsenal to speak of. So I’m sat here typing away, feeling tired, slightly groggy, and I don’t even have the excited nervous feeling of a game to look forward to this weekend, even if it might be better for me in the long run.
What I mean by that is…well…we’ve been a bit crap lately, haven’t we? It’s all felt a little laboured. So if we were playing Leeds this weekend I might have the excitement, but it would probably also come with a dose of frustration come 7pm on Sunday night when the result has been confirmed.
I guess what doesn’t help is that when I sat down this morning and had a quick scroll through my Twitter feed I saw somebody retweet a three-minute video of the game we won at White Hart Lane in November 2004. It was a hum-dinger of a match that we won 5-4 and when I re-watch the goals we scored, it makes me pine for that level of attacking verve that we had back then. Some of the reverse passes, the calm finishes, the intensity in winning the ball back, it was majestic. Of course we had games where we were shocking, we lost our unbeaten run a month or so before and ultimately didn’t win the title, but the attacking side of our game was never in question. We were a great side and when you see some of the players we’ve got trotting out now, it does feel a little depressing.
But let me step out of this melancholy funk that seems to have enveloped my tired brain this morning, because we do have a lot to be optimistic about. The manager for one, because whilst last weekend was a shocker that he rightly held his hands up to, we all hope that he’s as quick a learner as he’s shown so far. He is adaptable and has shown that whilst he makes mistakes this soon in to his managerial career, he’s willing to change this up to correct them.
Last weekend’s approach by the team was a mistake and he will have plenty of time to drill in to them that it cannot happen again and there will be consequences. There has to be. PLayers who have underperformed need to see that, but also other players need to see it. There needs to be an understanding in the squad that if you are out of form or if you are not performing to your best, you may have to sit some of the games out. We’ve seen a Willian jogging back after he’s lost the ball, or not looking a potent force in the final third and whilst you can chalk that off as a bad day at the office when it happens for the first time. When it happens again a few times in a row you have to say that it is a trend and action must be taken.
That’s why those selected to start on Sunday against Leeds has more to it than the usual bristling by fans when the players they prefer don’t start. It isn’t about that this time. This team selection on Sunday week needs to show that poor performances have repercussions and so my hope for this coming week is that Arteta has already laid down those laws to his players already. Pepe did his interview with Canal+ last week and said that he plays a game, then does training on a Monday and is told that at the weekend he is going to be a sub. That sounds like Arteta makes his selection decisions early, at least most of the time, so I hope the seeds have already been sewn for some players to come out. I hope they have and I hope we don’t see some of the underperforming players that have been getting in every week start again when we head up to Yorkshire.
If we do, then that will be the real worry, because it will feel like meritocracy is out of the window and that just like Wenger, just like Emery, Arteta has his ‘favourites’ and there is nothing that some players can do to go ahead in the pecking order.
I remain hopeful that we’ll see changes though. I can’t see why not. Why would you pick the same team that were played off the park at home against a Villa side that were a whisker away from relegation last year? You just wouldn’t. So I’m optimistic that we’ll get a change. I don’t know what it is, but I think that change is coming, which is cause for optimism.
And that’s how I think we’ll end the blog today – with optimism – so you have a good one and I’ll catch you tomorrow with some more ramblings.