Morning folks and welcome to the middle of a non-Arsenal playing midweek. Isn’t it just fascinating to see what unfolds in the media when there isn’t some kind of mini crisis that is going on at The Arsenal, eh? After an impressive win against a team who are in the Champions League spots, there isn’t really too much to be complaining about and we find ourselves counting down to a game at lunchtime on Sunday in which we could find ourselves suddenly a ‘form’ team if we can beat Burnley.
What will also be intriguing to me is how Burnley perform because for the first time in a long time – certainly longer than I can remember – we will have had a midweek rest whereas our opponent has not been afforded that luxury. Burnley play Leicester at home tonight in the league and it is hardly a game that they can afford to rest players. They are fighting for their survival and so Sean Dyche will not rotate like he probably would if this was an FA Cup or League Cup game. In those circumstances most managers in the league make it pretty obvious that theire priority is the Premier League and the riches that come with it. But tonight IS the Premier League for Burnley and does that mean that Dyche has to ask big questions of players who are not used to playing three times in a week, having played on Sunday against the Scum as well?
We talk about fatigue and rotation of our players, but in this season of all seasons it has felt as though the concertinaed fixture list has resulted in more fatigue-based injuries than ever before, so it will be interesting to see in just what shape Burnley are in after they play tonight.
The hope from an Arsenal perspective is that the answer is “not in any great shape at all” and so for the first time I might actually see if I can catch the tail end of the game tonight, as well as see what the ol’ gravel-sounding worm-eater Dyche says about the team and where they are at after the game.
Look at me, over 350 words in to today’s blog and I’ve spent most of it talking about Burnley. I feel all dirty.
Let’s refocus on The Arsenal then, shall we?
Sadly because of the lack of football it means all of the journos turn to their staple click-bait of transfer rumours and just this morning alone I’ve read about Hector to Barca (again), Lacazette to Roma, Juve willing to offer Arsenal a couple of players for Bellerin, as well as the possibility of Edouard from Celtic joining us in the summer. Slim pickings in terms of Arsenal content and I’ll save you a click: none of it has anything other than spurious guesswork attached to it.
It’s funny though, because I remember before the days of social media and planes being tracked for player arrivals, the reliance on the papers to get your transfer fix. It was worse on holiday as a kid. I used to badger my dad to take me to the newsagent in Portugal in the morning just so I could read the English papers – always a day late – and pick up whichever paper had the most Arsenal news on the back pages. These days it’s a quick flick through a few Twitter accounts to see if they are making any noises and if not, then it’s on with whatever you were doing during the day.
I miss the anticipation and intrigue. These days I get access to this information quick as a flash and that has led to a big dose of my cynicism I believe. That and the fact that my 40th year on this earth is rapidly approaching me. But hey, I guess all this transfer nonsense is just the modern day pantomime that us humans crave; all contributes towards life’s rich tapestry I suppose.
It is funny though, because this summer has always been one that us Arsenal fans have been looking at as one in which we need to make some fundamental changes to the squad. I think as much as two year’s ago many of us could see the fact that 2021 would be the time in which many contracts were up and the club would have to make a number of decisions on players. So it has come to pass and we find ourselves having shifted so much, yet still with so much to do. The Lacazette rumours are understandable; he has one year left on his contract and is of an age in which we need to offload and look at a replacement coming in. We’ve invested heavily in Aubameyang rather than the Frenchman – clearly the right move – and now we need to make room for a different type of player to join in the central striking ranks. That’s why Eduoard rumours fit the bill, regardless of how accurate they are.
But there are still loads of questions that need answering in the summer. Guendouzi, Torreira, Nketiah, Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Elneny. We offload a shedload of players in January and yet we still find ourselves probably needing the churn of those players too. Which also means replacements and when you start to think of the number of players we need to replace, you realise just how much work is going to need to go on. Perhaps that is why the transfer news needs to start hotting up? Perhaps the gears of transfer war need to start to turn now? After all, we are in March and have just a few short months until the season is (finally) over and we can look towards a new season with fans and shiny new signings too, so perhaps it is inevitable that Edu is already starting his work. I certainly hope so. He and Arteta cannot afford to get next season wrong. We cannot have another season like this and Arteta won’t be able to blame the fact these aren’t his players any more, nor that he hasn’t had enough time. In June we will be a year and a half into his ‘Project’ and if you aren’t delivering results after that time, I suspect the Arsenal natives will begin to get restless, with me probably being one of them.
But I am optimistic. That is my prerogative as a football fan. Optimism and hope. That’s what the summer will bring.
Catch you all tomorrow.