Morning folks. Another Thursday rolls around. I swear these week’s are just blending in to one. How are we coming up to a quarter of the way through the year already? I know we all want this current time of lockdown to get in the sea, but it does feel like you’re wishing your life away when suddenly you realise that Easter is fast approaching you start to think about how your life appears to be flashing before your eyes.
I don’t know where all this melancholy has come from this morning! Perhaps it’s following the speculation yesterday that Barcelona have been sniffing around Arteta and that he will become a conversation topic with regards to the next Barca election. I know we won the FA Cup and that was amazing, but this season has felt like the learning platform for which Arteta needs to grow. So it would be rather galling to have him disappear off before he’s even started to define a legacy at the club. The club which took a punt on him as a new manager and who went through the growing pains of a new manager too.
To his credit though, Arteta has said that he’s happy at Arsenal and he is still the Arsenal manager. It was a carefully managed response in which he didn’t exactly categorically say he has no interest in Barcelona. I kind of get that and wouldn’t blame him. They are one of the biggest clubs in the world and if he had the chance to emulate Pep and go there to make a difference then who could blame a kid that graduated from La Masia?
I think if Arteta is successful at Arsenal there is a Fabregas-like air of inevitability about him being perennially linked to that job I’m afraid. I’d be surprised if he and Barcelona are looking properly just yet and I suspect that Arteta -who I believe is a man of great integrity – will be minded to push for a move even if they sack Koeman at the end of the season. He knows that Arsenal stood by him when the pressure was on to potentially sack him. They backed him during a sticky period and he’ll be mindful of that. But with a contract expiry at 2022 and with a little to do to leave Arsenal in a better place than when he joined, I suspect Arteta would politely decline the advances, for now at least. If he is still Arsenal manager in a couple of year’s time (by which we would have had to extend his contract because I believe it runs out in 2022, which would be the end of next season) then that’s because he’s improved the team and we’ve gone in the right direction. Then, it might well be conceivable that he looks at the potential of Barcelona. But for now I suspect we just have to kick that particular speculation can down the road for at least one more season.
Let’s just hope that the fact he spent more year’s as a player at Arsenal than Barcelona can at least foster a sense of greater loyalty than if he’d never had any affiliation with the club before he joined.
Of course the reason he was asked this question was because he had a press conference yesterday, which is a bit of a weird one because normally that happens on a Thursday or Friday if it is a home game. So the fact he decided to do it on Wednesday suggests to me that perhaps he wanted to spend more time on the training ground and perhaps after Burnley played Leicester last night he could watch the game and think about the way they play and what he needs to do to get three points at Turf Moor on Saturday.
I think I’ll save some of my Burnley thoughts from the presser and what Arteta said for tomorrow, but he did touch on the lack of minutes for Nketiah and also that they were watching Saliba closely. Real closely I hope, because I still feel he could be a very big (not even literally, although he is massive) player for us in future. For Saliba I suspect the path is probably a little clearer providing he keeps playing and playing well. For Nketiah I’m not so sure. Arteta said it was his (Arteta’ himself) own fault for not getting Eddie minutes on the pitch and that he had been training really well. But with all of our first team practically fit and with the games becoming more and more crucial, the youngsters game time is perhaps inevitably going to be limited.
I’d hoped Eddie would have ‘kicked on’ this season in the games he’s played and whilst at times he’s bagged a few goals for us, I personally haven’t seen anything that suggests he’s waiting to fire into life like Kane did at The Scum down the road. Perhaps that is because we haven’t had an injury crisis and he hasn’t had the chance to start six games in a row, for example, but I would have hoped to see something by now and I guess I’m at the stage where the club and Eddie will probably be parting ways in the summer.
It will be a shame, but the most important thing for us is to get a big fee for a young and very promising Premier League footballer who has scored goals in all competitions and has certainly shown he can make it in the Premier League. There are a few of our academy players with whom we should be looking to probably make some decisions on in the summer and my expectation is that we should be looking to cash in on a few in order to upgrade in some key first team positions in the squad. It is always preferable to see one of the academy grads step up and fill a slot, but we’ve given some of them the opportunities and now it is probably time to get them some chances at other clubs and we should be making some cash from them.
But sell and sell well Arsenal. None of this Serge Gnabry £4million-style transfers please. We get heavily taxed from other clubs when buying, so let’s do the same when they come sniffing at our English players. Especially the English clubs. Clubs like Villa and Wolves who might have a sniff at our players, or Newcastle, should all be told “yep, that’s great, but don’t come to us with the begging bowl”.
Anyway, that’s a conversation for the summer, because right now there are still a fair few matches to go and Arsenal and Arteta will have their sights set on building some kind of momentum and form. Back tomorrow with some more of those press conference thoughts.
Catch you then.