I saw a Tweet from a fellow Gooner last night that made me chuckle. It said that now was a perfect time for Arteta to announce that Willian is starting the next two curcial games, given that Harry and Meghan seemed to be dominating all online noise with their ‘revelations’ last night to Oprah. I’m surprised Arsenal didn’t have something like that in their back pocket, because their PR people are usually that slick, so it would have been the perfect time to announce a Xhaka or Luiz contract extension, or something similar!

Of course I am jesting, but at this time right now and after another disappointment at the weekend, I feel like a bit of Gallows Humour might as well be feasted upon, because right now it is isn’t exactly the most fun you could be having being an Arsenal fan. The whole season has felt like we’ve had as many signs of progress as we have of regression and lately, as we mercifully see the end of this wretched season in sight, I find myself for the first time starting to think about Arsene Wenger’s old ‘judge me in May’ adage, but applying it to Arteta and his first full season in charge too.

I’ve started to properly think about that and realise that unless he succeeds with victory in a competition in which the tiniest of margins could see you go out – the Europa League – there will be so many of us Arsenal fans who will ‘judge in May’ and when that judgement comes,it feels like right now it won’t exactly be the most positive of ones.

I am fully expecting us to finish between 8th and 12th, most likely 10th it feels like right now, because we seem to be permanently stuck in 10th and it doesn’t matter whether we win, lose or draw, that is where we remain. Looking at that it feels as though we’ve regressed and that is what we must be expecting to feel if we finish in 10th come May. But what is weird is the fact that last season after 27 games we’d actually got one additional point more and were sitting in ninth. It’s still hardly an upgrade. But the distance between the top four and below has grown, because last season it was Chelski on 44 points, this season they are on 50. That is the real worry rather than our comparative league position and points accumulation.

The worry is that we are drifting, or at least standing still, whilst other teams – even in this bat-shit mental season – have been clawing back points in the second half of the season. We’ve been better in the second half of the season but the mountain we were left to climb was from the first half of the season. So if Arteta can manage to continue to stabilise the ship more – even though it doesn’t feel like it with all of the individual errors we make every week – then how will we be able to properly judge him and his performance for his first full season. Things got so bad in the first half of the season that a really successful end with a load of wins is going to feel like some kind of success story, when in fact you have to look at the whole season and conclude that we haven’t really learned very much at all.

If we win the Europa League it’ll be Arteta’s second season in a row in which he’s delivered a trophy. That will be amazing and there is nothing like lifting a shiny silver trinket to boost a club. And for a club like ours which has so rarely been victorious in European competition, it would be a sign of massive success that we’ve once again brought something home. I’ve made it clear that I think it is an extreme outside bet given all of the teams in the competition, but we are still in it, we can still win it. And if Arteta and this Arsenal team do indeed win the trophy, it will feel like we are progressing. But when you look at the final league table in isolation, it will be hard to make a case that over the duration of a season, for your bread and butter that is your marker of how good a team REALLY is over a consistent basis, we will have been found wanting. AGAIN.

At this point it is worth pointing out – once again – that I still back Arteta. I want him to have a crack at next season and I see signs that he can coach some players in to being better. But he also can’t coach the ‘stupid’ out of some players and if he decides to keep them around, then I’m afraid he makes himself a target, fair game for fan ire because he fails to recognize when the players he puts his trust in simply aren’t good enough. Which is why I don’t think either way we can ‘judge him in May’. I don’t see how it is possible to properly judge him until we get in to next season and see whether he can coach in consistency whilst shunting out the stupidity that has cost us results this season. I think we’ll probably get a better indication of it by 1st September actually, because by then he will have laid all of his cards down and we’ll have seen whether he is going to continue to put his faith in those that make mistakes, or if he himself has learned from his and has been ruthless in exiting some of those players who have cost him this season.

I am hopeful that he will, but decision making like leaving Martinelli out all of the time versus the continued attempts to resurrect a dwindling career in Willian’s, make you question.

I hope he gets it right. I am desperate for him to get it right. But I don’t think we’ll know until September whether he has got the summer right, then November, to see if he has the (lack of) consistency question right too.

Catch you all tomorrow.