Morning folks. Happy Tuesday. Still a happy day after the NLD win and whilst by the end of today that particular victory will start to fade in to memory, right now I’m still basking enough to enjoy getting one over on the scum.
Then on Thursday, we face off against Olympiakos in the second leg and if we navigate safe passage past them then we get another set of games coming up, so it won’t be as if our midweeks are long and lengthy or anything. It is what everyone associated with the club wants. I often get a little too hung up on rotation and making sure players are rested, but as a fan of a big club you have to accept that you are going to play plenty of football matches and that means that the fixture schedule does get relentless at this time of the season.
It’s only relentless if you aren’t winning though. Back in November when we were on our usual November slump (worse than any previous slump also, by the way), those midweek games just felt like a big chore. Every time match day rolled around it would feel like we were going to have to slog through 95 minutes of tripe. But right now, as it stands, we have a team that is playing well, seems to have found an identity and belief within itself (even if it does enjoy regularly shooting itself in the foot), is winning football matches and it feels like we’ve got a bit of form about us. That is good as you get to the sharp end of the season and suddenly, like any other type of addict, I find myself desperate to get my next fix of The Arsenal as soon as possible.
We get that on Thursday and we’ll then have another hit on Sunday away to West Ham, but Sky also announced two games being moved to their televised schedule and so we’ll be seeing us on Sky for the Liverpool game over the Easter weekend, as well as Sheffield United for that dreadful 7pm kick off time on Sunday 11th April. Honestly, I pray that it doesn’t become a regular thing when fans return to the stadium. Sunday evening making your way back home after you’ve conceded a last minute goal to a Brighton, who have equalised with their only shot on target in the game, doesn’t exactly appeal to me as something I want to sit on an hour train journey home for.
The other bits of news I’ve been reading that I thought was moderately interesting was all of the loan deal situations we have going on right now. Arsenal’s loan manager Ben Knapper has never had so much in his in tray I’ll bet. The club did an update on the official site and it appears as though most of our loanees are doing quite well. Joe Willock has quietly impressed at Newcastle and I asked one of my wife’s family members about how he’s playing. I got a “pretty good considering the team and midfield he’s in – I wouldn’t wish that one anyone” which is tantamount to a rave review I can tell you that much!
Guendouzi has been left out of the team lately but he’s been quoted in France saying he doesn’t think his Arsenal career is over. I personally think that is lip service; in the summer he’ll have two year’s left on his deal and so it is time to either sign a new one or sell. I can’t see Arteta rolling out the red carpet for the fuzzy-haired Frenchman and so whilst it’s good that he isn’t completely burning his Arsenal bridges, I suspect he’ll be one of those players we’ll be looking to cash in on and make up some money for the lack of Champions League football next season.
There will also need to be a decision made on the centre half situation too, because we have Saliba who we all hope will come back in and the player himself has been one of the few ever-present players in that ailing Nice defence. He seems to have had a successful spell on loan so far and so my hope is that he is welcomed back with open arms by Arteta when he arrives in June. But the real conundrum for the manager will be Mavropanos, because he is apparently excelling in Germany and with already facing some decisions on the volume of centre halves we have if we don’t have European football to spread the minutes around next season, I wonder if Mavropanos will be another one of those players sacrificed for some cash in the coffers. It will be a shame because he arrived as a player with little hyper but quickly looked decent in the small amount of time he played before injury, but we can’t have assets just sitting around at other clubs when we’re clearly trying a rebuild. Let’s see what happens in the summer because I think there will be so many decisions that will need to be swiftly taken when all players return for pre-season. We don’t want to see players hanging around in mid-August if they don’t have any opportunity to play for The Arsenal. We need to see decisiveness and I hope the decision making in January was just the start of the admin people at the club making those decisions.
It’s the same with Ainsley Maitland-Niles. We probably need to find him a club too and those minutes at West Brom will surely help. Many of us like Ainsley, we’d love to have seen him given a chance in our midfield at some stage, but he became a victim of his own inability to nail a regular position down, as well as some questionable rumours of attitude, so I think the writing is probably on the wall for that one.
But that’s ok. Not everyone can make it at The Arsenal. The key for us is making the right decision for the club that maximises the value of the player, so we can reinvest in making the team more successful. That’s what is next on Arteta’s ‘to do’ list and I am just hopeful we do that in the summer.
Catch you all tomorrow.