Morning folks. Forgive me if I’m still not the cheeriest man on the planet in today’s blog, but whilst we all love it when Arsenal win football matches, it is hard for me to be too effusive about a 3-1 victory over a (now) relegated team who still caused us more problems than you’d expect. And it’s hard for me to get too excited when the result takes us from the lofty heights of 10th to the loftier heights of ninth in the league.

After the game Mikel spoke about chasing down Tottenham – four points and two places ahead of us in the league – as a possible motivating factor and whilst I suspect he was just responding to a direct question asked of him by a journo, I can’t really muster up any real excitement at the prospect of the season now basically coming down to whether we can catch that disgusting lot up the Seven Sisters Road. It just doesn’t inspire me at all.

Neither did the line up yesterday. Mikel spoke about needing to fight for every win and of course you’d expect him to say that, but there wasn’t the fight on Thursday when they should have had it, so why bother now? Why bother persisting with some of the options he did too and this game yesterday for me should be representing the start of a very long pre season for 2021/22. If it is treated as such then whereas up until this point Mikel hasn’t had much time in between matches to work out his best players, approaches, etc, he certainly does for the start of next season. And there should be lots of question marks over lots of players right now, because many of those that have racked up lots of minutes, should be hauled out of the team in favour of faces who could realistically change our fortunes next season.

So when I saw yesterday’s line up I had even less desire to care about this game. Leno in goal normally is fine, but why not give Ryan a run of games? We might as well, because we need to buy at least one ‘keeper in the summer and Ryan might well be that guy to play deputy. So we need to know whether he’s good enough in an Arsenal shirt or not. But Leno started. Go Figure.

He pulled Bellerin out of the side and in came Chambers and that made sense because all of the noises are that Bellerin is gone in the summer. So that made sense, as did the pairing of Holding and Gabriel; the Englishman recently signed a new deal so isn’t going anywhere and Gabriel is the guy that needs to be stepping up next season. But playing Saka at left back and seeing the way he tore apart the West Brom team really just underlined another bad decision by Arteta to continue to play Xhaka there during the last month or so. Had he done so in the Villareal first leg we might have seen Xhaka in the centre of the park, more solidity about our team, less Ceballos in it and who knows, maybe the result and performance would have been different overall.

But no, he didn’t opt for that and now everyone is scratching their heads again at another Mikel decision, or lack therewith.

Then in midfield we had Ceballos and Elneny and if anything could put somebody off watching this game it is the prospect of having to watch those two in the middle of the park. Elneny was just Elneny but Ceballos on the pitch was baffling. His Arsenal career is over, he’ll be heading back to Madrid soon, we have other players who have a longer career at the club and he’s also been dreadful lately. Watching him jog his way back as Perreira ran through and slotted away West Brom’s goal was an embarrassment and quite why we couldn’t have just given Ceballos’ minutes to someone like Azeez is beyond me.

The same should be said for Willian, who once again was pretty dreadful for most parts of the game by all accounts, with his very good free kick adding a bit of shine and masking what has been one of the worst signings in living memory for Arsenal. I saw someone say on my Twitter feed that it is somewhat ironic that Willian makes his first impact in an Arsenal shirt in a game which is effectively meaningless for us and after all other hope of success has gone this season. I have a dwlindling hope that Arteta used this game as a shop window for Willian because I don’t know an Arsenal fan alive who wants to see him return next season in an Arsenal shirt.

But I don’t want to finish today’s blog purely on a negative, because at least we saw Smith-Rowe get his first Premier League goal and that is hopefully the first of many. Good cut back by Saka and he could have had a second assist to Smith Rowe had the youngster tapped in at the back post in the second half. Plus we saw Nico Pepe belt an absolute peach in to the top corner to make it 2-0 before halftime. Those are both positive points to make and hopefully both of those players figure more heavily in the managers plans next season.

There are unfortunately three more games we have to endure before we are finally free for the summer, but whilst many of us are looking at those games and hoping to see a bunch of youngsters heading out on to the pitch, I suspect we’ll get more of what we got yesterday in terms of the more senior personnel.

Back tomorrow with some kind of thoughts about something vaguely Arsenal related.

Have a good one folks.