Morning folks and happy Friday to you and yours. Hope you’ve been basking the relentless pursuit of victory that Arsenal now seem to have decided on embarking on. Wins against Palace, Chelski, West Brom and Newcastle means that bizarrely (and potentially unfortunately), we see an opportunity for Arsenal to potentially be playing football in the Europa Conference League next season. Bleugh. I’d take a season without, thank you very much. If the Europa League has been pretty intolerable at times, especially in the group stages, the idea of playing teams not even good enough for that tin pot competition makes me cringe even more.
We’d probably end up being favourites for it too. A European trophy on the cards, but one that carries about as much weight as the Community Shield. No thank you kindly.
I’m not advocating Arsenal throw their final game though; of course not and I want us to beat Brighton as much as the next Gooner. Not least because there will be fans back in the stadium and 10,000 Arsenal fans going on Sunday will be desperate to taste the sweet flavours of victory and I am all there for them to do that. Then, if we can overcome Brighton, the possibility of ending up in that dreaded competition can be reviewed based on how the dice is rolled in the other games.
It will be interesting though because Leicester have to beat the Scum at home to stand any chance of Champions League Football, whilst Everton play away to Man City, who will no doubt want to put on a show as newly crowned Champions in front of their fans. So unbelievably, we could end up in seventh in this mental season in which we all just want it to end.
That is mental though. We’ve had a shocker by all accounts. The football was rubbish at the start of the season, the Europa League and FA Cup exits were insipid at best, plus we’ve been patchy and crap at times in the second half of the season. Yet we might have pulled off European football by the end of it all because of the failure of others. How crazy.
Yet when you look at the league table since Christmas – a new fun game I see people doing – we sit second behind only Man City in terms of points accumulated. I don’t get it. I’m really scratching my head with that one because we can hardly say the football has been scintillating. We’ve made stupid errors leading to goals conceded, it has felt as though we have not really created many chances at all, yet we are sitting second in that form table. We all think our defence is prone to many brain farts, yet when you look at the table you see that we are third in terms of goals conceded.
Only Chelski and Man City have conceded fewer goals than us this season and whilst we all think that the likes of Bellerin, Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Luiz, plus missing Tierney for chunks of the season, mean that we’ve looked ropey at the back, the numbers simply don’t bear that out. Like I say, I’m still scratching my head because clearly what the numbers tell us and what the eye test tells us are two completely separate things.
But I guess part of that may be because we, as Arsenal fans, are so laser-focused on all of the failings of our own team, we fail to properly look at what else is going on around us. Everyone else bar a few teams might be able to argue that they’ve had a poor season and the hope is that some of the freak results this season won’t be repeated next. If you’re one of those invisible ‘neutrals’ then you might look and say it has been great, but as a fan of one of the clubs that usually wins a lot more than it loses, I can safely say the weirdness has not been fun at all.
I also find myself trying to make justifications for Arteta too. The life of a football fan, eh? The Villareal game cut me deep. I wanted him gone. It felt like he didn’t know what he was doing and some of his more bizarre decisions were feeling magnified. Yet you look at that defensive record, at the form guide since the halfway point in the season and particularly since we changed to get a connector/creator in between midfield and attack, and suddenly it feels like maybe things aren’t so bad.
Which is why you can understand the links to another creator like Buendia from Norwich. He’s scored and assisted in the Championship and whilst the quality of that league is certainly not the same as the Premier League, I seem to recall last season when Norwich were in the Prem he was one of their stand out players and looked very tidy against better opposition too. Plus I think people need to be less snobby about players coming from Championship clubs. Just look at how good Eze has been coming from QPR to Palace. Buendia has just been called up to the Argentina squad too, so as a marker of quality that might give us an idea, if he gets game time.
Of course what we have to hope is that Arsenal find some money to fund such a move, which I am not sure how. Whilst there are noises of KSE actually dipping in to their pockets this summer, I will believe it when I see it because ten year’s worth of evidence suggests they’ll do no such thing. What’s more likely to happen is them leveraging some debt to release funds and further burdoning the club in the long run. That feels very KSE.
But Arsenal are going to need to make their decisions quickly I think, because imagine if a player like Buendia stars at the Copa America in June and his price tag suddenly gots up by an extra £10million. We’ve seen that with World Cups and the Euro’s with players, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the same in this case. Which is why I hope that if he is our number one choice, that we act swiftly. But we shall see.
Arteta will most likely do his final pre match presser of the season today, so let’s see what he says when asked, because he’s bound to be asked about some players. He won’t give away anything but you can sometimes read between the lines depending on what they say.
Catch you all tomorrow.