Mikel Arteta talked to the assembled press yesterday and I have to say I thought he talked about a whole manner of things that were interesting to try to read between the lines. So much so that I actually think more was debated about ‘other stuff’ than the actual Brighton game itself. Which to be honest I am a-okay with, because aside from 10,000 of us being allowed in the ground tomorrow, the game itself is a bit ‘meh’ really. It would be a very Arsenal thing for us to win tomorrow and end up getting that dreaded Europa Conference League spot, but that’s a worry for tomorrow evening I reckon.

For now let’s focus on some of those ‘interesting’ things I mentioned. Firstly, and perhaps most striking for me personally, was the talk about removing those that ‘hurt’ us, as Mikel put it. He spoke about external factors but also specifically mentioned people inside the club and I don’t think you have to be much of a Sherlock Holmes to realise who he was talking about. We’d all speculated what some of the factions might be doing inside the club and the fact that we exited so many players in January and our form seems to have picked up since then perhaps goes some way to explaining some of the troubles this season.

Of course it cannot be put down as the sole reason for our shocking first half of the season and certainly Arteta has ton take the blame for some of that. I think he does and he admitted that where we are right now isn’t good enough. With that being the case, I think he also realises that whilst he can perhaps point to some mitigating factors when it comes to COVID, injuries, toxic players, he won’t have such an excuse at the start of next season. He will have been at the club 18 months, had three transfer windows and enough time to start to weed out some of the bad eggs. This summer will also be one in which he and Edu will have had time to plan more exits and an overhaul and the way things are being briefed to journos, you have to say that unless they do that weeding out swiftly and replace with improved signings, then the sword simply has to fall on the both of them.

Again though, I think Arteta – and surely Edu by extension – know this and so they will be acutely aware of the job that lies ahead of them. It doesn’t sound as though they’re shirking from it. I know it is just words when said in a press conference, but he admitted that there will need to be some difficult conversations but those conversations have to be had and when asked on specific players like Bellerin, he simply said “he has a contract with us” which is his de facto line at the moment and I think it’s the right line to take.

Think about it: he’s hardly going to go full Homer and publicly state “he’s cut” in a press conference, is he? It would devalue the player as they know Arsenal are desperate to sell, it would probably piss the player off that he’s essentially publicly being touted as in the bin for next season, plus it sends the wrong message to those in the squad who do remain.

So I think his line is perfect. There’s no way that every player at Arsenal with a contract will be at the club next summer, not if we want to buy more players, because we simply won’t have the room. David Luiz leaves on a free, Ceballos and Odegaard go back to Real Madrid. That leaves three spaces and I don’t believe Arteta will just buy three more players and that’s it. For one thing we also have the likes of Torreira and Guendouzi who still have contracts. Do we think Arsenal want them as players next season? Of course not. So whilst I too was worried initially by that comment, I think now I’m coming around to the idea that Arteta is simply playing his transfer cards close to his chest. That’s good for me.

We also need to – and that’s me more than anyone – remember that we basically have no cash. I don’t believe that KSE are going to drop £150million on Mikel’s lap this summer. They just don’t do that. They don’t do anything; we all already know this. So any overhaul needs to be funded by player sales and you can only sell players that are under contract. So for me that feels fairly obvious.

One such player under contract is Joe Willock and Arteta said he will be an Arsenal player next season. Well, he also said that he and the club would sit down with Joe and discuss their plans for him. Whether that means he’ll be amiable regarding that remains to be seen. Willock has had a taste of regular first team football, he’s thoroughly enjoyed his time at Newcastle and most intriguingly, he’s proved he can bag goals in the Premier League. That makes him a valuable asset for a potential sale, but many Gooners are now wondering if he could come back and establish himself. Why not? We don’t get goals from midfield, he’s shown he can, plus he’ll be coming back to Arsenal with a bit of swagger I reckon. He knows he can cut it at the top level and Arsenal do now too, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Joe is given another shot at Arsenal next season.

If that is the case we’ll have to drum up money from elsewhere, but as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there are enough players for us to cash in on. Bellerin, Kolasinac, some have said Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Nketiah, Torreira and Guendouzi. If you can’t make around £80million combined on those players then you really do have to worry about Edu and his capabilities. £80million won’t buy loads, but if you’r looking at an attacking and creative midfielder and a right back, keeping Willock, adding Saliba and potentially giving Martinelli Willian’s minutes, we already look like a better side. I haven’t even mentioned Lacazette, who I think should be moved on given the length of his contract, so if that were to happen you bank some more cash and then either move Martinelli central and get a Buendia, or you go for another centre forward.

Lots of variables there though, which is why Arsenal, Arteta and Edu need to move fast. And that moving needs to happen from Monday.

Catch you all tomorrow for a match preview.