Mikel had his pre-Burnley press conference yesterday and as is the way these days, he said some things that I’ll be darned if I don’t end up getting excited when I hear him talk. I know football is about what is on the pitch, I know that the football has not been great for a while, but when I hear him in press conferences it gives me hope that just over the next ridge, maybe, just maybe, there is a sunrise and an exciting future ahead for Arsenal under him.
He was asked about the team news ahead of the game against the Clobbermeisters and thankfully it looks like we have a pretty clean bill of health. Of course come Sunday we could be looking like the infirmary of a World War II movie scene when their players have “roughed ’em up a bit” and the home crowd have boooooooooooooed themselves horse for assaults on players ankles, but what I did love about the Arteta response to such questioning was to play the straightest of bats. He was complimentary about Sean Dyche, he was complimentary about the fact that they have performed well given their means as a club and he was certainly in no mood to give them the ol’ ‘newspaper cutting pinned up in the dressing room’ ammunition that you know a guy like Sean Dyche would love.
I’ll probably take a little look at the Burnley website later and see what Dyche has said about Arteta and Arsenal too. No doubt he’ll play the same bat before the game, because it’s usually not until after the game that he’ll be moaning about players going down too easy, blah, blah, blah. If he’s doing that come 5pm on Saturday then that’s grand as far as I’m concerned, because it’ll mean that we have picked up another three points and right now, that’s all that matters.
Arteta was also asked about Wilshere and he said we’re going to help him out to see what we can do. He stopped way short of saying he can train to see if he can offer a contract and personally, as much as I love Jack just like I’m sure you do, I can’t see a way that it becomes reality. In those creative positions we have Odegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka can play there too and Jack didn’t manage to secure a longer term deal with Championship Bournemouth having been fit for the last year, so I don’t see why we would go as far as offering a contract to him. It would be a fairytale if he did resign but the reality is that he doesn’t play in a position that we need right now. If he could play as one of the defensive midfielders in our 4-2-3-1 then maybe, but I just don’t think he can do it. Is he robust enough for the rigours of the Ppremier League these days?
As much as it would be a feel-good story, I just can’t see it happening, but it is good that the club will let him train and he will be involved in that team surroundings. That’s something he admitted to missing during his Athletic interview and I’m pleased to hear Arteta offer Arsenal’s services to a guy who is Arsenal through and through.
As for the other news around the press conference, he was probed about the Leno/Ramsdale stuff and as you’d expect he was pretty cut and dry about it. Every position needs competition, the ‘keepers are no different, Bernd was unhappy when told he wasn’t playing but he understands that. I actually think the introduction for the Norwich game was probably with an eye on this weekend’s fixture. Burnley press high, they are physical, they will look to use the aerial prowess of the likes of Wood and if Ramsdale is good coming off his line and more commanding in his box, then it could go some way to negating one of Burnley’s threats. We all know what Leno is, as well as what he is not, and commanding his area isn’t really something that he does. So perhaps the Burnley game is a good time to play Ramsdale and the Norwich game was a good opportunity for him to get his league debut out of the way. Less nerves now and so he’ll be more happy with his place in the team.
As for the rumours about the North London Derby, Mikel dismissed that out of hand, which is right, because I just cannot see how he would be making that decision now. Imagine if Ramsdale has an absolute blinder tomorrow, pulls off a string of world class saves, commands his box and we win by a few goals. Mikel isn’t going to want to shuffle his deck too much for the NLD so why would he suddenly sit him down just to keep a player happy?
He wouldn’t. We know enough about him by now to know that. Perhaps Bernd does have a chance to feature for the NLD but until we see what unfolds in the North West, there’s simply no point speculating and Mikel pretty much alluded to that too.
I did like how he talked about competition though, as well as how he see’s a ray of light at the end of the tunnel right now. I think it was Pedro from LeGrove who said on Twitter that he thinks he’s seen a very different shift in narrative from the manager since the Brentford game. In that game he was more spicy in his responses, you could see that he wasn’t 100% happy and when asked the question about Auba not returning to form ever again he just said “I don’t know”. Fast forward to the positive vibes he’s giving off now and if he was asked that same question, what do you think his response would be? Certainly not the same, I’d wager.
It’s easy to shout out from the rooftops with happiness when your team has just won a football match though. I just hope he transmits the same positivity after we’ve dropped points. Could be this weekend, so let’s just see what happens tomorrow.
Final shout out for my ol’ mate Mike McDonald, who wrote a fascinating piece over at LeGrove on Juego De Posicion and Arteta trying to implement it. It’s a bit of a long one but well worth it because it talks about why Arteta has been doing what he’s been doing. It also gives a few rays of hope on the future at Arsenal, which on a Friday morning, is no bad thing.
Catch you guys tomorrow.