Press conference day was yesterday which I am assuming means the team will travel down to the south coast today. Maybe they’ll take in the Pier or even get an ice cream or two, although with the weather as it is at the moment, it’ll make for the quintessential British day out on the beach. In waterproofs.
Hopefully Brighton won’t rain on our positive parade going on at the moment though and Arteta was at pains to point out that he knows this will be a tough test for The Arsenal when we kick off in the evening game tomorrow. Brighton have played six, won four, drawn one and lost one to Everton at home, who are also in good form. They’ve gone away to Brentford and got a result (something both us and Liverpool have failed to do), they’ve beaten Burnley, Watford and Leicester and perhaps the latter is the game that should be very clear in Arteta’s mind because for where we are at right now and where Leicester finished last season, we see them as comparable to us in terms of the teams. So this will be a tough game and Arteta said as much in his presser.
He also said that Potter has changed things from last season in terms of their playing style and because I barely watch any Brighton I’m not really sure what he means by that. We know they are a ball possession side, a side that can drop in to a back five or back three depending on whether they are in and out of possession. They have also been a profligate side in recent seasons, which has led to them finding it difficult to get too far away from the relegation zone. But this season the absolute scummer that is Maupay has been scoring goals and has four this season, which has been a big influence on their upturn in form, but my hope is that with that little throw away sentence by Arteta on their playing style, he knows exactly what they will do and exactly how they will try to get one over on us again.
And that he has a plan to counter it. The fact he’s hinting at it gave me a little bit of hope and it’s amazing what wins and potential momentum does to not just players, but fans too, I might add. A month ago these kinds of comments might get dismissed, but now you look for those kinds of words in hope that a tactical masterclass is on the horizon, and you at least believe it is a little more possible.
Of course he’s going to do it without Xhaka and Arteta spoke about how much of a blow it was, but he wasn’t lamenting too much, because he knows that there are other players that need to step up now, and I think it might mean a little more experimentation, as many of you peeps have speculated on Twitter and other social media over the last week. It’s heartening to know that even we – who watch Arsenal all of the time – don’t really know whether Arteta is going to go with a 4-3-3 like Burnley, or the 4-2-3-1 like against the Scum and if we don’t know what Arteta is going to do, it’s unlikely Brighton will either. I’m trying to dig out any possible shred of an advantage to feel better in my mind that we can do the business this weekend, as you can see!
But Arsenal IS a positive place at the moment. Three wins in the league in a row, a manager who has been nominated for Manager of the Month (which will absolutely boil the piss of some of those online YouTubers who like to sell misery for money under the pretext of being an Arsenal fan), as well as what looks like the basis of a good spine and an approach that we can all start to see. Arteta was asked about the importance of that spine and specifically the back line and admitted that he’s been impressed with White and Gabriel and the way in which they are connecting. He also mentioned how calm and cool Ben White is, given how he’s suddenly been thrust in to the limelight with the Euro’s followed by a very big price tag. He does come across as a chap that isn’t phased by much and given he put in such an assured performance against the Scum having had a little bit of an off day against Burnley and then also away to Brentford, it’s a positive sign for me that he has been able to bounce back from that. At a big club like Arsenal you will always be under the spotlight, every game is critiqued heavily and you need to have a bit of a ‘water off of a ducks back’ mentality if you are going to succeed. The cannon can weigh heavy on a heart of the weaker man. White’s initial showing lends hope to us that he can continue good form and hopefully this weekend he’ll also be telling Arteta everything about Graham Potter and how he sets his side up and what to expect.
He was asked about the Gabriel partnership and all he really offered up was that they are getting better in their understanding. It’s early days, as we all know, but I am really liking what I see with these two. When we had Mertesacker and Koscielny at their peak it really felt like a central defensive pairing that complimented each other. One could sit, the other could win the ball back higher up the pitch. One was better positionally, one was a fantastic recovery runner if we were caught off guard. I really do get Mertesacker/Koscielny vibes from these two and I hope that there is a partnership that can really blossom there because in these two young players we could potentially have a partnership for at least the next eight or so years. That is fantastic news and let’s hope it can continue to remain solid at the back with Ramsdale also doing his part.
With that I think I’ll put a pin in my musings for another day. Tomorrow is a match preview and I’ll give you a few more thoughts on set up then.
Peace out and have a good one.