I watched the 30 minute video on Mikel Arteta this morning. He talked a lot about ‘unity’ and his time so far as he approaches 100 games tomorrow and I thought it was a nice piece from Amy Lawrence who interviewed him. I’m losing track about the number of times I’ve said how strong his PR game is, but the way he articulates himself is so good and every time I watch him I think about how he then interacts with his players. UNder Emery there were questions about how he got his message across and how the communication was between coach and playing staff, but regardless of how good or poor you think Mikel Arteta is as a manager, you can’t deny that the players should be very clear on what he wants from his team, which means there can be no excuses.
I don’t think he’s the kind of guy that has too many excuses though. He is still learning, but I get the impression that he is acknowledging that himself and that he knows that it isn’t always rosy and it isn’t always terrible. He came in and made some changes and it seemed to work. Then he won the FA Cup and probably thought quite a lot about his own methods and how things were going his way. But perhaps that horrible period last season helped to be the making of him and realise that his ideas alone won’t solve everything. He isn’t a lone warrior taking on an army on his own; I think over his period as manager of Arsenal he has learned from it and come out the other side – hopefully for the better in terms of our team and results – and I am hoping that we are at the start of something right now.
He said that the international break in August/September was one of the best moments of his career. Perhaps it afforded him plenty of introspection, but also that he realised this epiphany that he has people around him to take some of the load. We’ve seen all of the many coaches and back room staff Arteta has; perhaps he is learning to lean more on them than he has done previously.
That is positive and it gives me hope for the future. And the immediate future is tomorrow, when we play Watford and Mikel was in front of the cameras and journos to talk the game in his pre match press conference. He was asked about Watford and didn’t really give up much as you’d expect, but even if he wanted to, I suspect it would be difficult. That’s because Watford are a strange side. Smashed Everton, smashed by Liverpool, passive at home to Southampton last weekend. Ranieri has them playing a counter-attacking style and they go long a lot, but Mikel didn’t really talk about their style. Perhaps that’s just because he doesn’t want to give too much away, but personally I always prefer it when there’s a little bit of a nod to their playing style because then you know he and his team have analysed until they are blue in the face and know what is coming tomorrow. Of course they probably do, but it’s just nice to put my mind at ease, you know?
He was also asked about Tavares and Tierney’s competition and said that he wants to see more of that in other positions. Wouldn’t we all, eh? If you’ve got serious competition like that in three or four positions, even, you are probably one of the top two or three clubs in the country. That’s because you’ve found talent and you can cope with modern day football and its schedule. We have a reduced schedule this year and hopefully that enables more players to stay fit, but the reality is that if we want to see us fighting for the top honours, we will need the type of competition where you don’t know who is starting in right back, central midfield, attacking midfield and centre forward.
I think we can get there. We probably need a window or two to bolster in positions like midfield and right back, but if you think about our options in central defence next season – assuming we haven’t torched our relationship with William Saliba – then you have three quality centre halves for two positions. In midfield we could have Sambi, Partey, Xhaka and maybe one more for two positions, you’ve got Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe and Pepe for three positions, plus Lacazette and Auba for one position, or playing both enables us to have more competition in the three that sit behind the striker. So it does feel like we’re getting there, albeit we all recognise we have far to go. So it feels like we’re getting there. The results need to mirror the feeling I have, but as of late you can’t argue that they haven’t and hopefully we’ll get more of it tomorrow when Watford rock up.
Arteta was also asked about the upcoming internationals. I don’t know about you but I really couldn’t give a rats arse about yet another set of pointless matches, so when I saw that ESR and White weren’t in the squad I only had feelings of relief that they hopefully won’t pick up any injuries or get fatigued. The problem is that the under-21s are playing during the international break so ESR will almost certainly play in that and whilst White will be at home resting up, Smith Rowe will be off playing some pointless match somewhere. I haven’t bothered to check.
Tierney will no doubt play too and that is a little bit of a worry given that he’s only back from injury, but there’s not a lot we can do about it, other than hope he doesn’t get over worked whilst he’s away.
That’s probably about it for me for today. You have a good one and I’ll catch you with a match preview tomorrow.
Laters party people.