Before I start talking about the press conference and some of the more interesting parts of it for me yesterday, I thought I’d just mention Arsenal’s campaign against knife crime that was released yesterday, with a video and also confirmation that Arsenal will wear an all white kit for the game against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup tomorrow. It is initiatives like this that really bring me closer towards the club and when we talk about the ‘class’ of The Arsenal, this is the sort of action that I/we as fans talk about. Arsenal do so much through the Arsenal in the Community initiative throughout the year, there is so much work done to support people from near and far and whilst at times we can all gripe about performances, transfers, players and things related to what happens on the pitch, what happens off it shows just how great we are as a club. I feel a real sense of pride. The statement that is being made through the all white shirts and the fact that it is an initiative that will keep going in order to drive down knife crime in London boroughs is so important. Kudos to the club and Adidas for raising awareness of it.
So, to the press conference, and Mikel was asked a little bit about the Nottingham Forest game, but not really very much, which I have to say I thought it was odd. He got ridiculous questions like “you beat Nottingham Forest in 1979 on the way to winning the cup, is that a good omen?” and it is nonsense questions like that which really infuriate me. I want to hear about the team news, any kind of tactical approach to the game, the mood in the camp, etc. I want to gleam some kind of insight in to whether or not we are ready, what he thinks about our opponents, etc. Instead we get treated to English media nonsense as usual.
There were a couple of small morsels to feed on, I guess, and Arteta was asked about the COVID situation. He said how it is difficult to plan as they have a number of issues and they won’t know until people are tested tomorrow. You do have to feel for him in this regard; he doesn’t know if he’s going to wake up tomorrow and find that half the team are missing because they got a positive test. He mentioned about having a ‘Plan B’ and a ‘Plan C and D’ and that must be what he is doing every game now. “Well if this guy can’t play left back, who is next? Then who plays after that? And after that?” probably all multiplied out by most of the positions on the pitch. It’s really tough and when you work in a job where you could be fired after a number of these results go against you, having that uncertainty must be a right pain in the hole.
He was asked about the Liverpool situation and although he played a straight bat, I think he too thinks some games have been played by the scousers. He simply said that “we wanted to play the game” and whilst you can infer that he is doing enough to not really give anyone his opinion, the fact he talked about “many many issues” for this Forest match, but that “we want to play” again reiterated, I suspect Mikel knows like the rest of us that Liverpool have fiddled the system. We’ll find out tomorrow when we see what team Liverpool put out and if they come clean on who is actually ill with COVID.
As for other topics of conversation, the small snippets on transfers were heartening to me. He admitted that we are short in some positions and said “obviously we are going to move, and we are going to look for options, because we are very short”. Clearly Arsenal are going to try to get people in and it’s a far cry from the days of Wenger saying “nope, nothing happening” evening though we’d have about 12 left backs all injured for the remainder of the season! I think the noises that are ramping up from the media – Ornstein talking about Vlahovic, Isak and Calvert-Lewin, for example – suggest that we are pushing to make moves in the next few weeks. Of course we’d all rather it got done sooner rather than later but if it takes the whole window and we get that top class player in so we can bed them in this season, then that works for me. There’s been less talk of a central midfield option but I’m taking heart in the fact that in saying what I’ve mentioned above, Arteta was responding directly to a question of Ainsley Maitland-Niles joining Roma on loan. Given how the conversation played out I get the feeling that we might see a central midfielder AND a striker this window. Especially given the Aubameyang situation and if as reported Palace come in for Nketiah, then we will 100% need another player coming in to compete with Lacazette for the role.
With the Eddie stuff, if Palace are coming in for the player then I think we have to take the money and move on and whilst Arteta once again played a straight bat, the fact that he didn’t really out rightly pour cold water on it by saying that he isn’t going anywhere this window, suggests to me that if they get the green light from someone like Fiorentina, or if they can get Sociedad to agree on Isak’s release, I wonder if the club might move for one of those players. We aren’t going to get any value at all if we go to a tribunal fee for Eddie Nketiah, so if Palace can drop £10million on our laps, for example, then I think we simply must take it.
As we must if Atletico really are going to give us any money whatsoever for Cedric Soares. I don’t believe this for one minute but I guess if they want a back up right back and they think they can get him on the cheap then it makes sense. If I was in Arsenal’s shoes I’d only sanction a loan move if they are obligated to buy in the summer. Even if the fee is relatively low, we have Chambers who can play there, Tavares too, so we have cover and getting Cedric off the wage bill would be ok with me. I don’t think he’s been as bad as people say, but he’s always just been a limited player and also represents another one of the infamous Kia regime at Arsenal that we could cut from the club. The fact Atletico are after him though – assuming its true – shoes just how much Kia must earn his wedge, because he can clear talk his way out of anything and is whispering those sweet nothings to Diego as we speak!
Right, that’s probably enough for one day. Back tomorrow with a match preview.
Really like Isak, reminds me of Thierry. Vlahovic seems like he doesn’t want to play for the Arsenal and such players are not welcome. Wonder if there is any legs in the Renato rumours. Would be great once he is bedded in.