You know when you have those dreams that feel so real, that you wake up in the morning, then you feel an emotion based on that dream that is really strong? It could be positive or negative. Well, I had an Arsenal one of those last night, about the League Cup game against Liverpool. Unfortunately we lost, rather naively I hasten to add, so when I woke up I felt an anger and sadness that we were out of the cup. I am a little sketchy on the details but we had been shafted in the game and that was where the frustration lay because it felt like we weren’t bettered by our opponents. Then as I came to this morning I found myself even more annoyed that Liverpool had cheated the system, then cheated us on the pitch, to make their way to the final.
Then I realised the game hadn’t been played yet and whilst I instantly felt better, I suddenly realised that this League Cup means something this year. Normally it’s an ‘oh well, never mind’ kind of competition when we get dumped out of it, but this year it feels like it could have a deeper meaning to it. Hence why, I think, I am dreaming about it and getting my usual bout of nerves in the stomach ahead of the game.
I wondered why I want this victory tomorrow so much. Is it because of the fact that it feels like Liverpool tried to cheat to gain an advantage by wrongly claiming false positives (allegedly, although we all know the reality)?
I don’t think it’s that.
Is it because it is an opportunity for me to get myself to Wembley again for a cup final and share in the joys of that having had a fair few years away from a cup final?
It might be that.
Or is it because it feels like this could be the first validation point for Arteta’s new regime and new, young, crop of players who as he himself has said “we haven’t done anything yet” earlier in the season?
There is definitely something in that.
I went running this morning and on my early morning run I was listening to the Arsenal Opinion podcast as I trotted along, and as I did so there was something Matt from the show said that resonated with me, particularly after my dream last night. He said that when Arteta came in we all thought we were going to get Arsene 2.0. We thought we would get a manager who would come in, bring the short passing, exciting football, swagger back to the club. After all Arteta had been a player under Arsene, he had been schooled by Pepe Guardiola, he was a student of the game and we hoped that The Arsenal could return.
But we didn’t get Arsene 2.0. We don’t play that quick transition, fast-pass, back to front with lightning speed football. We are more methodical in our play. Matt went on to say that what we are actually getting is more akin to George Graham 2.0 in Arteta, rather than Arsene, and it got me to thinking. Defensively Arteta has worked a lot in making us more solid. That is true, although some of the stats don’t suggest that because we’ve had some big defeats. But Arteta has built on a solid defensive foundation just like George did. He has the same disciplinarian approach to the way he wants to run the team., but he also needs to have something that kick starts all of this off because in 1987 George won the League Cup and that started a period of seven years of trophies and success.
So to link this back to the game tomorrow and Arteta’s quote from earlier in the season, I think we really ‘need’ this to show that we are building something that can be successful. We need a trophy to validate that this side can go on to great things and if we can parallel what happened in 1987 at the start of that period of success for the club, who knows just how far this team can go?
We might also get the benefit of a certain Ghanaian being back in time for the game too. Thomas Partey played last night for Ghana but they crashed out against Comoros to get knocked out of the competition. That means that he will be heading home to London at some stage and whilst Twitter was awash of jokes about getting a private jet out to him ASAP, I wonder if the club are thinking about the feasibility of him playing tomorrow evening. It is probably a little bit too much to ask. The flight time from Cameroon to London is around seven hours I think. He will probably be in the team hotel now and if they have a debrief and then all go their separate ways after media duties at some stage today, he could potentially fly back this evening. He will be down just like his teammates and even if he touches down late tonight, it is a lot to ask to say to him “get yourself to the Emirates lad, you’re playing” by the evening I think. It will have been less than 48 hours since his last game.
Perhaps a case can be made to have him go along, maybe at a stretch he might make the bench, but I suspect the club will recognise the need to look after his welfare and tell him to be ready for the Burnley game on Sunday. That, in itself, is a big boost to us as I didn’t expect him to be ready for that game, so the fact we could have him back as Xhaka serves the final of his two game suspension, is a big boost for us.
The Vlahovic stuff is still rumbling on but I think I might call time on talking about any fresh new rumours unless it all becomes a little more official. It’s getting a little boring now and with each new ‘scoop’ it just feels like journos trying to fill online column inches. Not for me, thanks very much. So with that in mind, that’s me done for the day. You have a good one and I’ll catch you all tomorrow for a match preview.