How are you feeling this morning? I mean, generally, of course, I like to keep up to date with how you’re doing but more specifically how are you feeling about The Arsenal?
Are you feeling excited like it’s the start of a new season all over again? Or are you a bit like me in that you’re feeling the trepidation of what potentially lies ahead for us?
I tell you, my wife wonders why on earth I put myself through my addiction known as ‘The Arsenal’, because I’ve just spent two weeks in a most serene place, helping around the house, generally not getting uptight, being probably an all-around nicer person. But on Thursday night I will have an elevated heartbeat (I know because I have a FitBit and it regularly reminds me of the stress my body goes through during a match), I will curse, throw expletives at the TV and probably be a bit unpleasant to be around.
It is my outlet though. An opportunity in which I can channel any loose testosterone through so that it doesn’t get vented through other means. I play golf occasionally but I couldn’t be a regular partaker of the sport; my wallet wouldn’t survive with all of the broken clubs I’d go through.
So yeah, how you feeling, ahead of the recommencement of football?
Perhaps more importantly though – and subject to discussions on last night’s Same Old Arsenal pod we recorded last night – how are the players feeling after Dubai? Are they well rested? Are they chomping at the bit to get at Wolves? Are they ready for what will be a really, REALLY, tough game?
Will we see the kind of intensity we need against them? Will we go at them from the first minute and see if we can blow them away early? I hope so. We need to. I’ve been doing some reading and having a look at some of the stats when it comes to Wolves and their style of play. I wanted to see what we’re up against because as somebody who doesn’t really watch any other team other than The Arsenal, I’ve got no idea how they set up and how they will play against us.
I read a good thread from this chap here which does a better tactical analysis than anything I could, but it has got me feeling even more nervous, I have to tell you. The bit in there about Arteta being an elite coach still feels like it’s debatable if I’m honest, but games like tomorrow night could help to sway thinking. Right now, Arteta as an elite coach feels like it is steeped in theory, we finished eighth in the league at the end of his first half of the season, then finished eighth in the league last season and whilst we have won an FA Cup which has shown glimmers of his potential to step up from a tactical perspective, we’ve also seen instances where his approach and style just hasn’t worked. And seeing in that thread that we haven’t done too well against teams that play low block and back three football, makes you wonder about Mikel with regards to how he can adapt.
I am all in on him right now I hasten to add. Don’t let my natural pessimism fool you into thinking I’m a pitchfork wielding, teeth gnashing, anti-manager agenda toting mentalist. I’m really not. I’m just a simple fan whose views change and sway week-by-week based on what unfolds in front of my very eyes.
But that’s been the problem of late because what has unfolded in front of our very eyes has either been very little like the last couple of weeks, or problematic because of the injuries, suspensions and lack of first teamers available in key positions. Which is why I still can’t get too excited about the ‘what if’s of us managing to keep the key players fit between now and the end of the season. We talked last night about how the Dubai trip will have been good for the players and I think the general consensus was that it was; rest, recuperation, time in a hot country, bonding time as a collective and batteries recharged. But those good vibes and togetherness can quickly feel for nought if results don’t match. Defeat tomorrow and we are back to square one; an Arsenal team low on confidence, on a poor run of form (it’ll be no win in 2022, STILL, if we lose or draw), with questions asked for both Arteta and his young charges.
It is for that reason that I wish the fixtures had fallen slightly differently. Imagine if we were playing Burnley at home tomorrow, instead of before the break? I would be 99% confident that draw turns in to a win. But Wolves are an entirely different proposition; a hard to break down team that doesn’t concede goals, has a decent home record, plays in a back three and is good with the low block. They represent a massive hurdle to overcome but if Arsenal can somehow get a result tomorrow then you are looking at at Brentford at home, Watford away and Wolves at home as games that feel like they should be more winnable than tomorrow night’s game does in the cold light of day on this Wednesday morning.
So yeah, I’m feeling more nerves than excitement ahead of tomorrow night’s game, because I fear what defeat might do to unravel the good vibes that will have come out of the Dubai training camp. What also doesn’t help is that we then have to wait over a week until we play Brentford at home, which means defeat tomorrow has us all navel gazing again, introspective and frustrated that our last memories of an Arsenal performance are defeat.
I’ll ask again though….how you feeling?
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