The arrival of yesterday’s press conference was a timely reminder that the infernal international break is now behind us and we can fully focus on all things Arsenal and Premier League, which is a-ok with me.
Arteta talked about the need to refocus his players after the international break and whilst the team news is hopefully good with most players coming back, unfortunately I think it will mean Ramsdale continues to remain absent and therefore Leno will continue to deputise. In Tomiyasu though I hope that Arteta was deliberately not giving anything away, saying “he’s close”, because he’s been ‘close’ for about a month now it seems and when I start to hear things like that I will admit that I start to get quite concerned that this could turn into a Rosicky. Hopefully not. Hopefully he is back, fit and ready to play and we see him on Monday night. Cedric has been decent over this period but Tomiyasu is a better player and we all know it, so let’s hope that we have our first choice back four out in front of Leno come Monday night.
The bit about making sure we refocus the team is important though and Arteta said something that when you think about it, it’s kind of obvious, but it is only when it is said out loud you kind of go “oh yeah, see his point”. What I’m talking about here is Arteta stating that the players going away on international duty will have had different coaches, different systems and different styles that they have to adapt to. They get their heads immersed in the worlds of their national teams and then come back to Arsenal and could be asked to play a totally different way. So when he talks about refocusing I suppose that is a big part of it and if you’re going to look at positives on playing on Monday night, he’ll have a couple of extra days for the players to get in training and get back up and running with Arsenal. But along with that, the refocus is needed based on what we are trying to achieve. We have 10 games left and we need to look only as far as the next game, which is a very tough match away to Palace. They gave us quite a game (even if they should clearly have been down to 10 men in the first half, thanks Mike Dean and VAR) and so that refocusing that Arteta talked about needs to happen now and mean the players only have eyes on that match.
He was also asked about the five subs rule and he – along with many of us I think – said he was glad that it is coming in. It makes sense. There may have been some clubs stupidly rejecting it a year or two ago, but I think the realisation has set in that it will improve the game from a spectacle point of view as more players will have better levels of fitness and we can reduce the possibility of injuries occurring. It will also encourage managers to be more clever with their tactical approach. If a coach can see a system isn’t working, he can make tweaks in the first half, or even subs at half time to change it. Imagine being able to change three players at halftime for tactical reasons, then still having two in your pocket for fatigue or injury later in the game. Arteta referenced the tactical side and the load on players, but also it is going to give more players more opportunities to get minutes in. If we’re 3-0 with 20 minutes to play, maybe Arteta can feel more comfortable with experimenting with one of the young players? To me this makes perfect sense and I for one am glad that sense has been seen amongst the Premier League and the clubs and this change is coming in. It will make the game better.
Now, if you could all just blow up the PGMOL and start again with a proper set of officials, that would be great.
He was also asked about celebrating victories and I’m glad he just batted it away, because it was a stupid question to ask and I’m only highlighting it today to talk once again about how some of the journos in that press room really do get the opportunities they shouldn’t. Who cares about whether Arteta tells them to celebrate or not, or whether it is impromptu or not? It doesn’t matter, it’s been a stupid talking point in the last few weeks and it was a waste of a minute in which somebody could have asked more probing questions about tactical set up, etc. Why not delve more in to what he might do with the five subs rule? Why not ask about how different he might approach a game against Palace compared to Villa? There are a myriad of questions that somebody could have put to him, but instead we get that claptrap. So, so, irritating.
He was asked about Santi coming back as a coach and said he hadn’t discussed it with him, but it would be nice to get him back in some capacity. He was such a great player for us, he is such a great personality and I can’t think why it wouldn’t be a great idea having him around the club and London Colney. His smiley presence is infectious and in an environment in which the spirit seems to be really good right now, why wouldn’t you want to keep adding to that as you build this team?
That’s about it from me for today. I was thinking about talking about the question he was asked about Balogun and Saliba, but I’m not sure I want to go in to my thinking too deep on that, if I’m honest. He spoke a lot more about Balogun and his development rather than Saliba, which I think is a bit of a story in itself, but I’ll save that for another day because I think there will be quite a few Saliba conversations in the summer and I’m not going to spend too much time on that right now.
Right, off to work, so catch you all tomorrow. Have a good’un.