Morning folks – a happy Wednesday bestowed upon thee from me. Hope you are fine and dandy at this midway point in the week? I went to an awards ceremony last night and so am feeling a little ropey if I’m brutally honest. However, I did get five minutes to chat football with a West Ham fan and she’s going to their game on Thursday night in the Europa League semi final. She said that even last weekend David Moyes rotated out a load of players against Chelski, so my hope – and her expectation too – is that the same can be said for when we play them on Sunday too.
Of course that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that we should be counting our chickens. We have seen on far too many occasions how Arsenal can utterly faceplant a potential positive situation with the chips stacked in their favour. It goes back decades. I remember in 2004 with our Invincibles team rocking up the season after we went unbeaten at Anfield. We had a team of superstars, we were one of the best teams on the planet and, Liverpool were missing a host of key players and Neil Mellor was just some kid nobody had heard of getting what I think was his first start. Nobody expected Liverpool to get a sniff with a weakened team and a striker who wasn’t far from having taken his GCSE’s, yet he let an absolute rocket go from his foot in injury time and a weakened Liverpool side beat us with a strong Arsenal side put out. It is probably one of the first memories I have of Arsenal having the ability to shoot itself in the foot when the advantage was seemingly handed to us.
Fast forward to now and we’ve seen just how Arsenal can trip up when handed the advantage. If you’d have told me we’d pick up six points from five games since the international break, I’d probably have told you that’d be Brighton at home and Southampton away. But after those three defeats on the bounce against teams with nothing to play for, picking up that Chelski and United win has both added injection and fresh belief, but also left me feeling thoroughly confused about what Arsenal team we are going to get at the weekend. West Ham will no doubt rotate, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get an Arsenal side ready to take advantage.
I hope we do, but as I said I’m not going to count my chickens by any stretch of the imagination.
Did you see the Martin Odegaard interview? I quite liked it. He talked about the honour of being captain at The Arsenal and I have to say I think it’s probably becoming clearer and clearer that he’s going to get it come next season. I’m very happy with that. I love KT and he’s you’re British captain sterotypical blood and guts, but I like my captains to be the best player on the pitch, as well as somebody who is fit enough, which you can’t really say about the Scotsman. The very fact people are asking whether we should be somebody just as good as KT to make up for the fact he usually misses a chunk of the season, shows you that his body just isn’t reliable enough and to me I think we should be looking at giving the armband to a guy who is going to play more. I’ve read too many programme notes in recent years from the captain who doesn’t get on the field. I want to read some from a guy who is a little more dependable (even though they haven’t done the captain’s notes in the programmes this season, which is a little annoying to me).
There were lots of interesting nuggets to digest from him, about his time in La Liga, being Norway captain, even a cheeky one about Haaland coming to The Arsenal (ha!), but it’s a good read overall. The good chaps over at Arseblog News have a transcript summary of it here if you want to have a read.
I love Odegaard as a player. He’s silky. His movement, the way he plays and how he can be both graceful in his passing and movement, as well as somebody who can be that intense presser of the ball if needed. You can see why Arteta loves him and picks him so much. When Odegaard is ‘at it’ it is usually when he’s drifting on to that right hand side and in close connection with Saka and it feels like it’s no surprise that when those two are on top form then Arsenal are on top form. My hope is that we can have those two fit and firing between now and the end of the season because if they can keep that close connection with each other it feels like we might stand a chance of getting that much coveted top four spot.
I think I’ll call that a day for today. Back tomorrow with some more musings as we count down to what will be another vitally important weekend for The Arsenal.
Have a good one peeps.