Thought I’d jump back in to the writing saddle this morning, having stepped away having had 11 days away from The Arsenal. That Newcastle defeat hit me hard. I have a natural defence mechanism as an Arsenal fan; I tend to think the most pessimistic outcome is the most likely one, then when it happens I have prepared myself mentally for it. Then, when better results happen, it is a bonus and I feel more exhilarated about the outcome. It’s something i’ve had for many a year and if you read my nonsense more regularly you’ll probably have noticed that pattern more often than not. But going in to the Newcastle game I decided to try a different tact. I thought I would try to be so overwhelmingly positive, to see if the power of positive thinking has an kind of impact on the equilibrium of life. Like I could have some kind of impact on a football match happening hundreds of miles away with many humans of which I have no control over.
Of course we all know how it unfolded and that’s why it hit me, because not only was I brought back down with a bump, but it felt like an even taller fall from where I had started. Then you add to it the fact that the team were so poor against a side with nothing to play for, combined with the Scum getting over the line to get Top Four – which was basically secured after that Newcastle defeat – and it was quite a difficult few days. I stopped blogging, I removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, I didn’t read a single bit of sports content at all and I stopped listening to Arsenal podcasts on my runs.
It was quite refreshing, but difficult at first, I have to admit. My life is immersed in The Arsenal. I write about it because I love to write and this is one of my biggest passions. I speak on podcasts and used to do some radio because I just love talking about The Arsenal. And I listen to podcasts when I go running every day. So to cut everything out took a day or two to adjust, but I got there in the end and by the time the Everton game came around it was more about meeting up with some mates before and after the game rather than the match itself. I wanted my Arsenal community rather than the match. It was great to be back and see old faces, but in reality I was still smarting and that Everton game didn’t help that much at the time.
But I do love writing and I do love writing about The Arsenal, so this morning I decided to get back in the saddle, so to speak. So for me it’ll be normal service resuming from today and I’ll be back to the daily blogging about all things Arsenal that I hear, read, or think about. Enough time has elapsed that I can think about what lies ahead, rather than what has come to pass, so as the saying goes “we go again” and thoughts now must turn immediately to this summer and how we are going to improve what was clearly a threadbare squad.
And whilst nothing has happened so far from a new player acquisition, the two big Arsenal noises that everyone has been talking about whilst I’ve been away has been Elneny and Nketiah either signing, or on the verge of signing, new deals with the club. On both counts I’m not so sure. I feel like with the one that is done – Elneny – there are many fans suffering from recency bias. Yes, he did fine when he came in and had some good games for us, but this is an end of season purple patch and we should not forget the limitations of the player. He has signed a one year extension with a one year option and so in that sense I suppose it is squad depth at a time in which we are alarmingly threadbare, But if we fast forward to the start of the season and we have another midfielder added in to the team which means Elneny moves further down the list to be a true auxiliary player, then I guess I would be fine with it. The reality is that we do need bodies for the increased number of games we’ll be playing and so if Elneny picks up half a dozen starts in the Europa League and a couple of League Cup games, I can live with it. But we shouldn’t be seeing him – or relying on him – for any matches that have any significance in our season. His limitations will show and I think deep down every Arsenal fan knows that.
I also think the Nketiah deal feels like a strange one too and I think a lot of people are suffering from recency bias there too. Sure, he did great at the end of the season and sure, Arteta should have brought him in much sooner than he did given Lacazette’s woeful showing from about February onwards, but I still harbour reservations about how good he actually is and at £100k-per-week for five years, that feels like more mistakes of the past are being made. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong, I hope I am, but giving Eddie that kind of money will make him very difficult to shift if he fails next season. Teams will not want to pay a premium if they know they’ve got to pay the kid what he’s on at the Arsenal and that would lower any asking price for him drastically. I guess you could argue that a fee is better than no fee, but I’ve seen too many Mustafi, Kolasinac and Ozil situations to not be at least a little bit worried that we’re going to be committing a lot of cash to a player who could end up sticking around quite some time if he doesn’t succeed and is difficult to shift on. I just have to hope that Arteta and Edu know what they are doing.
I’ll leave it there for today I think. There’s plenty of time for speculation and the like, which I’ll probably delve in to tomorrow (Gnabry, anyone?), but for now I’ll take my leave and catch you all tomorrow.
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