Happy Tuesday fellow Arsenal-supporting mad people. Hope you and yours are all doing great? Are you feeling bullish about the season ahead? I know I am!
And part of that is when I watch/read/listen to stuff from the likes of Edu like we’ve seen over the last 24 hours, where both Sky Sports, but then also The Athletic, publish interviews with our Technical Director about the plan for this season, selling players, the transfer approach this summer and previous summers, etc. In fact, between the two interviews Edu did across both media websites, there was absolutely bags of stuff for us to sink our teeth in to, wasn’t there?
The plan for Zinchenko
Like how they had planned for Zinchenko for the last six months, for example. Now, I suspect that there is a little bit of liberalisation of the truth in the realities of that transfer, because we were hot on Lisandro Martinez to play that position until it became clear that a) there was abidding war with Man United, b) Ajax wanted that and were willing to drive a massive price to get the player, then c) Ten Haag would be able to draw on the relationship between the player and the manager. So whilst I’m sure Zinchenko was a top target, a guy they admired, somebody they had a fair few conversations about, the reality is probably also true that had we got Martinez we probably wouldn’t have got Zinchenko. Of course there can also be multiple truths here and looking at it with my Arsenal-tinted spectacles, I can easily see how Zinchenko is a better deal for us than Martinez. For starters he’s already played in the Premier League, but he’s also had many more games at left back than Martinez has. He plays in midfield for Ukraine and our two pressing needs for cover this season have been central midfield and left back, so Zinchenko is a little more ’round peg, round hole’ than Martinez would have been.
The big season
But Let’s focus more on Edu’s interview and I think it showed that the club are very clear on what they want. I also think that Edu came across really well; he is a good communicator, he wasn’t afraid to speak openly about situations and it showed a degree of confidence in where we are at right now. He spoke about how he had always said that 2022/23 was The season in which the team would be good enough and ready enough to really kick on and compete. That’s so refreshing to hear. There was of course no talk of specific targets, but he’s making a clear statement that to get rid of some of the bad apples in the squad it was always going to take a couple of years and here we are at the point in which most of those players have gone, the wage bill has been trimmed, he and Arteta are clearly feeling bullish and that gives an Arsenal fan like me excitement for the season ahead. And when you look at some of the performances and the way in which we’ve set up in some of the pre season games, we have every reason to feel excited.
Admitting the mistakes of the past
I liked how he was clear on selling players and then offloading players by paying them off. We all know it has happened, we all read the news and see the details about certain players, but by hearing it from Edu’s mouth himself, that he has had to go to the board and spin the exit of an expensive player like Ozil because it is better for the dressing room, that the club should view it as an ‘investment’, was still good to hear straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. There’s an element of transparency that came from that interview on Sky and in the Athletic and that is so pleasing to read about and watch. I don’t know about you guys, maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I get the feeling that the club has woken up to the fact that Arsenal fans are not stupid and that they need to open the doors a little bit to let us have a peak in on the inner workings at the club. Of course you don’t have to open the floodgates wide open, but give us something as fans so we know that the direction we’re going in at least sounds like it’s the right one. Arsenal’s historical “we thank you for your interest in our affairs” approach of a decade or so just doesn’t cut it any more; that is an antiquated outlook on how to build trust and support from a fanbase. As fans we want at least partial answers to things and by giving us these types of interviews we’re getting at least some answers.
Arsenal is run by humans and those humans make mistakes. David Luiz was ok for a bit, but overall probably worked as much as it didn’t work. Willian was a car crash. Pepe was an overly-inflated move that was done because of relationships that were a little too cosy between officials and agents. There have been mistakes and the club may continue to make a few mistakes, but if they are ‘showing your workings’ as my mother the former maths teacher used to say, then at least people have an idea of what you are trying to do and you will most likely get a little more slack.
It probably also helps that we appear to be making more right decisions than wrong ones at the moment. When you look at some of the signings we made last summer, the deals so far on paper this summer, it seems like the club are picking the right players to improve the squad.
There was loads to unpick on the interviews and I won’t go through everything, but I think the overarching message I took from it was that Arsenal seems like a very unified place right now. The fact they feel comfortable enough to put out not just one, but two interviews with big media houses about what they are doing shows a degree of confidence, which in turn is transmitting itself to the fans like me. After listening and reading these two interviews yesterday, I feel even more buoyed and excited for this season. That is such a different place from last season, when we started the campaign with a team that was essentially gutted and rebooted when September 1st hit.
We are in a good place right now. I just hope the start of the season reflects that with wins on the pitch.
Catch you all tomorrow.