With our next game of this hectic schedule taking place tomorrow evening in the Europa League, we’re back into the swing of all the football in October pretty quickly, so I thought ahead of our next match, against the first opponent I’ve ever seen who seem to face an identity crisis in their team name, I’d see if I could actually find out a little bit about them to see if they’re actually any good at all.
I must confess I am your classic ‘one club man’ when it comes to football; I watch The Arsenal and little else, unless it is convenient to me, or it serves my interest. So I have absolutely no knowledge of Bodo/Glimt whatsoever, other than knowing that they are a Norwegian team in the first tier. With that in mind, I wonder if Mikel Arteta has asked Odegaard what does he think of them. As Arsenal captain he’s probably already hardwired to respond to that question with a “sh*t”, followed by what he thinks of sh*t…
But on a serious note, and we should take our opponent tomorrow night seriously, how good are they?
Well, they’re second in their own division behind Molde, who I think are pretty much by far and away the best team in that league. They’re 15 points behind Molde, just to give an indication of the gap, but they’ve picked up some pretty good results in Europe already this season. They beat FC Zurich at home 2-1, plus they got an impressive draw away in Eindhoven against PSV. I believe last season the beat Roma in the Europa Conference League and so whilst we should be going in to the game tomorrow absolutely as favourites, I think underestimating this team could prove costly.
I think one thing that people always forget in elite sport is the power of that winning motivation, mentality and confidence. You can see how we’ve been playing this season that we have a team who has a bit of swagger about us at the moment. The way we swatted aside the Scum was so pleasing; ignore the fact we played a third of the game against 10 men, because even up until that point it was pretty much all Arsenal and I would have rather have bet money on us getting the third than the Scum equalising last weekend, such was our dominance.
But Bodo/Glimt are used to winning. They win more times than not domestically, they beat Lillestrom 4-1 at the weekend, plus they’re in a a decent position in the Europa League having won their last home game and drawn their first away game. They will come to the Emirates tomorrow being mindful of Arsenal’s quality, but in their own minds they will still have that expectation of winning and will probably bring a little bit of that swagger with them.
We often see that in European football, i.e. a team rocking up willing to play football rather than be clobbermeisters, because back home they are one of the best teams in their division and they’re used to winning and winning well. So it is incumbent on our squad to show the gulf in class and do it in a way that continues the swagger we’ve seen in the league so far this season.
That won’t be easy though, because hopefully we’ll be seeing some widespread rotation and with that sometimes you get naturally clunky performances. We half saw that against Zurich in the first match day. The team Arteta put out was half first XI, half rotation, with the result being that we didn’t feel as free flowing as we have been at times this season. That’s because we had players who had come in and not really been able to start developing the rhythm of playing regular football. These players aren’t just machines that will give you instant results as soon as they are switched on to play. They are humans and for some it takes time to get in to the swing of playing football.
That’s why I am hoping that the next month really helps some of those players who haven’t had as much time, because in the next month if we pick up injuries, then we’re going to need those players who have been warming the bench. So for me I am willing to accept some perhaps clunky performances in the home and away fixture of this game, providing we get over the line in terms of the result, plus we get minutes in to legs that need them.
I do wonder if that is why Arteta has started to bring on some of those players in the dying embers of games. Getting 20 minutes for Sambi at the weekend was probably quite valuable and you’d expect him to come in tomorrow. At every opportunity and in practically every game, Arteta is using Tierney and Tomiyasu and I think that is to at least give them something to get them up to the pace of the matches. Both of those players I’d expect to start tomorrow evening.
But I do also wonder if Arteta will ensure that some of the stars of the team will also be given a few minutes towards the end of games as well. For example, maybe there is value in giving Gabriel Jesus and Martinelli ten minutes at the end of a game? It keeps them ticking over, gets a minimum amount of minutes in the legs so they can keep up their cadence of playing, plus hopefully it won’t be too much of an exertion and have them tired for Sunday’s match. Of course ideally you want to be a few goals up by the time you make some of those subs, but the most important thing is that we’re winning and if we are winning by a decent margin, it really does just turn in to an exercise of keeping players’ engines ticking over.
Of course that is probably less likely to be the case tomorrow (that we batter Bodo/Glimt) because they will play a strong team with players who are playing each week and know each others positions intimately, as opposed to our rotated players who perhaps don’t have as many minutes, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t hope for that tomorrow.
We’ll get some idea as to what Arteta wants to do come this evening when he’s finished his presser though, so I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more match thoughts and a possible starting line up tomorrow.
Catch you wonderful people then.