Morning folks (just). Provocative title from me today, perhaps, but let me explain my workings. I do want to get to some of the things Mikel Arteta said yesterday in his press conference ahead of the Liverpool game, but before that I thought I’d share something that I was pondering this morning as I was out for my morning 12k.
After the game on Thursday night I’ve been thinking about Fabio Vieira quite a lot. The man bought with little fuss from Porto for £30million, who came out of left field, who we didn’t see at the start of the season from injury but now has two goals and an assist in the two starts he’s made for us since joining. I was very impressed with him on Thursday night and I think he got man of the match for his performance against Bodo/Glimt. He is just so technically assured on the ball and looks like he will be a massive asset for us this season. Arteta raved about him after the game, calling him an intelligent player, a real threat, etc. Of course he admitted that he needed to do more but that was more on the defensive side and sure, the player has more room to grow. But at his age and from the little I have seen of him, I’ve been so very impressed. He has an eye for goal, can spot a pass and despite his slight frame, isn’t looking like he’s just stepped off the bus from a Geography field trip. Not footballistically, anyway.
Anyway, back to why I’m making the Reyes (rest in peace, Jose) comparison in the title, because as I was running this morning I was trying to think about why he reminded me of somebody and Reyes popped in to my head and it felt like it fitted so well. I’m not talking about where they play; Reyes was a left sided player who liked to run with the ball at his feet. He was a guy who would be good in interplay but was pretty much a wide left player. He was probably a lot more rapid than Vieira is, although we haven’t seen too much of Vieira’s running speed just yet. I’m not sure that Reyes was as good at linking the play and dropping deep as Vieira might be. My memory is a little hazy but I do remember the type of player Reyes was to some extent, certainly as a good finisher – which he shares with Vieira, plus whilst at Arsenal Reyes was a man who got a decent level of assists too. It was some of the ball striking for some of his finishes I remember and Vieira’s first goal for the club against Brentford from outside of the box had a touch of the Reyes about it I figure.
But I think what I’m trying to get at with my comparison, and why it has stuck in my head so much, is the circumstances surrounding the two players’ arrival. Jose Antonio Reyes arrived in the January of the Invincibles season and I remember thinking it was Arsene Wenger really making sure he wanted to cement our grasp on the league title attempt that season. We started in January just a point behind United that year and a few weeks later we’d be a couple of points clear as United slipped up in the January. We already had Henry and Bergkamp, we had Kanu who could chip in and score goals, we had Wiltord who could play as a forward or a winger, we had Pires scoring goals for fun, so when Reyes arrived I remember being surprised that we even needed him. I kind of thought that about Fabio Vieira in the summer if I’m honest. He’d played as a wide left forward or as a support striker and we already had Saka, Pepe who was deputy, Smith Rowe who could play there, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we signed him, but it felt like we’d paid a lot of money and we probably should have focused on a midfielder and a right back this summer.
But the reason I see the similarities now too is I now see what Arsene was doing by signing Reyes, to raise the level of our forward line and attacking options that season, which Arteta has hopefully done exactly the same thing with the arrival of Fabio Vieira. In this Portuguese kid we have a versatile guy who is already knocking on the doors of being a regular if he keeps playing liek that and as fans, that is exactly what we want to see.
Who knows how his career will pan out and who knows whether it will go the same way as Reyes, which was unfortunate with all of the fake Real Madrid call stuff, etc, but it has started well and I hope it is the start of a long and positive relationship that Fabio Vieira has with Arsenal Football Club.
From a press conference perspective, I could probably write another 1,000 words from what Arteta did or didn’t say, the team news being the now standard response from Arteta in giving nothing away. The journos are probably going to stop asking soon at this rate. He played his usual straight bat and didn’t give any opportunity for Liverpool to stick any inspirational messages up on their walls, which is what you’d expect, but it is clear that he had to spend a fair bit of time keeping a calm head and not sounding too over-confident ahead of what he knows will be a really tough game. And it will be a tough game. Liverpool will finish in the top four, I’m sure of that, they’ll also show just how good they are as a side tomorrow and they’re sure to get goals against us, but it will be about how we can also hurt them defensively. What I’m seeing from Arteta and his team right now that is pleasing is this feeling of “we aren’t there yet” and I just wonder if that will forever be his mantra. It is a good one to have; continuous improvement is what is the marker of great teams. You have to never be satisified, never be fully happy with where you are at, all striving for more. It feels like Arteta has that in his DNA and it feels like the Arsenal players are having that drilled in to them this season that has shown such a great laser focus on that need to keep being better.
Let’s hope it transmits itself on to the pitch tomorrow.
That’s it from me today. Off to do a day of chores like going to the dump, shopping, then cooking a lovely steak whilst crossing my fingers that Brighton can smash the scum and Man City can drop points against Southampton. Not holding out much hope for either but you never know, there could be a surprise or two in store.