Happy hump day folks. Hope you’re all feeling good? I bet London Colney is feeling good at the moment, which is just as well, because we face a very tough task in Leicester City on Saturday. As I was on my morning run this morning, I thought about the game at the weekend and how close we came to the season feeling like it was derailing in front of our very own eyes.
Well, I say ‘derailing’, but our first priority this season was getting top four and although our metaphorical ‘goal posts’ have shifted because of the way in which we tackled the first half of the season. So even if we fall away now but manage to get top four, it would still mean we were ‘on track’ for what the club set out to do in July. Of course it wouldn’t feel like that and of course we’d all be gutted, but let’s not forget how young this team is; for many the journey is just beginning and that’s something to be pleased about.
I wrote yesterday that the club is being viewed in the media as some kind of ‘bad guys’ if you listen to what some sections of the punditry world tell us, but if you take away what some muppets in the press say, you can’t argue that Arsenal act with class. They don’t have to, but they really take time to try to connect with fans – or at least have done since the Lockdown for sure. When people talk about the ‘class’ of Arsenal, I think many who don’t follow the club as closely as we do, really know what it means. An example of it is how the club have tried to reflect the history, culture and voice of the fans in the external fascia to the ground. I was there for the Brentford game and I have to tell you, it looked class. That came about by the club listening to the fans and applying the principles of what the fans told them to the artwork that was created.
But another example of the class of arsenal is with the announcement of the new Elneny contract. He’s just suffered a long term injury, his contract is up in the summer, so it could have easily have been an opportunity for the club to say ‘thanks for the memories, Mo, and goodbye’. But they haven’t. They’ve moved to give a guy who has been nothing but a good servant and loveable guy a new one year extension. That isn’t a football move, because as I’ve said before, we’ve moved on from Elneny and even in Jorginho we have a player who is an upgrade in the same position as Elneny. It is very likely that Elneny may never play for Arsenal again. But by giving him his new deal they’ve moved to thank a player for his service and enable him to continue his rehab – which by the sounds of it will go in to next season – without having to worry about his next club. The noises are that it is on reduced terms too, so it’s not breaking the bank. It’s a good move on all parts. A classy move of goodwill by the club, Mo has a little more job security, plus there is an additional player in the team for next season that can come in if we need him, which of course we hope we won’t.
If we get a big midfield move that we’re all after in the summer, like a Rice or Caicedo, then Elneny will be fourth choice for that number six position. He’s not getting game time for that. I’ve never been his biggest fan but I appreciate that he’s never really moaned, is clearly well liked at the club, so has a positive impact in some sense.
The contracts that we all DO want to see, however, are that of Saliba and Saka. At the start of the season I feared we’d lose Saliba in the summer and I still kind of feel like that could happen, but with the way we are playing, the fact they both play every week, plus that Arsenal looks like a team that is on an upward trajectory, makes me feel like this is a good place to be and a place that players want to be.
Just look at all of the Declan Rice noises. In the summer it was basically universally accepted that he would go to a United or a Chelsea. Supposedly Chelsea have courted him for over a year now. He has history at the club having been an apprentice there and to me with the way Boehly has been spending, I could easily see a mega move made. But with the mega-long contract deal loophole being closed in the summer, I don’t think Chelsea will be ‘amortising’ their way to a £100million+ bid for the West Ham player. They also have Fernandez in there too. Added to that is the fact that if you’re Rice and you have the choice of an Arsenal team where they are now, or a Chelsea team where they are, which one are you choosing? If I try to take my Arsenal hat off for a second, he’s already said over the World Cup that he wants to play Champions League, but he won’t get that at Chelsea next season. At Arsenal he can see his natural progression in to the first team as Partey reaches 31 and continues to struggle with injury. Apparently he’s been impressed with Arsenal and the way they play, as well as with Arteta. So whereas nine months ago I’d have laughed off some Rice-related rumours, I find it increasingly believable that he could be a viable option.
Of course there are many moving parts in a transfer and just because it seems realistic, doesn’t mean it’ll actually happen, because you don’t know what other teams will do if they try to blow Arsenal out of the water with mega bids. But all I’m saying is that it feels moredoable now and that is a positive sign of where Arsenal are going.
Right, that’s it from me today, so I’ll take my leave and catch you all tomorrow with yet more of my usual ramblings.
Have a good one.