Morning folks, how are we all doing on this Friday morn?
Rubbish night sleep means that I thought I’d drag my sorry arse out of bed early to take advantage of the day, which also means getting my daily Arsenal content fix a little earlier than usual and after the fixture yesterday was in the early hours of the morning UK time, I also have a little more colour to build on some of the thoughts yesterday, as I was writing about an hour after the match had finished and so there wasn’t too much content out there. Heck, I even missed the third Barca goal and the fifth Arsenal one because there wasn’t much of a stream out there that would show the whole game. So I missed an absolute peach from Fabio Vieira and I’m sure that will have given him a bit of a confidence boost.
He’s a guy who it is fair to say the fanbase appears somewhat divided over. I sort of touched on it yesterday when I mentioned about how we’d spoken on the Same Old Arsenal podcast about how Fabio Vieira is – I think – a player who there is the raw materials and glimpses that we’ve seen of a talented footballer in there. We all, I’m sure, remember the stellar performance he put in away to Brentford when deputising for Odegaard. But in the second half of the season he did look lightweight and he put in a couple of performances that I think we all have to admit weren’t really good enough. His distribution seemed to be off, he seemed to go missing in some of the games and given his frame it felt easy to put two and two together and make five by saying that it was his lack of physicality that was the problem for the Premier League. But Premier League history is littered with examples of players who have had that small frame but have been able to make a success of being a Premier League star. We can go back to Santi Cazorla for an Arsenal example, but you also have Bernardo Silva at City, Rico Henry at Brentford, or Juninho from way back in the Middlesbrough days of the 90s. So it isn’t his physicality that needs to necessarily change, but his impact. If, for example, we’d have seen half a dozen games like the Brentford match away at the Brentford Community Stadium last season, then I suspect we’d probably not have so many people questioning his longer-term viability in the side. But because we haven’t seen enough of it, there are these voices amongst our fanbase who are expressing concerns.
Some of it is incumbent on the player and sure he needs to keep working hard to deliver what Mikel needs, but some of it has been misfortune on his part I think. If you cast your mind back to last summer when he arrived, in which he was injured for pre season and the start of the season, it meant his season didn’t even properly start until September. That meant he was already playing catch up and by the time you could probably have expected him to bed in to a new team and new teammates, a lot of the ‘automatisms’ of the first XI had already been built. You are then looking at a winning side you don’t want to change, coupled with a World Cup that started in November and I am not surprised that his season ended up a little ‘bitty’. Certainly the first bit, anyway. But it’s that second half of the season in which we could have done with a player stepping up towards the end when we started to stutter, that he never really managed it and as a result when we were hoping he could step in and take us over the line, he never really delivered. But again we need to look at where he is at. He moved to The Arsenal a year ago, he’s in a new club, a new country, new teammates, a new manager who has new demands on him. He’s also a guy who was 22-years of age, coming in to a side fighting for the title. He’s not joining a side with whom there are margins for error fighting for a Europa League place. Last season to beat Man City the blueprint is basically “win every game”. It’s deliver near perfection across the team or you’re done. You add all of these component factors together and you can understand why he might have found it difficult to make a mark.
So I guess all I’m saying here is that there are mitigating factors as to why he didn’t look like some sort of peak Santi Cazorla. But the mitigating factors can only get you so far when you are with a side who is expected to be challenging right at the top of the English and European football pyramid. Arsenal’s evolution under Arteta has been rapid and the calibre of players we have across the squad is such that we’re going to have £35 – £50million players who will be on the bench during match days. We are a side striving to go even better than the excellence of last season and that means that if Fabio Vieira is to force his way up the pecking order at the club, then he is going to need to put more of those Brentford performances and less of the ones we saw earlier this year.
What he has on his side is that he is an Arteta signing; Mikel wanted him, championed him, but you could also see at times favoured him when we needed to rotate players. There were times where I know a few people called for ESR but it was often Vieira coming on as a sub. That leeway could come in handy for Fabio, but unless he delivers a few times this season for his manager, I think we have already seen that Arteta is prepared to be ruthless in his pursuit of glory. Just ask Kieran Tierney, who was a regular at first under Arteta, it was well documented how Arteta loved his attitude and he clearly enjoys working with the Scot, yet last season he found himself on the periphery. A cautionary tale for Fabio Vieira indeed.
So it’s time to step up now Fabio, and show everyone that you deserve a spot on this Arsenal bus.
Catch you all tomorrow.