Having been in the Cotswolds with friends enjoying some relaxation, booze and nice food, I managed to avoid the post match frustration from Saturday until yesterday evening. James and I did the Same Old Arsenal post match pod chat and, if I’m honest, on this occasion it didn’t feel like as much catharsis as it usually does.
I think that’s because we didn’t get either ends of the football fan spectrum, just the – as I put it – it that you can’t scratch. We didn’t win the game and so can’t talk about the elation of picking up the points, but nor did we lose the game in which you want to rage against all things Arsenal to try to vent some of the anger away. Instead we drew, but not one of the ‘good’ draws. You know, like if you go away to United or Liverpool and you’re losing, then you pull it back and afterwards you’re saying “take that and move on to the game next week” type result. This was the other end of the draw spectrum in which it feels more like a loss because we had it all in our hands and we conspired to fudge it completely.
As a fan I do tend to fall victim to the fact that I see every and any Arsenal result in quite a binary way; it is either a good result, or a bad result, even with draws. You have either got one of those “we’ll take it” or you’re saying to yourselves “you can’t be dropping points in that match”. The reality is you get the same number of points whether you’ve last minute equalised or conceded late to a team with 10 men that you pretty much battered the whole game.
I think the questions we’re all asking ourselves right now doesn’t help either. We’re all seeing this new approach from Arteta and it has started with some stuttering performances. We’re casting our minds back to the beginning of last season and the free flowing football and the wins and putting two and two together to make up whatever number we want. I’m doing the same by the way. On Saturday after the game I stewed for quite some time about the draw and in my head repeatedly said “you can’t afford to drop any points in this league because City won’t” but the reality is that at the beginning of last season I think people were saying the same about Man City, that they had not been at their free flowing best and that Pep didn’t know his best team or how to get the best out of Haaland. Yet he still bagged the goals and they still got the results. And City did drop points in those opening weeks; they drew with Newcastle on 21st August and Villa on 3rd September. So whilst we can and all should be frustrated with this weekend’s football, I’m coming around to the idea that as long as Arteta and the team are looking at how to rectify some of the mistakes and cut those out, there is an opportunity for redemption at home to United this coming Sunday.
For me I do believe Arteta has to shift the balance though, because in the first half in particular it just didn’t work against Fulham. I am hopeful he will; Zinchenko to come back in, which should enable Gabriel to come in and providing there isn’t some mega money bid from the Saudi’s that has indeed turned his head and he’s ready to go, then I think we go back to what worked against United and go with the familiar back four and Partey at the base. There will be more time for that analysis of the upcoming game in the coming days though. For now all eyes are on the draw for the Champions League on Thursday and the closing of the transfer window in the UK. We need to get the Balogun deal all done and dusted and then hopefully fend off any interest for Gabriel, so we can all get on with our lives and focus on picking up some very important points if we want to compete towards the top end of the league this season.
There might be a surprise or two still in store though and the rumours doing the rounds yesterday were that Chelsea are taking a serious look at Emile Smith Rowe. I would like to personally going on record at this point and say Emile Smith “Hella NO” for that particular deal. A Hale End boy heading over to that disgrace of a football club in West London? Surely not Arsenal? The only way that it becomes something that anybody should even take the opportunity to read the email from them on is if the numbers are so eye watering that you’d think Todd Boehly has syphoned off some of that Saudi capital that is sloshing around the game at the moment. IF Chelsea come to us and offer us £100million then you have to look at it, but I’ve seen talks of a £50million bid coming in and if that is the case I say we should give them a hard rebuff. He’s still got plenty of talent, he’s still a good age and I think he can still play an important part in our season. He hasn’t been getting picked at the moment but the season is long and what I don’t want to see is him banging in a Chelsea shirt, whilst we still insist on playing Havertz even if the experiment doesn’t work.
I should probably not be going in too hard on Havertz right now, but it is hard not too when you see a performance like the weekend. I am also guilty of not really understanding why we bought him in the first place and so I have a bias that I need to iron out; I am prejudicing Havertz because what I feared might happen with him is happening, but Arteta is a cleverer football man than me and Arsenal have got so much wrong, that I am fighting myself to tell myself that he will come good, he just needs time to bed in. So that is what I am going to keep on saying to myself for now. But when you see him play like he did at the weekend and then you hear rumours that ESR could be on the move, you naturally leap to the defence of a guy who has come through the ranks at the club.
Anyway, I’ll stop there I think, otherwise I’ll go even further down in to a rabbit hole and I should probably just hold fire for now.
You have yourselves a fine ol’ day and I will catch you all in the morrow.