Slightly delayed one from me today. Had the work Christmas party last night but actually feel quite alright – managed to avoid getting too plastered, but did get home late and so decided to have a lie in. But no Mikel Arteta press conference yet, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and have my say on it tomorrow when he’s done his ahead of the Brighton game on Sunday. It’ll be an interesting one because we all know what the big topic of conversation will be – the confirmation that Arteta will face no charges following his comments post the Newcastle game about the refereeing standards and decisions.
I gotta say I’m surprised, because we have become pariahs in the media and Mikel Arteta is the chief perpetrator in the views of the football world right now, so I was half expecting a three, four or five game touchline ban. But when you read some of the details in the statement and the amount of legal mumbo-jumbo that went in to the documentation, it feels like Arteta has been on trial and been found not guilty by a selection of Joe Public. I’m sure these processes happen all of the time and maybe because it isn’t The Arsenal I am not as invested and therefore tune it out, but this feels very much like a full on trial for what is practically the same as getting a speeding ticket. It is over the top, it’s taken too long and it feels politically motivated.
I had to chuckle at the bit about the use of the Spanish term ‘desgracia’ versus the English terminology of ‘disgrace’ being used as one of the reasons why this needs to be thrown out. I gets on a technical basis it’s true, but if we’re really saying that Mikel Arteta didn’t know the exact meaning of what he was saying having lived and worked in this country for almost two decades, then I think there’s a little bit of cheeky naivety going on here. I’m all for it to be honest and as I said on Twitter:
Anyway, the good thing is that Arteta is cleared, he’ll be back on the touchline and able to impact games from this weekend with his barking instructions of all of his players. The down side might be, of course, that we get a bit of backlash. I’m not fussed about some of the gutter trash journo’s pulling out “this sets the tone and a bad precedent for football managers” nonsense; they weren’t saying the same when Klopp was literally spitting his rage in the faces of fourth officials, so don’t come at my manager now, please, sirs. You want to start a staunch defence of the shoddy standards of refereeing then you go right ahead, but do it every week when every manager makes comments, don’t just go for Arteta because it’s easy to have a pantomime villain and general ‘bad guy’ in your narrative. They’re all at it.
Instead, I’m slightly more concerned that the PGMOL Old Boys network, having had seen that the law isn’t in favour of them, will now be refereeing us very differently to others in the league. That 50/50 call that Liverpool get? Yeah, that ain’t gonna be us boys and guys – that’s my big worry. Hopefully I’m wrong, hopefully it can all settle down, but just seeing how some of the 50/50 calls were just ignored last weekend against Villa, makes me wonder if we’ll start to see a regular pattern emerging. Hopefully not.
The other news that I’m excited to find out about is when we get Thomas Partey back. It was only yesterday that I was saying that if he isn’t around for Anfield then we’ll have him for probably just a couple of games before he flits off to the AFCON, but seeing him in training with some pictures I’ve seen released today is brilliant. He’s such a transformative player for us and if fully fit can be a huge boost to this team at a time in which we’ve been seeing people drop what feels like every week. Seeing ESR return to the squad earlier in the week, now noises of Partey coming back, is brilliant. I’d be shocked if he’s anywhere near the matchday squad on Sunday, but if he can get an additional week of training under his belt next week, to add to his return this week, then that would be awesome for us. And given the schedule we have, if he can play minutes against West Ham and then Fulham on New Year’s Eve, well, that could be very important in the context of the season. We still lose him to the AFCON in January, but let’s embrace a few games with him now if we can.
Let’s see what Arteta says in a bit though, as he’s often quite cautious about this stuff and although he doesn’t give anything away in these pressers, we’re just looking for little hints, a smile, anything really, that has us at least a bit tantalised about the return of the Ghanaian in midfield.
I think I’ll leave it there for the time being. Time to get on with the ret of the working day.
Have yourselves a good’un and if you feel like tuning in to a pre match pod with me and my mate Merv, you can do so here on the Same Old Arsenal podcast.