Boring, Boring Arsenal
It was Sunday and apparently it was “live“ according to an obnoxious commentator and his trusty reactionary sidekick, as I watched Arsenal vs Manchester City.
It was a rather drab game for pretty much anyone but an open armed Pep Guardiola, who was full of joy and praise for both teams as his Man City side strolled to a 1-0 win, in a game some have described as a python suffocating its pray.
Had both teams warned us after 90 seconds that the rest of the game would be a dead heat with neither really contesting it, I could have had a power nap or something.
My power naps and commentator irritations aside, the Arsenal fan base reacted ferociously to a performance more than a result its seems. Maybe Arsenal fans had thought of games like when Leeds valiantly went toe to toe with City earlier this season and finished drawing 1 -1 with the sky blue juggernauts, in hope their side could do the same.
What Mikel Arteta opted for it seems was a safety first approach ,whilst resting a few key members for the Europa League tie against a Benfica side this Thursday.
Its debatable who are more ambitious between this Arsenal coaching/ownership team and the fans, with many accusing the Kroenkes of seeing Arsenal as a mere cash cow or pretty face on the arm of their empire.
This summer saw the Kroenkes pay the £50 million needed for the full payment of Thomas Partey’s release clause, which is a nice sign they may be willing to pay the figures needed now should an adequate case be made.
Arsenal fans are desperate to be eating at the same table as the likes of Man City and Liverpool, when it comes to European football and competing for titles. Although that said it is worth remembering it was 30 years since Liverpool won their last league title, so maybe a little patience is needed right now at Arsenal, or at least perspective.
Some parts of the fan base utter the fabled words “trust the process” ,though the aforementioned process would be a lot easier to trust, had there been evidence of those we are trusting at the club, shown they can do it at other clubs etc
As it stands we have small glimmers of light in games against Leeds or a first half against Wolves and not forgetting a win at Old Trafford. Of course some may bring to mind the FA cup and Community shield wins, but when Wigan can win the FA cup and get relegated in the same year, I’m not actually sure what winning them cups in modern day football tell you about any team.
I guess with all this said, this is why the Europa League is so important, if Arsenal can navigate it and even win it, they will qualify for the Champions league, where all the big teams play and indeed earn lots of money.
A European cup win would be a huge milestone for this Arsenal team, it could be the cornerstone of what the next great Arsenal side is built.
Realistically though if Arsenal were to be knocked out of the competition and fail to qualify in the league for European football, it would also be seen by all quarters as a failure. This is a results based business, individual player progress only matters when that results in your team winning games and qualifying you for tournaments or winning competitions.
Questions will be had at the end of the season as to what direction the club goes regardless of league position, is Mikel Arteta getting enough out of the players he has or can someone else get more out of them as a collective?
Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United is somewhat of an elephant in the room for many high spending clubs when It comes to getting the most out of what he has. Bielsa took a mid table Championship team and coached them to winning the title and now sitting 11th in the Premier league. I wouldn’t suggest for one moment Arsenal should try go for him because he wouldn’t last two minutes in the political atmosphere at Arsenal football club but he is an example of maximising what you have and potentially the standard Arsenal should be looking for from their own managers.
Arsenal can’t afford to be spending the same money as the two Manchester clubs , it’s also not sustainable in the backdrop of a financially crippling pandemic, to be doing so either. So they need to find the answers from within, they need to be making their own players, play to the best of their ability, whilst making shrewd purchases that then also grow to be better also.
There seems to be growing links with Brentford, with a number of their coaches joining Arsenal, as well as players like goalkeeper David Raya constantly linked to the club. It has to be almost encouraged that Arsenal take a leaf out of their London neighbours approach to transfers and planning, who seem to grow as a club on a yearly basis regardless if they sell a player or two in the process.
Brentford whose owner, Matthew Benham also owns Danish side Midtjylland , base most of their recruitment and planning on analytics’s or as some call it “the money ball approach”. Recently Arsenal technical director Edu Gaspar also decided to go this way by sacking many scouts and putting more focus on the data driven side of recruitment so with one eye one Brentford, who knows where else this leads Arsenal next.
In conclusion all I ask in these uncertain times , is to be certain that when I watch Arsenal I am entertained, that I have a smile on my face, that I know the players care as much as I do and that I can trust every member of the club is pulling in the same direction, fighting to repay the loyalty, passion and indeed money we pay them.
Starting tonight and going for the rest of the season, no more excuses, no more squabbling , no more underperforming Chelsea sleeper agents. Please, “I’m begging you from my soul”. entertain me Arsenal.