This young Arsenal side must take the next step
Morning and happy Wednesday to you wonderful people. I don’t know about you but this week has absolutely flown by for me and as two big games loom on the horizon in the space of four games from tomorrow, the nerves are starting to kick in.
So too is the realisation that by Monday things could look very good, a bit ‘meh’, or a bit bleak. It could all swing on these next two games and so my hope is that those players with knocks can overcome them and be ready to play from tomorrow. I suspect we’ll know more today because there is bound to be a press conference ahead of the trip to Anfield and that’s where the team news will tell us all.
- Has Granit Xhaka recovered from COVID and has he tested negative?
- Is Tomiyasu over his knockthat kept him away from the team at the weekend?
- The same for Emile Smith Rowe – is he available?
- Can somebody give Nuno Tavares a hug?
- Is there an available member of staff who can lock Cedric Soares in the toilets at London Colney before they leave today?
So many questions we need answering and hopefully Mikel can provide those answers today. I’d go as far as to say that based on what the outcome of that press conference is will affect my mood this afternoon, because if we have what looks like a strong enough team, then I’ll feel more confident ahead of these two games. If we are still missing a host of players for tomorrow then you have to wonder what will unfold. Originally I thought that Liverpool would play a weakened team in this competition but I’m becoming more and more convinced they will go full strength tomorrow night. That’s why they have cheated the system, because they want their first teamers back for the game, which is worrying as an Arsenal fan because let’s face it, we don’t exactly have a stellar record up there in the last ten years or so.
What will be key tomorrow is just to keep the score down to a respectable level – assuming Liverpool go strong with their team – and then try to win it at The Emirates. More on that game tomorrow but in terms of the next five days if we lose tomorrow and then get beaten at the Toilet Bowl, come Monday morning it will all feel a little dreary in the Arsenal world. That would make it four defeats on the spin in all competitions and my biggest worry is that the confidence that this young team has shown will soon dissipate as quickly as it arrived. Over the Christmas period we had swagger and were looking good. We were shafted against City but looked good. Sunday was a shocker but tomorrow evening a good performance can bring us back on track and repeating that at the weekend will really have fans excited.
And if we can get noises that this Vlahovic chap is on the verge of signing then it will only boost morale amongst the fanbase even more. As Mikel has said we have made good progress, we’ve all talked about the connection we feel with this team, but for all of the positivity and appreciation shown, for all of those games at the Emirates in which it has felt fans and the team are as one and connected, we have won nothing yet. The good work and the good feeling is great but to really make that step up you need to start doing it consistently enough to win trophies. Alright, the League Cup is hardly the pinnacle of success in the game, but it represents the first little step in to establishing this team as a potential future Arsenal side that is great. In 1987 George Graham’s side beat Liverpool in the final to win the League Cup. That is widely regarded as the start of the success that saw us win the league in 1989, then in 1991, followed by FA and League Cup success in 1993 and the Cup Winners Cup in 1994. Six cups in seven years and if you’re old enough as an Arsenal fan you’ll remember the names and see them as legends. This young team could do the same, but they have to get over the line.
In 1987 it was Lukic, O’Leary, Adams, Rocastle, Davis, Thomas and Groves who all stuck around for 89 and most of those players played a big part in getting Arsenal back to the top of the division. In 2022 we have Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Tomiyasu, Tierney, Partey, Saka and Smith Rowe who we all kind of feel that they could be on the cusp of that greatness, but they have to overcome periods like this. Beating up the smaller teams is one thing but winning against a big team away from home is still on the ‘to do’ list. We won’t have Partey for those next two games but if we can have the rest of those players fully fit – or a variation of – tomorrow and on Sunday, then I’ve got my fingers crossed that the current marker of away wins at big clubs can be passed.
As for the other news, well, there isn’t really much worth talking about given that it’s all still about Vlahovic and potentially Guimarães from Lyon to come in to the club in midfield to cover our current lack of players there. There’s talk about it that’s been going on for a while now and I have to say when these stories are repeated again and again by the press ad nasuem I get a bit bored with it to be honest. I also worry that you get your hopes up on a player joining only to learn that nothing happens by the end of the window, so I don’t think I’ll invest much more time thinking about it. I’ve seen people saying that GUendouzi has similar stats to Guimarães and so we have missed out on him by flogging him, but the only thing I regret about the whole sorry Guendouzi saga is that Marseille have already agreed a fee for him and will get him for next to nothing given how much we might have got him for. He was a decent but not amazing player for us, his attitude stunk and there were rumours of multiple disciplinary breaches at the Arsenal. There have also been a few noises about his attitude at Marseille but whilst they are still in the honeymoon period with the player, he is playing well. Maybe he’ll turn in to an elite midfielder but the guy I saw was average and thought a bit too much of himself. I’m personally glad we got rid and if Guimarães is even just a slight upgrade on Guendouzi, if we then have a player who will also put his head down and work and not be such a clown half the time, then that’s fine with me.
Right, I think I’ll leave it there for today, things to do and emails to type. You know how it is. Have a good one and I’ll catch you for some pre match thoughts tomorrow.