Pre-season training has started and last season has clearly taken its toll on Mikel Arteta, as you can see in the picture below.
Please note that this is a handmade Photoshop aging that I am selling as an NFT for $ 65,000,000 or 17 trillion JoshCoin, KSE’s new cryptocurrency.
Months of thinking ‘Why did I get a Willian who no longer knows Willian?’ take their toll on a man. Which is fine, because several months of seeing a Willian who no longer knows Willian also has an effect on fans. You reap what you sow, etc.
Me sowing: Haha damn yes !!! Yes!!
Me reaps: Well, this shit sucks. What the hell.
– The Golden Sir (@screaminbutcalm) March 12, 2019
I know it’s easy to be cynical, but one of the things I’m really interested in this summer is trying to figure out if there’s going to be tactical shifts based on the players we sign. I know this requires that we actually sign some players – not something we have officially managed to do yet – but when and when that happens, I’m curious to see if that means any changes.
Back in December last year, the manager was as open as he has ever been about what his long-term plan was for the team, saying:
“We want to go to a 4-3-3, but for that you need a lot of specificity in each position, but now in five or six positions we do not have it.”
Some considered it a bit useful at the time and said that the players you had could not play as you wanted, but I do not think it is quite as cut and dried. At least it outlined a vision for what he wants and the football he wants us to play, and even though I might be classified as a kind of wild optimist (or an idiot), I can not believe that football Arteta has served up so far is what he really wants.
This is a man trained in Barcelona, and while he had some influential years under leaders like Walter Smith and David Moyes, he worked most closely with two of the greatest attacking leaders ever – Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola. Maybe I’m naive, but no team scoring 55 goals in a league season will ever do any of the substance, and no manager who regularly earns that kind of fare will keep their job long at a club like Arsenal. Nor does it make you attractive to other big clubs you might have ambitions to work at.
It may be that Arteta wants to be more open, expansive and attacking, but just can not do it, but I think it is different than being someone who is happy with a team that just does not create enough chances and the opposition causes enough problems. This really is his first ‘proper’ summer in charge, because even though it was the same for everyone due to the pandemic last year, it was still ridiculously complicated and different from normal.
Which is not to say he hasn’t already changed the team to some degree, but it’s a bit like sanding an old door before painting it. The old scaly bits, Ozil cracks, the Mustafi stain, the annoying Guendouzi knot in the woods – all gone with others. But that was the priming, and this summer is his chance to paint again. We all look to see what color it will have. Will it be brilliant red and white or a disappointing quarterback brown? It sounds a bit flippant, but the players Arteta and the club are bringing in this summer should have some sort of transforming effect on our season.
Whether you think things ‘after Christmas’ are rubbish or not, I think it’s something to build on, but the seasons can only really be judged by what you do from August to May. I reckon there is probably a little more leeway if you start like a house on fire and then tail off, as opposed to a terrible opening and strong finish, but in the end it is where you end up that will decide how your work is seen. If both scenarios see you in the 8th, it’s not good enough no matter how you got to finish there.
Arteta is not a stupid man, so he knows Arsenal need to improve. It’s now about how he makes it happen. Does he have enough faith / belief in his own football vision to go with it? And if he does, it is his responsibility to sanction / identify the players who fit, and for the club to make these offers happen. Then all bets are off, no apologies, etc., because this will be true his team and it’s up to him to produce the football and results that this Arsenal must demand.
Okay, I’ll leave it there until this morning. If there is news today, maybe a signature (perishes the thought), we cover it further Annual Blog News. For discussion of Euro 2020, Bukayo Sakas England, the tournament in general and much more there is a brand new podcast below with @jamesbenge. Congratulations on listening, catch up later.