Football’s back and ’tis a blessed relief; no more pericombobulation for us now the international break is over. The next time it wreaks havoc on the season is when the World Cup finals start; not a bad interruption to make, I will say.
Arsène sets his mind to waffle mode today as he meets the press ahead of the weekend’s match against Stoke City. There’s something reassuring in seeing their plight. Even amid our own tribulations, their relegation [record scratches across the vinyl surface]
I did all that yesterday? Bugger.
It was Steve Bould who took the press conference today with Arsene losing his voice, presumably through talking too much to beIN Sports. That will send some of the manager’s critics into apoplexy. Wenger’s international break routine drew criticism as he continued his punditry duties; it makes not one iota of difference to Arsenal whether he does or not.
The question of Alexandre Lacazette’s fitness was addressed. The Frenchman is in full training and will need a runout on Sunday at some point. With our track record, the concern must be that he’s going to feel his hamstring twang ahead of the CSKA game. Still, Danny Welbeck is in scoring form so we should be alright.
The Europa League is the final frontier to be conquered this season. Arsène doesn’t view it as the high upon which he can depart. I’m sure, however, that it is the ‘progress’ he will rely upon in his end of season chat with Enos and Junior. And then he’ll tell them he’s decided to carry on and we muddle our way through as per.
Will that appease the backroom staff? Carlo Ancelotti is keeping Italy hanging on in the hope he can move to the Emirates and he will be among the candidates considered. With the new backroom staff in place and taking on some of the duties Arsène previously guarded with his life, will Wenger’s departure be as seismic as it once seemed?
I don’t think so. It will shock some supporters more than the players; most of the signings have seen changes of coaches before.
Leave Death to the Professionals.
Inevitably the question of Jack’s knack will arise. How bad is it, etc., including whether Wilshere should go to the World Cup. That he broke so quickly with England suggests that like Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal nursed him through recent weeks. Which, if true, makes a mockery of the contract offer made. We knackered him up and then tried to stitch him up.
My view is that it’s a case of footballing pass the parcel. Wenger’s backing of the player this season is hollow given he told Jack to do one last summer. However, he will say, “I told you I wanted Jack to stay but contracts are not my job”. Arsenal will say the club made the best offer it could in the circumstances, conveniently ignoring our complicity in those circumstances.
Then in the summer, we’ll be told Wilshere leaving dropped us in the cart as it uses up some of our transfer funds to replace him. Money we simply haven’t got, they will argue. The top four is our best hope so wind your necks in, we’ll be told.
I’m getting the hang of this football club politics. It’s not rocket science, is it?
Thank god there is a match this weekend.
And there is. The rustiness inherent in our performances after the international break will be there but we need to hit the ground running. Stoke will give the watching CSKA scouts some defensive ideas but they seem to have a few of their own. The only away game they lost so far in Europe was in the Champions League at Manchester United. Otherwise, it’s five wins and a draw on the road.
To claim it all depends on the opposition seems superfluous; we’re Arsenal and frankly, you never know which Arsenal will turn up.
Is That What You Say to People After Death? “Goodness, That’s Awkward”?
Which brings us full circle. If the circle begins halfway down the page. Is the Europa League enough to be deemed progress this season?
It’s a cup. We’ve become a cup side in recent years, there’s no denying that. Arguably, we should have become a cup side sooner; some of the last decade might have been easier for him to bear. Certainly, horrible cup defeats at places like Stoke City might not have happened; Blackburn either.
Yes, I know that last one was at home. We had the misfortunate to watch that abysmal performance with a weakened side because we needed to have everyone fit for a Champions League twatting.
Anyway, is the Europa League progress? In the sense that it’s a European trophy, yes; sadly, it can’t be viewed in isolation. The Premier League is drifting backwards. One place down this year on last, what next? Seventh, eighth? They look more likely than challenging for fourth.
It seems to us on the outside that the manager can’t inspire the players and is tactically naive. On the inside, the view may be different. Crucially, none of know what Enos is being told and that’s the deal breaker/clincher, whatever you want to call it. And that only becomes clear when the season ends.