Well, if you can’t laugh at Tottenham this morning, you never will. When they went one-up, how many of them were preparing to lay into their work colleagues or mates who believe in the righteous side of north London? At 4 – 2, they thought, “Thank god for that! It can’t be 5-1!” or something similar?
7-2. Seven bloody two. Excuse me for a moment. I just need to savour that for a moment. It has truly brightened my day.
It brightened Hector Bellerin’s evening as well. There was already a strong case for handing him the captain’s armband anyway but he added to that.
But down, deep in the darkest recesses of a bunker under London Colney, plans are afoot to return football to its rightful place: the Arsenal.
Someone somewhere at the club is planning something, surely, to get this side playing football again. It is, after all, a half-decent squad. Some improvements to be made but stepping in the right direction. You wouldn’t believe that having witnessed the turgid performance at Old Trafford.
We all know it was timid and lacklustre in equal measure. I’m sure Unai Emery does as well. If he didn’t, someone on his team should be reading social media. Not many gave the players any credit for a point against a Manchester United team so poor that the stories about Ole no longer being at the wheel are surfacing.
Prepare yourself for the whooping and howling when Max Allegri joins United and Arsenal don’t exercise the break clause in Emery’s contract.
Which I can see being the situation.
Seven Dwarves? No, There Were 14 Last Night
If the season ended now, Emery has met the primary target: a top-four finish. No question about it and that will be enough to see him continue as head coach. Add in a trophy, even the League Cup, and he’ll probably get a new deal.
While we perceive the lack of character of the squad, others who are paid to decide the club’s future, do not necessarily agree. We’re not privvy to the conversations behind the scene but I would be surprised if anyone is considering Emery’s future just yet.
In footballing terms, it’s too far ahead to be planning a new boss. Momentum is building for Freddie Ljungberg to take over from Emery. The returning hero, etc.
It’s a flawed plan, just as bringing in Mikel Arteta was flawed eighteen months ago. There’s a lot to be said for new blood at the highest level of the game but until this squad is pruned and refined, a new coach isn’t going to improve our situation. And by new, I mean untested.
Arteta has learned a lot from Guardiola, I’m sure. He’s probably better equipped to take over at Arsenal now; a bit of pressure on City, instead of having everything handed on a plate.
Even then, I think an inexperienced head coach is still a risk but invariably an experienced one has been sacked to become available. Do we instead look for someone who is at a smaller club, e.g. Howe or Rodgers, and bring them in?
If Arsenal want to make a play about the ‘British Core’, the crassest marketing tool ever, then why not bring in a British coach? That genuinely highlights the absurdity of the ‘British Core’ more than anything.
Still, Myriad Problems To Be Solved
The most problematic of which is Mesut Ozil. Or rather, Mesut Ozil’s wages. This morning sees what looks to be a club-leaked story about the German being available for loan. His salary remains the issue.
Emery admitted he dropped Ozil for the trip to Old Trafford; the German’s face doesn’t fit any longer at Arsenal and he isn’t going to play unless there are injuries or it is a Thursday night. Even the latter is an optional extra.
There’s a sense that Ozil is suffering at Emery’s hands not only for the obvious issues surrounding him, i.e. fitness, attitude, but also the way Neymar bent Unai over a barrel in Paris. Emery took on the player and lost, leaving him neutered in front of the rest of the squad. That isn’t happening at Arsenal. Not yet, anyway.
Ozil played 140 minutes so far and this after a pre-season when he looked like he was going to feature heavily when the action began. It’s been a curious turn of affairs with some of the events being nothing anyone could have predicted.
However, it’s clear the club want shot of him and are actively looking to get Ozil to a new home. It’s going to cost us, either through subsidising wages on a loan deal or a big pay-off but it’s got to happen. Forget the FFP concerns; this is a hit for the benefit of the club.
Releasing those funds are seen as important for new offers for Lacazette and Aubameyang. But there’s more to it, certainly with the former than the latter.
For Auba, I suspect this one last big payday given his age. For Lacazette, any ambitions for winning titles and premier trophies won’t rest easy with the club being in a transition spell. A lot will depend on whether he genuinely believes in Emery as a coach and his philosophy, presuming he knows what the latter is.
Maybe he does and wholeheartedly agrees that until we get the squad corrected, this is as good as it gets.
Unai, for one, would be happy to hear that.