We are Arsenal Football Club, we always need to be at the top. Whenever we’re not at the top that means there’s an improvement that needs to be done. That’s it, that’s what you get when you play for a big club like Arsenal. There’s no other choice.Hector Bellerin tells it as it is.
As the big top was filled to capacity at the media circus at the wrong end of the Seven Sisters, Unai Emery found himself in front of sympathetic torturers.
Business was soon addressed; Dani Ceballos looks to be the only major absentee with Bukayo, Holding and Kolasinac all suffering minor knacks and twangs but are expected to be fit. Today is going to be a busy day in decision-making.
It looks like one Emery has taken is over Granit Xhaka. The midfielder made no secret of his bitterness of recent events when he spoke to the Swiss media. Comments about happiness and how “there will surely be a solution – as I can’t accept what has happened with me.”
Even allowing for the loose translations that the media use, that reads more of a threat than any act of contrition on his part. Should he do so? If he has genuine intentions of staying at Arsenal, it strikes me there must be an acknowledgement of his role and actions on his part.
We Are Family…
However, I don’t think he wants that outcome. “I have a clear idea as to how things should proceed, and Arsenal know this as well,” he told his compatriots. “Although I still have a contract with them, I will be glad to return to the club – so we can finally sort matters out.”
That’s fair enough and he is right; there must be some finality to this. Closure, it’s probably called.
In his absence, we haven’t been any worse than when he is included in the side. It’s hard to see how he gets back into the starting line-up. Injury? Suspension? Emery can hardly put the recent bad form down to Xhaka’s absence; we were equally as hopeless when he played.
Emery wants him back and as head coach, he is entitled to pick the XI he wants, that he believes can win. We’re just as entitled to pass an opinion on it – despite what you may read elsewhere; that’s football.
My view is that Xhaka had already lost supporters when he blamed forwards for missing chances rather than accept criticism of his own performance. Telling supporters to “F*ck off” is not acceptable behaviour for a captain. In doing so, he made himself a scapegoat forever and a day. If he came back into favour once again, we wouldn’t be talking of Lazarus anymore.
Can he improve the XI? I don’t think so. If Emery thinks he can, so be it but a January departure is probably in everyone’s best interest.
The Spaniard has bigger issues to overcome. He “knows” we need “better performances” so the XI is “connecting with supporters”. His football philosophy is that “we need to play better and control the game better ” which threw everyone. Who knew the answer was so simple?
…A Family Dose
Emery’s fundamental problem is that “we are not convincing the people, the supporters.” I beg to differ; he’s convinced most people that he’s the wrong man for the job.
But still, he has the solution. “I spoke to the players,” he said, holding the Arsenal world rapt. “Our success is going to be starting by being comfortable, strong and confident at home. We want to deserve to win each match.”
There you have it. I don’t know why anyone didn’t think of it before. That’s the sound of hands slapping against foreheads. “How thick have we been?”
Meanwhile, Hector Bellerin once more became the voice of sanity as he boogied to Sister Sledge. “We. Are. Family,” Hec crooned, “accept who we are, what we have, getting everyone together, supporting each other, and that is the way that we can reach our goals.”
He made it scan properly, proving that not only is he king of the catwalk but he rules the airwaves as well.
The observations are, of course, spot on. His, not mine, I hasten to add. Unity is required but in footballing terms, it’s the chicken and egg. Good form inspiring the crowd or the crowd inspiring good form? There is no right answer. We’ve all been to plenty of matches with a great atmosphere which inspired a poor performance and vice versa.
Arsenal’s reality is that we’re a club split. Emery could turn the situation around but seasoned football watchers know these are the death throes of his reign.
Saturday’s match against Southampton is a must-win game. They are hopelessly out of form, with dropped points from that, Norwich, Brighton and West Ham more nails for Emery’s coffin.
The spotlight’s glare intensifies with Mourinho’s appointment. Not because we wanted him but because it shows what happens when changes occur.
Arsenal, take note.