Happy Friday folks. Let’s hope this weekend ends rather more positively from an Arsenal perspective than the last, because frankly, the negativity after a defeat leaves me feeling more nauseous than the result itself.
Why? Simply because too many fans and pundits are far too reactionary and it’s draining. The default remedy for many, involves buying someone, anyone, as if the transfer market offers some kind of guarantee for points and wins.
And love him or hate him, the manager Arsene Wenger, not for the first time, made this very point when he was inevitably asked about potential new additions to his squad at his pre-match press conference today. He said:
We are as open (to buying) after that bad result (West Ham) as we were before. We were working very hard and we are focused to do what can strengthen our squad. The availability is not big. If we find somebody anywhere who strengthens our squad then we will do it. It is not easy, it is not supermarket stuff where you go in and say, ‘I would like this, please can you give it to me.’ The availability is not easy. When you lose a game you always get that kind of demand, we have to be honest enough and ask, ‘Could we have won the game without any addition?’ and I would say yes. Always the solution comes from outside, lets look inside at ourselves and produce the performance that is expected of us. I think that would be much more intelligent than always expecting a miracle from outside.
Which is spot on. My criticism of last week would involve asking why the players seemed so rushed in their passing? Perhaps even why Santi Cazorla had been moved from his central midfield berth of the second half of last season? And also why a clearly unfit Alexis Sanchez was on the bench, and then quite astonishingly, thrust into action?
But too much of the post-match talk entailed lampooning players like Olivier Giroud for supposedly being the cause of the team’s malfunction. If anything, the one position you would say we needed an improvement based on the opening 90 minutes of our new Premier League campaign would have been goalkeeper!
The reality of course, is that we had a bad opening day at the office but still have almost the entire season to make amends. In fact, we’ll have more of those days like last Sunday, as every other team will, the crucial task is for us to limit them as best we can through preparation, hard work and executing our style to the best of our collective capabilities.
All that said, football is an emotional pass-time for millions of fans and disappointment is obviously understandable, something the manager was quick to appreciate today:
[Our fans have] passion, love and that’s why it hurts [to lose]. We have a big following and disappointed people are emotional and that is understandable. It hurts us to disappoint people who have a high level of expectation. On our side we have to put things in perspective, we come out from a very strong run and we have 37 games to go. It’s how we respond [that matters]. Our job is to deal with this kind of reaction and just to keep your mind on your job, that means play football well and enjoy it. I believe we have a great group, we have a fantastic mentality and we have a united group of players. We were disappointed with the result [against West Ham] and with our performance. We have analysed what happened to us but we don’t have to go overboard with what happened. It is a defeat and it hurts but that shouldn’t take our belief in our potential away.We have the history behind us in the second half of the campaign last year that we have the quality to respond always and to be consistent. Defeat is part of the season and of course that was not planned but we know it is how we respond to these kind of things that will make our season.
It’s worth considering that last point again I think – we’ll lose again this season in all probability and although we can take great pride in being able to boast an unbeaten league campaign in our history, the lower-ranked teams in the division are perhaps improving at a greater rate than the top sides, making a repeat of 2004 all the more fanciful. This of course is due to significantly increased revenue across the board, combined with a lack of available, genuinely world class talent for the top four to significantly improve their squads. Again, Arsene made the point:
It will certainly be a tighter and tougher league because the quality of teams in the lower half of the table has improved. I believe in every game… what gives you a good indication is if you look at the bench of the team you play against, and when you look at the teams in the second part of the table and you look at their benches, it indicates that you will have tough games. I never had many easy matches in my life but it is always getting more difficult, that’s true.
Which brings us almost full circle to the training field. If everyone can buy, the difference will be made in the management and preparation of players, which should in turn lead to an improvement in the quality and consistency of the football they produce.
See you on Saturday.