Morning all, after Tomas Rosicky’s sensible words yesterday it’s the turn of Mikel Arteta today. In an interview in the Mirror he lays bare the current situation and says that the players are working hard to put things right. Rightly, in my opinion, calling Swansea the lowest point of the season, but he’s backing the team to provide a response against West Brom tomorrow.
The players are angry. I think that’s a good thing. You look at the players’ faces, the disappointment, the hurt. They want to put it right. You’ve got players here demanding and wanting to do extra training. It’s in themselves to work harder to put it right.
We have been watching videos over and over again of games, looking at what we’ve done wrong. That comes from everyone, absolutely everyone.
This is interesting, and maybe it’s not something entirely new, but that kind of analysis seems rather beneficial for a team like ours. We make a lot of individual mistakes so maybe looking at them in a bit more depth could help cut them out. And like Rosicky, the Spaniard recognises the team’s responsibility in terms of the crowd and how they feed into the atmosphere.
We need to start well, give the crowd a hand and something to cheer. That will give them a lift and that’s so important. It’s so important for the crowd to get behind us. But we can’t expect them to get behind us unless we give them something that they want to watch.
It seems obvious to say that the team can be inspired by having the fans behind them but then you look at the first 45 against Swansea and the lethargy of that performance. Despite some injury worries, which I’ll come to in a moment, we should have some fresher legs against West Brom than we might have. Arteta, Cazorla, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Wilshere and Giroud all stayed at home and all will start tomorrow. Although there’s pressure there’s no excuse for the team to start slowly and hopefully we can set the pace rather than frantically trying to catch up with the opposition.
Arteta, finally, is trying to find the positive and finishes with:
We’re in the Champions League knock-out stage. We’re five points behind fourth place. That’s not far. First place is now very, very difficult, if I’m being honest. But there’s a lot still there for us – the FA Cup is there, the Capital One Cup, the Champions League. There’s still six months to go, so you have to keep believing.
And even if we’re not completely convinced that’s surely the outlook the players have to take. There is time to turn things around, 5 points is nothing really (we have minded gaps far more significant than that), the cups are still there (something we chat about in today’s Arsecast actually), and there’s still Europe … erm. Anyway, if the talk is being talked then the walk needs to be walked, starting tomorrow.
As I mentioned the team news isn’t exactly ideal going into the West Brom game. We know Laurent Koscielny is out with a knackered groin, but joining him on the sidelines are Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Bacary Sagna (foot) and Theo Walcott (calf). Obviously that’s not great from an attacking point of view, and as a team which isn’t exactly flush with options the fitter everyone is the better, but we’re just going to have to knuckle down and cope.
With Rosicky back, however, perhaps he could come into the midfield and play in Cazorla’s position, with the Spaniard moving to a wider role on the left. It’s not as if he hasn’t played there before, he’d be quite comfortable and it allows Rosicky to add that bit of zip and bite to midfield that we’ve been missing. As pointed out in the Tactics Column this week the Arteta – Wilshere – Cazorla triumvirate hasn’t quite clicked yet so this could be a decent option and would, at least, bring something a bit different to the team.
Meanwhile, Bacary Sagna is calling for a bit more wisdom. You can never have enough of that in my opinion:
We just need to be wiser. We have had the opportunity to win games, and for some reason we don’t. We’ve made some mistakes in the past and now we want to impose ourselves on our season.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about his contract situation, and while I’m staunchly in favour of giving him a new deal and ensuring we maintain some stability and consistency in our squad, I also get the feeling that these stories about his contract suggest the groundwork is being laid for his departure. It’s not an unfamiliar scenario, snippets appear in papers about a player’s dismay at not being offered what he wants which alerts those who might give him just that. I love Sagna, I want him to stay but I think this is going to be another one of those situations, sadly.
Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Goodplaya to discuss recent form, the manager, his future, and the rest of our season. There’s an update from TGSTEL and your chance to win a scarf from our friends at Savile-Rogue. Remember, you can get 10% off any order from Savile Rogue by using the code ARSEBLOG12 at checkout – but you must do this before Dec 15th, so get shopping.
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