Friday, June 2, 2023

Clean sheets, Szczesny and Wilshere contract

Morning all.

It’s cold and dark and I can’t believe we’re nearly into December. Time flies, eh? Even when you’re not having much fun. Or maybe that’s just part of getting old. Anyway, I have coffee and coffee is good.

There’s obviously been lots of discussion about Villa and where it all went wrong over the last few days. And perhaps it’s a sign of the times that it all going wrong is a 0-0 draw. As frustrating as it was it’s not the worst result in the world, and maybe at a time when Arsenal fans can find the cloud in every situation, we need to look at the silver lining a bit.

I think it’s quite unique and symptomatic of the modern game and Fanalysis that there could be outrage and complaints about a new commercial deal which will provide us with £25m more per season to work with. And in football terms, while there was much to be frustrated about at Villa, there were some positives.

1 – Clean sheet

2 – We didn’t concede

3 – They didn’t score

4 – Our net minder didn’t have to pick one out of the onion bag

5 – Their forwards didn’t get off the mark

6 – Villa made no positive inroads into their goal difference

7 – The large rectangular piece of cotton, or some other fabric (depending on how fancy you are), which is placed on top of the mattress, remained unsoiled.

8 – Erm …

Well, you get the picture. It’s the first time since the opening weeks of the season that we’ve kept consecutive clean sheets and that is something we can build on. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Everton are going to be a bit more threatening tomorrow night and hopefully we’ll go into the game a with a bit more defensive confidence.

Without wishing to jinx him like a common ocelot (hugely prone to being jinxed by other large cats, bear that in mind if ever getting a pet because you could end up in the danger zone without even knowing it), I think the return of Wojciech Szczesny has been important. Mannone did ok, in fairness to him, but the Pole transmits an aura of security to his defenders. It’s hard to quantify really, but if you try and visualise the team it just feels stronger with him in it than without.

Much like our midfield feels better with Jack Wilshere it or how you’d prefer Giroud to Chamakh. Which isn’t to say others can’t do a job but some people are just better at stuff than others. To me Szczesny looks focused and determined to put a difficult few months behind him. He says his ankle isn’t 100% yet, but good enough to play, and I think the fact that he’s been brought back despite still carrying a bit of a knock is illustrative of how important he could be for this team.

He’s been talking about tomorrow night’s game too and says:

It will be a six-pointer. It will be a very good game for us to win. We managed to get three points last year and it was a really tough match.

We have managed to get a couple of good results recently. It would have been good if we had won on Saturday but we shall take it game by game and hope for the best. We need to climb the table and hopefully do well in the other competitions as well.

The usual kind of stuff, nothing particularly groundbreaking, but there’s no time to dwell on Villa. The games come so fast at this time of year that there is the chance to put things right quickly, which is a good thing in my opinion. I do worry that talk of the players being tired is kind of self-defeating, and as an excuse for poor results or performance it’s one of the most frustrating to listen to, but we’ll see what this lot are made of tomorrow night. More on that game tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there are various reports this morning suggesting that Arsenal are talking to Jack Wilshere about a new contract. Which makes perfect sense to me. For a start he’s not heading into the final year of his current deal and, well, he’s one of our best players and should be a huge part of our future so let’s get him tied down. Its hard to envisage any real issues with this one. I’m hesitant to say Jack loves the club because footballers are adulterous bastards at the best of times. One minute they love you, the next they’re packing their things and moving in with some old red faced, saggy-moobed Scot up the road, but I don’t really think there’ll be any problems here.

And when it does happen, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs also in discussions, following recent new deals for Jenkinson, Koscielny and Vermaelen (who let’s not forget pledged his future to the club at a difficult time last year), it’s further evidence that when there’s the desire from both sides to make a deal happen it usually goes down without much fuss at all.

Beyond that it’s fairly quiet this morning. I’m assuming there’ll be some kind of pre-Everton press conference but given how tetchy things were after the Villa game on Saturday I wouldn’t be surprised if the midweek travel etc was used as an excuse not to have one. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Update: there is one

Finally, if you fancy winning one of two pairs of tickets for Saturday’s home game against Swansea, check out the competition right here.

Right, that’s that. Have a good one, Ocelot fans. Till tomorrow.

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