Morning all, I have a suspicion that this Interlull is going to be one of those long ones. Not that it is any longer than usual, it’s just going to feel that way. When your last game before the break is a slightly disappointing one, there’s always that desire to get going on and to put things right.
Add to that the next game is away at Old Trafford and you have something else to look forward to/dread in equal measure. It’s one of those games that could get us going again if we win and expose many of the same old failings if we don’t.
On yesterday’s Arsecast Extra I asked James, given the choice between a draw in one game and a win in other when looking at Sp*rs and United games, which he’d choose. He went for the win in the derby, which I understand. Who wouldn’t want to beat them?
But if I had this fictional option, I’d have taken the draw against them and a win at Old Trafford. Down the years we’ve lived many draws with Sp*rs and a 1-1 in a North London derby is a result that’s familiar but also a not uncommon outcome in this fixture.
And as much as I would want to win in it – remembering of course we’re dealing with a completely made-up scenario here – I feel like we’d get more from a win against United. After what happened there last season, after all the games we’ve had against Mourinho teams in the Premier League, to go there and turn them over would be more beneficial to us.
We have to bury the ghosts of what was a truly disheartening day there last season, and the way it impacted our title challenge. It would answer more questions about our character, ability and quality than winning at home against Sp*rs. And it would make Mourinho furious. Perhaps he would then come out and criticise individual players in his post-match press conference. Nah, I’m stretching it there, no manager worth his salt would do that so early in his reign at a new club … oh …
Anyway, that’s one for the not too distant future, for now, how about some good news? Well, the word is that Hector Bellerin has put pen to paper on a new deal with the club. A few weeks back I wrote about how important he has become to the team and that this importance is recognised.
He’s up there with Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Laurent Koscielny as one of the first names on the teamsheet when fit. Opportunity knocked, Hector opened the door, invited him in, made him a cup of tea and they’ve been sitting on the sofa playing Call of Duty ever since. Or something.
Although he had three years left on a deal he’d just signed in 2015, his improvement, his promotion to a full international for Spain, and just how crucial he’s become for the team have been rewarded. Imagine life without Hector? Think how bleak and empty it would be. But you don’t have to, because he’s going to be staying with a nice new contract and everything’s good.
Now, of course, there’s the small matter of Ozil and Alexis to worry about next. Negotiations are ongoing, I’m sure, and hopefully there’s going to be positive news on that front. Ozil in particular looks very happy at the moment, content with life in London and his role in the team. It almost felt like a challenge from Arsene Wenger when he spoke about him in terms of Bergkamp the other day, saying to be considered a ‘legend’ he needed to add longevity to his Arsenal career.
I do wonder if players really care about that kind of stuff anymore. Nowadays they have a fanbase that goes with them wherever they go. Move club and you’ve still got your 13m Twitter followers. Those that drop off from your old club will be replaced by those from your new destination. Every day you have online tributes and acclaim, who needs a statue?
But, I do think Ozil is in a good place when it comes to his Arsenal career, and financially we’re capable of matching what he wants, more or less. That’s also true of Alexis, who also looks a lot happier this season than he did last year, but there were times when his future was, if not touch and go, certainly not 100% assured.
He also feels like a different kind of character than Ozil, a bit more complicated, and I suspect there’s a bit more work to do when it comes to his future. Whether that’s because he’s demanding, or he has people/agents who are more difficult to deal with, I’m not sure, but I suspect the negotiating skills of Ivan and Dick are being well tested.
So, we’ll see how it goes, but for now we’ve secured one of the three that really felt hugely important. Let’s hope they can make it a hat-trick.
And if you didn’t get a chance yet to listen to this week’s Arsecast Extra, check it out below for post North London derby chat, lots of listener questions, evil snakes, volcano death and James explains why he got changed into ladies clothes in an Uber. It’s all in there for you.
Finally, keep an eye out later on today as we’ll be putting tickets on sale for the Arsecast Extra LIVE which is taking place in the Garage, Highbury & Islington, on Thursday November 24th, the day after the PSG game. Join James, myself and guests for an evening of Arsenal chatter and more. I’ll put up a post about it here, and obviously announce on Twitter etc.
There’s also a Tactics Column coming later today, for now have a good one.