It’s being reported that Arsene Wenger has gone away for a few days, to have a think about what he’s going to do. I don’t blame him, I’d go away for a few days now if I could. Although I wouldn’t do an Air B’n’B where you just get a room in someone’s house while they’re there. How weird is that? I’m highly suspicious of the people who are willing to pay to do that, and of the people who would let strangers sleep in their gaff.
Anyway, leaving that aside, the manager spoke to beIN Sports about his future, the protests, the contract situation with Ozil and Sanchez, and more. He also asked for a bit of perspective about the current situation, saying:
We suffer a lot at the moment, but when you take a bit of distance and put things into perspective, we have two games in hand, we are in the semi-final of the cup against City, so our season will be decided by how we respond to this period we have.
Bear with me here, because this might be viewed as a ‘controversial hot take’, but I want us to win those two games in hand, and then win enough games to finish in the top four. I also want us to beat Man City in the cup, and I then want us to win the final.
It doesn’t change what I think should happen in the summer, or our need to shake things up in a significant way, but for all that I want to see my football team win games. Am I especially confident that we can finish the season strongly given our current form and the general atmosphere of chaos around the place? No. But I still want us to.
Every time an Arsenal team goes out onto the pitch I want them to play well and to pummel the opposition. And if they can’t do that, I want them to get a spawny, lucky win with a deflected goal or a penalty that’s so controversial you almost feel sorry for the opposition fans. I said almost, I’m not some kind of chump.
In that sense you wonder if the Interlull has not actually come at a bad time. Look at Alexis Sanchez Tweeting from the sunshine of South America yesterday, look how happy he is. He’s basically in his underpants in the warm weather and he’s got a football. Add a couple of dogs to the mix and he’s got everything he wants. That and the sweet, sweet boost of Vitamin D.
Others will play for their countries and get a bit of a break from the madness that surrounds the place at the moment, giving them the chance to refocus before returning to try and make things right.
“We’ll give everything until the end,” said Nacho Monreal. Hector Bellerin, in an interview in which he was asked 900 questions about coming back to Barcelona, insisted, “When we come back [from the Interull], we have two very important months, and we have to move ahead,” while Shkodran Mustafi says, “As a team we can use this international break to refresh and then start again when we go back.”
Sometimes a change of scenery and everything else can help, because as much as we pin everything on the manager, the players have some responsibility too. We know that they’re capable of much more, and if they have any pride in themselves and the shirt, we need to see a response in these final couple of months.
As I said, it’s going to be tough and I’m not particularly confident. I look at the fixture list and it’s arse-clenchingly difficult in places, but what do we do, just throw in the towel? No. Someone else might throw it in for us at some point further down the line, but we can’t just give up because we’re going through a bad run right now.
Meanwhile, the futures of Sanchez and Ozil are, unsurprisingly, no clearer with the manager saying further discussions about new deals are now on hold until the summer:
At the moment we have not got an agreement. We have decided to focus on the end of the season and talk about it in the summer, it is the same situation with Ozil because once you don’t find an agreement and it [the negotiation] lasts, it is not good so it is better you get it out and sit down in the summer.
There’s news that will shock all of us to our core.
Big offers have been made, nothing has been signed, and that is not a good sign. Obviously it’s something we’ll have to deal with during the summer but at least putting it to one side in this way there’s some measure of clarity. It means there’s no point asking question after question about it, and while it doesn’t take much away from the overall air of uncertainty, at least they (and we) can focus on the football without another distraction.
Finally for today, in his final ever game for Germany, Lukas Podolski unleashed a Lukas Podolski special to score the goal to beat England 1-0 in a friendly in Dortmund last night. A nice way to bow out of international football after 130 games. Yes, he was a fairly limited player, but man when he caught the ball right he could score some impressive looking goals, and that was a cracker.
Right, Tim Stillman will be here later with his column. We’ll have news throughout the day on Arseblog News and I’ll be back tomorrow with an Arsecast.
Until then, take it easy.