Morning. A quick Saturday round-up for you.
Mikel Arteta has been speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Sunday’s game against Wolves, and he reckons it’s going to take a few more transfer windows before Arsenal can realistically think about challenging for the Premier League title.
“That will take a few windows at least to do that. To establish yourself to compete at the level of certain clubs in this league, which is nearly 100 points, it takes time.”
Is there anybody out there who could genuinely disagree with that? It took Jurgen Klopp time at Liverpool. It even took Pep Guardiola a bit of time at Man City, so why would it be any different for Mikel Arteta – or indeed any manager who was in charge of this club? That Arsenal are not close to challenging for the title is stating the very, very obvious. If you come into any organisation that has been poorly run, with basically no strategy and certainly no cohesive recruitment policy, it will take you a while to get things back on track and then start to make the necessary improvements. It’s common sense.
However, football is almost a unique industry in that people can see there’s a medium to long-term job at hand, but still be demanding in the short-term. You can be relatively calm and patient, understanding that there’s a lot to do and a big mess to clean up, but still find yourself furious because because we’ve been handed our arses at home by Aston Villa. That’s football, and Arteta is aware of that.
“In football, time is very precious and people are very impatient. But if you don’t respect the processes and you ask certain people to do certain things when the foundations are not there, it’s a really dangerous thing to do.
“We have to prepare for difficult moments. We knew that right from the start because it’s not something that has happened in the last year – it has happened many years in the past.”
I’m sure it’s part of the challenge he knew he was undertaking, and as I wrote earlier this week, if we’re really going to try and build something, we have to try and find some stability. Make an actual plan about transfers, what kind of players we want, when we’re going to bring them in, and how we’re going to put those pieces together. The current squad is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster, put together by different managers/head-coaches and executives of dubious quality.
I think the Nicolas Pepe deal sums up our approach perfectly. At the time Unai Emery wanted Wilfried Zaha, a Premier League ready, right-footed winger who plays on the left. Instead, we brought in a non-Premier League ready, left-footed winger who plays on the right. This isn’t to be critical of Pepe (and I think everyone knows at this stage there were other factors at play when it comes to our decision making there), or to defend Emery, but your head coach wants one thing and you give him the opposite. That’s just no way to run things.
January is not far away now, we just have to navigate through ten games between now and the opening of the transfer window. Whether we do anything at all remains to be seen. Your guess is as good as mine, but we should be trying to bring in a creative midfielder. I see links with Christian Eriksen doing the rounds, but the language of that is interesting. He’s been ‘offered to Arsenal’, which sounds very much like an agent trying to make something happen from his side and his client’s side rather than something borne out of genuine interest from ours.
Also, a 28 year old former Sp*rs player (even if he’s one of the least offensive of that ilk) to play alongside a 32 year old former Chelsea player. Not for me, Clive, unless the plan is to create a squad of players it’s impossible to love (and we have enough of our own anyway!). There are also stories about Isco, the Real Madrid man is said be of interest to us. Again, the age profile is all wrong. He’s 28, we can’t keep giving long contracts to players of this age because we’ll continue to end up with situations where the final years of their deals are so lucrative and comfortable we can’t shift them.
Not to mention, he’s just not productive enough. Seven appearances this season, no goals, no assists. Thirty appearances last season, three goals, two assists. Those aren’t the sort of numbers that should convince us to part with money, they’re the sort of numbers that make Real Madrid want to get him off the books. I might send Mikel Arteta an early Christmas present, because I think a ten-foot barge pole might be useful for him to not touch the likes of Eriksen and Isco.
There are rumblings again about Houssem Aouar, and that would make a lot more sense. The deal was really close in the last window, he’s a player Arteta really likes, and players of his age profile are the ones we really need to be looking at as we build this squad in the few windows I assume this manager is going to get. Our average age will come down in the summer when we say goodbye to Sokratis, Mesut Ozil, David Luiz, and Shkodran Mustafi, but the worst thing we could do is replace them with guys who are going to be of similar vintage when their own contracts are ending. It’s a cycle we have to break ourselves out of, even if the temptation is to add players who can add something ‘NOW’ to help improve results. Willian is perfectly cromulent evidence that this is not a sure-fire way to do things.
Anyway, time is important, but so too are three points and a performance against Wolves tomorrow night. For Patreon Members, we have a match preview podcast available now, can sign up for instant access to all our Patreon stuff, Discord chat, a free audio book and loads more.
Back tomorrow with a full preview of the game and all the rest. Until then, have a good Saturday.