There’s a Mikel Arteta press conference later. He’ll talk of ‘doing our jobs’ and focus and all that stuff, which is fine, but he’s got some serious thinking to do about his team for tomorrow night. Further discussion of that can wait until tomorrow’s blog and the preview podcast on Patreon a bit later this afternoon.
In some ways, I wonder if the fact we play again midweek isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the one hand it means a bad result doesn’t fester all week, but on the other there’s the potential for our misery to be compounded. Still, trying very hard to look at things with a glass half-full attitude, this is the kind of week and these are the kind of fixtures that could go a long way to changing the mood for the better.
The glass half-empty part of my brain is screaming at me now though. Quite loudly indeed.
Elsewhere, I saw plenty of conversation about comments made by Alexandre Lacazette, given to Canal+ over the weekend. He spoke about his future, and a possible return to Lyon, saying:
“I am in discussion with a lot of clubs. I want to play in Europe, it’s been a long time since I played in the Champions League too, so I miss it. Nothing is impossible in life but it’s a little more complicated [for Lyon without Europe].”
Leaving aside the fact it’s quite funny to think that a striker who can no longer score is looking for a Champions League level club to sign him, I don’t think there’s much wrong with this. I don’t think it’s very likely, but you can’t fault the ambition, I guess.
The issue of timing seems to have upset some people, but these things don’t just happen in an instant. This interview was probably set-up and scheduled some weeks in advance, and I doubt he or anyone else was expecting it to drop in a run of three successive defeats for Arsenal to teams they shouldn’t lose three successive games to. At that point, I don’t think he – if he even felt this way – had the control to say ‘You know what lads? This might not be the best time to air this.’
As for a player heading towards the end of his contract doing an interview to raise his profile and let people know he’s available, it happens all the time. It’s just part and parcel of football. I’ve been critical of Lacazette this season for his performances which I think have been well below par, as evidenced by his goal return, but I’m struggling to get upset by this.
It’s bog-standard media guff which also more or less copper-fastens his departure this summer, and on that basis those who have been displeased by his contribution this season should be relatively pleased about that aspect of it. As I said, if this had come after three Arsenal wins, nobody would really care that much, and I don’t believe he’s done this to rub salt in our wounds or anything like that. It’s just a case of unfortunate timing. A bit like Lacazette when he tries to kick the ball in the big open net thing held up by posts.
Meanwhile, David Ornstein reports the club have hired outside consultants to conduct a ‘top-to-bottom cultural review of the club’. From what I understand, this is much more about Arsenal as work-place in general than specific to the football team, and on a general level, wanting to make sure people are happy and content in their jobs isn’t a bad thing by any means.
It’s just that you have to wonder about the need for something like this in the first place. The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, Arsenal are not alone in that by any means, but certain decisions and the way they have been made have clearly had an impact on staff morale. Within weeks, there were pay-cuts being administered, well before anyone else did it and I while I’m unsure how it all played out at other clubs, I don’t remember too many of them implementing similar. The firing of over 50 people always felt at odds with what was happening at the time, and when you cack-handedly get rid of a beloved dinosaur, you have to ask questions about how those decisions were reached and, importantly, communicated.
Arsenal do a lot of fantastic work, and perhaps this is tacit admission and acknowledgement that things haven’t been up to scratch. So on that basis admitting there’s an issue is the only way you get to fix it. Maybe these consultants will rediscover ‘The Arsenal Way’, as this project is apparently titled, but ultimately it should be evident that basic common sense, treating people with decency and fairness, and communicating better with them would go a long way to sorting things like this out, and you shouldn’t need to pay some outside agency to tell you that.
Right, let’s leave it there for this morning. If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, the Arsecast Extra is below, discussing the Southampton game, the January transfer window, and lots more. All the links you need are there, and you can join us later on Patreon for a Chelsea preview podcast.