I watched a bit of the Carabao Cup final, but only because I was cooking and I had it on while I was doing that. I can honestly say I couldn’t really give a fish’s tit about the Carabao Cup, especially this year, and clearly there were two teams who I hoped would both lose.
Man Utd, it’s historical. All that rivalry down the years. You don’t forget it just because it’s not there any more. I never want them to win. With Newcastle, it’s different. It’s about who they are now and what they might become. A club owned by a nation state. The very essence of sportswashing. Not for me, Clive. No thanks.
Anyway, it went 2-0 and then I turned it off. I definitely don’t need to see any celebrations. There’s just something wrong with the idea of Harry Maguire with a trophy. It’s like seeing a toddler with a machine gun, or something.
Nobody needs that.
There was something I meant to mention yesterday in my review of the 1-0 win over Leicester. In the first half, we lost possession high up the pitch and there was a chance for them to break forward.
At one point they had 4 on 3.
But by the time they get to the edge of our box …
That moment when all the red shirts flood back into view on the screen is really something, and it tells you plenty about this team and their desire to work for each other. How many times in the past have you seen players amble back in situations like this? I’ll answer that for you: too many times.
That could literally be the difference between three points and one on a day like this. I know Leicester were abject on the day and created very little, but they were also prevented from creating chances by this kind of defensive commitment. All 10 outfield players getting back to deny them space, Leicester had no choice but to go backwards, we got organised and into shape.
We didn’t get to see Mikel Arteta after this moment, but I would bet there was a lot of vigorous clapping on the sideline.
As the season progresses, we understand that there is something extra to this team. We’ve seen it in performances and results, obviously. You don’t get to where we are at this point of a campaign by accident. When you step back though, it’s just a continuation of what the manager said he was going to do when he first arrived at the club. He talked about creating a culture like this, with hard work and from hard work you get rewards.
“We have to create the right culture around the club that’s going to make a good living out of the players, create an environment where everybody respects each other, a humility and people have to be accountable for what we want to achieve.”
Players who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get on board with that are gone. Some of those decisions were painful to make, I’m sure, and subjected to plenty of scrutiny, but they were made with the conviction that there was no other way. I don’t think he’d want vindication, he just wanted to create a group that will do everything within their power to win football matches.
Running back towards your own goal is the worst kind of running there is in a game, but we got 100% commitment from the players on Saturday, and that’s worth mentioning. It sounds like it should be the default, but we’ve all watched enough football to know it’s not always the case.
Even something like the decision to hand the captain’s armband for this game to Oleksandr Zinchenko is illustrative of the kind of characters we have in the squad. The idea, to show support for Ukraine, was Martin Odegaard’s who explained:
It was a nice thing to do to show him the support. It’s been a year now, too long, it’s a very difficult situation for him I know and very emotional.
When he’s on the pitch he’s always 100 percent focused and always there. He doesn’t let him affect him but of course it’s not an easy thing for him, his family and everyone there. We just wanted to show him the support.
It’s a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but thoughtful. Zinchenko has become a big character in our squad in a small amount of time, and things like this tell you that the Arsenal dressing room is a good place to be right now. Long may it last.
Right, that’s it for now. James and I will be recording an Arsecast Extra for you later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.
We should have the podcast for you around lunchtime. Until then.