Wednesday, April 17, 2024

No drama, Edu looks for character + Arseblog 22

Morning all.

With our next game not until Monday, I suspect this is going to be a pretty quiet week. Unless there’s some unforeseen drama, but at this stage, that’s something we could do without. We could do without that at any stage, to be fair.

This is the consequence of winning well. You talk about how good it was for the 24 hours or so afterwards, and that’s basically all there is to say. Losing, of course, usually requires more introspection, more analysis, because something has gone wrong and you need to talk about what it was and how to fix it. Opinions tend to diverge more about that stuff.

We don’t need to do that after dispatching Newcastle 4-1. We just need to lie back and think of the lovely three points, sipping our cocktails, while Eddie Howe’s assistant takes out his frustration by sending sick kids in a hospital a message about it being their last ever Christmas, or something. Yes, even in February.

One of the things that was so pleasing to me about the win on Saturday was how we made them look so meek. We know what they’re about, how they want to play with energy and aggression, and they couldn’t do it. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to, it was that we didn’t let them, and as much as scoring goals and winning games and excellent performances are markers of this team’s development, so too is that. It shows we’re maturing, which is kinda obvious given the age of most of our key players, but the ability to not just rise to the occasion, but master it augurs well.

Before the game on Saturday, Sporting Director Edu did an interview on TNT Sports, and was asked about the summer plans, and whether or not a striker was top of the list. For fairly obvious reasons, he didn’t go into much detail about that. It might well be something Arsenal are looking for, but as you head into the most crucial part of the season, you don’t publicly undermine the players you have in any way. Even if the message we’re after a goalscorer might be well received by fans, he has to think about how it would go down in the dressing room – especially in a period when we’ve scored 25 goals in our last 6 matches.

What he did expand on a little was how they assess potential signings, not just in terms of their quality, but on their character and personality too. He said:

Many times in certain conversations to recruit the players you don’t see the character of the player, or the character of the player does not fit well with what we are trying to do and then you have to move on and try to find what we’re really looking for.

If you see all the signings we’ve made since we started together, everyone is almost the same, young, energetic and passionate, and good talents with big, beautiful futures ahead of them.

Yes, there’s a balance. Supreme talent can sometimes offset some attributes you might not always want, but to my mind there’s no question there’s a through-line between how well this team has been built and how good it is now, and the kinds of people we have brought into the club. Achieving that was a difficult process, as we experienced with some of the departures and the manner of them, and I don’t think it’s quite as easy to maintain as some people think.

I’ll admit, it’s part of why I have real doubts about Ivan Toney despite the persistent links with him, and his likely availability this summer. As I said, in some cases you can, and probably should, prioritise a player’s talent over what kind of person they are, but those are quite rare – and I suspect those guys usually end up at clubs where there’s a more settled chaos, if that makes sense. Where turmoil and drama is built into the very essence of the institution, and I don’t think that’s what this particular iteration of Arsenal is, in any case.

Time will tell, of course, and there’s a lot more to do between now and May, but I’m so curious to see who our targets are this summer, and what positions. Midfield, striker, pretty obvious, but where else and who else? We’ll find out soon enough.

Finally for today, February 27th marks 22 years to the day since I sat down at my desk in Barcelona and wrote the first blog on Arseblog. To say it’s been a journey is something of an understatement, so as ever, I just want to thank all of you so much for reading, listening, commenting, coming to our live shows, subscribing to our Patreon and everything else. This is a real community, which has all of you at the heart of it, and to be able to do what we do here remains a genuine privilege.

A huge thanks too to Andrew, James, Tim, Tom, Jeorge, Lewis, Phil, Jon, Jason, Hatta, and Billy who are part of the current crew, and to people like Scott, Tim B, and so many others who have contributed so much down the years. And apologies for forgetting someone because I almost certainly have (which is what happens when you do this for so long!).

Thank you 🙏❤️

Andrew

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