Monday, May 20, 2024

No feeling sorry for ourselves, ‘war chest’ cracks open, FA Cup replays

Morning all.

It’s gonna be a pretty quick blog today, I think. Between yesterday’s post, and the Arsecast Extra, I think I’ve said all that needs to be said about our exit from the Champions League, and while it remains disappointing, the reality of our season is that we can’t (as a team) allow it to get under our skin.

It’s easier said than done, of course, but with Man City and Liverpool also going out of Europe this week, it’s all about the league now. Those two clubs will have to deal with their own disappointment, but the very last thing they’re going to do is sit around and feel sorry for themselves, so if we fall into that trap, they’d be more than happy for us to do so.

Mikel Arteta will meet the press later this afternoon ahead of Saturday evening’s game against Wolves, and I suspect that will be his message too. Privately, internally, this will have hurt and will continue to do so, but publicly we have to move on as quickly as possible and put all the focus on what we have to do to put right what has been a difficult, painful week.

Those of a slightly cynical nature might find the timing of a story about summer interest in Newcastle’s Alexander Isak and Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I’d absolutely take both players. Isak was on our radar before he went to the north-east, and Olise is a genuinely exciting talent (albeit with hamstrings that worry me), and both would add a lot to this team. Maybe the fact we’ve recently appointed Palace’s ex-doctor might have given us some inside info into Olise’s injury worries, but this stuff really is for the summer.

Stan and Josh were in Munich on Wednesday night, and I’m sure Mikel Arteta will continue to have their backing, in employment terms and financial. There’s no question this team needs more, but to add players of that calibre and price from other Premier League clubs, it’s going to be very important how well we sell, so that’s the slight question mark I have – because it’s not been an area of strength in recent times.

Meanwhile, a deal to scrap FA Cup replays, bashed out between the FA and the Premier League, has been met with anger by lower league clubs – and I think they’re absolutely right. As a fan of one of the ‘big’ clubs who likely pushed for this move, I can see the potential benefits for Arsenal, but it’s not right that changes to the format, which can be such a lifeline or even a goldmine for a lower league club, can essentially be bought by the richest.

In some ways it reflects wider society, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. The Premier League clubs will make a £33m payment every year ‘to support the grassroots game’, but while that sounds like a lot on paper, for some clubs it’s less than a month’s salary for a top player. They’ve also decided that the FA Cup final will be moved and played before the end of the league season, which is more about damaging the tradition than a significant problem, but I still don’t like it.

If there is fixture congestion for the ‘top’ clubs, it’s because they want to milk the revenue of those extra European games in the new Champions League format. They complain about player fatigue, but there’s no concerted effort to push back against the ever-increasing number of international games or the prolongation of those fixtures – often well into the summer. Why not scrap the League Cup? Or play your U23s? How about giving players a proper summer break rather than haul them around the world for pre-season ‘tournaments’?

No. Why? ££££ $$$$ €€€€. But there you go. Money talks, dirty cash and all that.

Right, I’m going to switch off for a bit and hit the golf course. We’ll have a preview podcast for you over on Patreon a bit later, so please join us for that.

For now, have a good one.

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