Arsenal need a win.
Mikel Arteta needs a win.
How about making life less complicated and, you know, going out and winning a football game?
Pre-game analysis is more interesting when you’re trying to figure out the subtleties of the sport. There’s nothing more to this evening’s game than taking three points, scoring at least one goal, and not being absolute twats.
The only angle I’m vaguely interested in is if Arteta will stick with the ODBs (Old Disappointing Bastards) in the hope that they might spark into life, or if he’ll change things up a bit and throw in some of the young talent. There’s part of me that hopes he’ll do exactly that, more because I’m utterly fed up with the former than anything else, and I do realise that the ‘Play the kids’ thing is an idea that sounds good for exactly that reason.
In reality, you can’t just axe everyone over the age of 30, like some kind of footballing Logan’s Run. You have to find the right blend of youth and experience, which means he’s not going to completely tear it up, but you can still change a few things here and there. Demonstrate to some of the highly paid, under-performing wastrels that deserve a solid thrashing and possibly rotten fruit thrown at them in the town square that there are consequences.
Play badly, get dropped.
At the same time, as much as I have issues with certain individuals who I think are part of the reason why we’ve been playing so poorly, we can’t ignore the fact there’s a collective problem too. That front three of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Willian might contain the full range of flavours – from bacon sandwich to licking the top of a battery to dried puke – but regardless of that, they are capable of better than we’ve seen in the recent past.
Even if I’d desperately like someone to lock Willian in his car, I can acknowledge that he should be less shit than this. Arteta’s job is to make him, and everyone else, look less shit. That’s for starters. There’s obviously much more for him to do than that, but in terms of today’s game, that’d be a decent jumping off point.
Personally, I’d like to see Reiss Nelson given a go, assuming he’s fit. He wasn’t available for the midweek game after a clash of heads in training, but if he is, let’s just show that even if an individual’s poor performances are in some way because of the team’s collective malaise, the consequence is that you lose your place to a hungry young player. Sit down Willian, step up Reiss. Gimme some of that sweet, sweet Balogun on the bench.
Give me a midfield of Mohamed Elneny and Dani Ceballos. And maybe Joe Willock. Or perhaps Emile Smith Rowe, although I think we have to manage his fitness carefully after some difficult injury issues of late. I suppose we will see Granit Xhaka, but I’d like it if we didn’t. I know we’re not exactly replete with options, and that Burnley are big bastardly team of big bastards and some experience is important, but if the answer to our problems is to just send the same guys out over and over and over again until they get it right, our problems are bigger than we think.
Today’s visitors sit in the bottom three, having won just once, scoring a meagre five goals in their ten games thus far. Ordinarily the kind of team you’d love to face. Right now, it’s the kind of team whose record worries me in that it will simply add to our own misery and create the kind of Opta stats that would make grown men cry.
“Burnley’s 97 headers on target against Arsenal is a world record.”
“Arsenal found a man with just two of their nine hundred crosses in the game against Burnley.”
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s only touch of the ball came at the kick-off”
And so on and so forth.
Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative but I can only deal with what Arsenal serve up, and in recent times it has been dismal fare. Let me very clear: I sincerely hope that changes today. I hope we play well. I hope we win. I hope we’re not stupid. I hope that there’s something different about us today in terms of personnel and performance. From there, my world view will become brighter and more cheerful, and I suspect yours will too.
Just win, and stop being so persistently annoying. We’re a 90 minute itch that you just can’t scratch. Get out the knitting needles.
Over to you, you ODBs.