Right, it’s time to get started.
That sounds like the end of a post, but it works here because it applies to Arsenal’s season. You don’t need to remind me where we are, you don’t need to be told this is a must, you don’t need to explain why the pressure is so great on today’s game – it all goes without saying.
The only interesting thing is how Mikel Arteta will try. In the run-up to this game and after the transfer window was closed, he said of his squad:
“We’re in a much better place. I’m happy with what we were able to do with the ideas we had. Now it’s about getting the most out of this team. “
If there were some mitigating factors in the first three games, particularly injuries and Covid outages, it is no longer the case. The manager basically has a full squad to choose from, the only thing missing is Granit Xhaka due to his suspension and how worried we should be about that absence is a matter of personal opinion.
Thomas Partey, Gabriel and Ben White are all returning and these are important players to have back. We know how much the Ghanaian international can bring in midfield, but we have to look at it more consistently now. He was unlucky with an injury, but Arteta realizes that he sees him as an important cog in the machine and says:
“He has to be the boss in midfield and one of the senior players who has to take responsibility and lead the young players. We missed that time.
“He’s a player with that winning culture because he’s already won a lot in the game. Having these types of players on the team is extremely important. He has a big role to play. “
Twelve months ago we spent £ 50 million on Ben White and nearly £ 30 million on Gabriel. If this money were to be spent without the plan to build a partnership that can work together, I would be very surprised. Both 23, they could be the foundation of our defense for years if they develop well but they have to start playing together. I assume that both start today.
The right-back will be an interesting choice as you can see exactly why he was signed by Takehiro Tomiyasu’s profile. He’s not a right-wing Kieran Tierney, but someone who can step into the back three without sacrificing any of the central midfielders (as Xhaka earlier fell behind), and he adds height and presence in the defensive line as well. The only question today is whether it is too early for him. He only arrived this week and didn’t have much time to train, but if your other options are the two players who have been very disappointing so far this season, the temptation to throw him in straight away must be tempting. At the end of the day he is 22, a full national player with more than 160 appearances in the senior club, not a boy who has hardly ever played.
Albert Sambi Lokonga could be Partey partner in midfield today, unless Arteta does something completely different – as discussed in the Patreon preview podcast with Lewis. It would mean he is releasing the handbrake to an extent that I’m not sure is possible given his inherent need for control, but if there was a game to really try the opponent, why not this one? It’s not like what we’ve done so far has been so great that we couldn’t possibly consider changing it.
In essence, it would mean using Thomas Partey as 6, playing Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe as 8, and then bringing Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in front of you to cause Norwich’s defense problems. It would still leave us with players like Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun as offensive options from the bench, so we wouldn’t shoot our entire load right away. I have sambi there. I would be surprised to see it, but still enjoyable.
Regardless of which team he chooses, it has to perform. It’s a Saturday game at 3pm, the frustration and pressure are palpable, but in this stadium the fans will want nothing more than to see the team win. People talk a lot about how fans can stand behind a team, but a team can also offer a lot to fans in terms of their style of play, their approach to the game, the intensity they show in key moments, etc. Ultimately, the influence is the Fans tiny compared to the eleven men on the pitch and the man on the sidelines who prepared them for the game.
I don’t know what else to say about that. Those who can absolutely divide these first three games and see this as a reset or a new beginning have my admiration. Personally, it is less the results than the performances that worried me against Brentford, Chelsea and Man City, but I sincerely hope that the team can show a little bit more to Arsenal today because what we’ve seen so far is so far from that what we’ve seen so far should be acceptable for this club.
Aside from doubts or questions about the coach, I just want this team to win games – everything else will fall into place. Let’s see a team that is full of energy, well set up and capable of playing football that can get results and be fun at the same time. I think it will take a while for us to build some momentum, but the move forward has to start today.
As always, we’ve got live blog coverage for you guys and all post-game stuff on Arseblog News.
Catch for the game later.