It’s Friday, it’s my last day at work before I skidaddle off to Singapore and Thailand for a bit of RnR for two weeks, and today is the day that Le Boss gets himself ready to face the baying media. The last time he was in this situation it all ended slightly with an unsavoury and un-Arsene like rounding on a journo. So I’m not sure whether the assembled coyotes will want to tear at the fresh wounds that were opened up from Bayern or simply sit back and let Arsene off for a week. I’d be surprised if it was the latter.
We already got our first snippet of information yesterday, as the official site announced that Arsene had confirmed the absence of Sagna for this weekend as well as Gibbs. Thankfully, the acquisition of Monreal is working so far and he’ll slot comfortably into left back, plus with the amount of games Jenkinson has played this season he’s become more acclimatised to first team football so I doubt there will be many of us that will be too nervous. Certainly not as nervous as a sight of Squillaci trotting out onto the field of play come Saturday 3pm. I thought Jenkinson did well against Sunderland when he played last and, two silly fouls aside, again looked the part. We know what we’re going to get with him and so I hope he puts on another stellar display against the Villains.
I find Jenkinson’s build quite interesting for a full back. He looks like a big unit that should be more adept at a central defensive position, but his ability to get down the by-line and get very good balls into the box is something that we should certainly be utilising more often than we do. It’s for his crossing ability that I hope Arsene opts for Giroud at the weekend. The Frenchman offers more of a physical presence than Walcott and is most certainly better in the air. But more on the match itself tomorrow methinks.
Right now, the biggest topic of debate is the future of Arsene, or lack of if you read some of the reports in the press. I’ve already said my piece about Arsene, and if you read my random thoughts around Arsenal regularly, you’ll know that I am a bit sad because I am coming to terms with the increasing likelihood that there could be a parting of ways. But Arsenal is Arsenal and whatever happens I’ll support the team and those representing it until the end. That is the case for this Saturday and every game that they play. And as fans I think that is the only way to be. Talk of wanting the team to lose is pathetic in my opinion. Support your team or go home. Or become a watcher of non-team sports, for this type of game is not for you.
I’ve found a lot of the recent interviews by players a little worrying as well. Last season, when there were similar mumblings from fans and the media trolls trying to dig up some content to sell their chip paper, I don’t remember seeing many of the players coming out in defence of Le Boss. I am beginning to wonder if that is because the players themselves just thought the noises about Arsene’s time being up last season were complete rubbish and so ignored it. It was a minor inconvenience from people that didn’t really see the bigger picture and so the players treated comments about Arsene ‘losing it’ were just treated with a shrug of the shoulders and a ‘what do they know?’. However, already since the Bayern game we have seen Jack, Theo and Thomas Vermaelen come out in defence of the manager. To me it is the clearest indication that the manager is under more pressure now than he’s ever been in his career. Otherwise, why would the players take so much time and give so much media profile by talking about backing the manager?
It’s up to him and his players to prove the doubters wrong, and I hope they do, but I hope that the players don’t start mentally planning for the next boss. I know it’s an extreme statement to make, but the last time I saw players coming out in defence of the manager so much was for Roberto Di Matteo and a host of other Chelski managers they’ve had down the years. I know it is pointless comparing us with the classless chavs, but I just can’t help but see these similarities – much as I don’t want to. The Chelski players are notorious for their ability to oust a manager, and with that comes the mentality of planning for a new one. I seriously doubt any of the Arsenal players want to oust Arsene, but who knows if some of them are wondering what life at Arsenal would be like without him?
Of course, all of these negative noises from various sections of the media, roared on by the bitterness of Stewart Robson and the king of the trollers Adrian Durham from TalkSport, could also serve a more beneficial purpose for the cause. It could create a siege mentality amongst the fans, players and other stakeholders at Arsenal. It could see us all collectively batten down the hatches, surround the king and mount a hell of an offensive before the end of the season. The next few Premier League games will tell that. We have Villa at home and the Spuds away. A proper siege mentality with success would see us get maximum points from those games, although to be fair, if you offered me a win on Saturday followed by a draw at Shite Hart Lane the week after I’d probably take it right now.
Theo, Jack and Thomas are right: it is the players that must now take the responsibility for delivering Champions League football next season. They have to stand up and be counted. They need to get angry. They need to show the fight we saw us get to reach third spot last season. Starting with Aston Villa this weekend.
And we need to give them all the help we can.