Happy New Year folks.
Here we are. The defining period of our season. Le boss’ final chance to amend the situation that has plagued our season. Ill preparation. He will know that this January could make or break his situation at the club as well as the club itself. We already seem to be in a battle for 4th (I still hold a glimmer of hope at the league title purely if we have a good January – but I’m a dreamer…). Getting 4th won’t be quite as straight forward (nothing ever is with Arsenal to be fair!) as it has been a season in which the outside contenders really have a chance to ‘contend’. Southampton are a realistic threat, as well as Sp*rs as are Liverpool to 4th. The correct January signings will cement 4th in my book and potentially catapult us into a title challenge (taking Liverpools example last season – it is still a possibility). If the correct signings do not come in, whether we finish fourth or not I can’t see the majority of the fans keeping the faith. And that’s what it would take for real change – a turning of the majority. At the moment my guesstimate is that there’s a 60-40 split in favour of Arsene however if we’re fourth again and miss out on a trophy then more are likely to turn. It’s once there’s a 60-40 split in favour of new management, where change is likely to occur.
We all know the performance at Southampton was dismal. The same narrative once again where we play ok and then stupid mistakes (ones that keep recurring) cost us. The worrying part is not the mistakes as they happen to every team, some more than others but they happen, the real worry is our reaction to those mistakes. We went 1-0 down with well over 30 minutes to play and reacted as if they scored an away goal with 2 minutes remaining in a Champions League semi final. It’s as if defeat was the impending doom of our season and that we had too little time to do anything about it. This is the worry. It’s happened on a number of occasions with us. Now every team will feel a little sorry for themselves after conceding, however this is when we need a leader to drag us into shape and demand a reaction. Due to Per’s lack of form and confidence at the moment this doesn’t seem to be happening from him. We all know it, that midfield monster that we’re lacking could be the one to do this for us. It makes it all the more a massive January for us.
Thankfully the FA cup gave us a fairly easy ride in that we could have sewn the game up by half time with better finishing. A 2-0 win where the keeper didn’t have to do too much is always welcome. Especially one where Per got a goal which will aid his confidence, Lord knows we need him to be on point until some cover arrives. Brighton away isn’t too bad a draw, even though a home tie would have been much more welcome. It’s a game we should win and then keep our fingers crossed for another good draw.
Lastly I want to talk about Scz & Joel Campbell. First the Scz. The whole smoking in the changing room (if true – which by reports it looks like it is) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of. He is normally so self confident even after he makes a clanger (of which there have been a fair few). But to completely disrespect the profession he’s in within the confines of a changing room straight after a game is no way for a footballer to behave. People have read and found out about it in some way and it gives a pretty poor message to any young aspiring footballers. The guy needs to be reminded that he is not yet the finished article and also that the finished articles of the game do not behave in such a way. Ospina has to play vs Stoke for me just because the behaviour shows nothing but arrogance. Ospina is a good keeper and his distribution looked far less panicked than the Scz which might actually help us against the Orc army.
Moving onto Joel Campbell. His performance bs Hull was quite frankly outstanding. I think he should have scored one and could have made slightly better decisions in the final third but that will come with time. His work rate and strength were quite brilliant to watch. With a performance like that it makes it easier to understand why Podolski has gone. I love the guy, but his ‘tracking back’ or lack of left us too exposed on the left. Campbell displayed a real diligence in his work and made Bruce’s team think twice about approaching his side. Any player that can cause that kind of indecision in a team that lacks real quality gives his team an extra yard or two and can make a real difference to the pattern of play. I really hope to see more of him from here on in.
Time for us to get our season back on track.
Have a good week people.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.