All is quiet this morning in the world of Arsenal. Friday’s often are if we have not played on the Thursday.
We had the pre-game conferences yesterday and the game against Huddersfield tomorrow. Friday is the very average meat in the sandwich.
Unai Emery spoke yesterday about a lose of confidence in recent weeks amongst the team.
“We started very well away, changing our mentality, but now we need to recover this confidence, to recover this performance and the next opportunity is Saturday against Huddersfield.”
Momentum is such an important factor in sport.
We saw that at Liverpool who looked to go 7 points clear of Manchester City in second before slipping up against Leicester City. This led to further dropped points against West Ham. 2 draws in a row, a drop in momentum and suddenly Manchester City are top.
It will be interesting to see if the confidence that was brimming at Liverpool, and driving them towards the title reverses and they continue to wobble.
You can also see the confidence ebb away in the England cricket team over in the West Indies.
Prior to the first test, most were expecting a 3-0 white wash. 77 all out in their first innings led to an 381 run defeat and then a 10 wicket defeat in the 2nd innings.
The 3rd best test team in the world are on the verge of being white washed against the 8th best team, this after they beat Sri Lanka 3-0 at the back end of last year.
The momentum has gone, and England players look completely bereft of confidence.
During the 22-game unbeaten run, the momentum was with Arsenal. We were winning games we perhaps should not have done. We had the confidence that even when not winning at half time, we would come back and win the game. As Emery states, we need to recover that confidence and put together a run to drive us into 4th for the end of the season.
A few people have got arrogant over tomorrows games, calling is an “easy 3 points”.
Huddersfield at bottom of the league with just 11 points. Arsenal should win the game, but a victory should never be taken for granted. Unai Emery is certainly not seeing it as an easy 3 points.
“These matches are difficult and they are playing for the possibility to continue in the Premier League.
“Their last results have not been good but with their new coach [Jan Siewert], I am sure that they are going to play with a big ambition and a big performance on Saturday.
“I think they have good players with a good organisation. They push a lot and I know it will be difficult. For us as well, away games have been a challenge and each match is a new challenge.”
Arsenal’s away form is much improved this season.
Last year we looked fearful when playing away. Zero confidence. Zero momentum. We just kept losing. Whilst it has improved this season, we are certainly not in a position to think that 3 points away from home will be easy.
4 wins away from is the same as we achieved in the whole of last season, and we currently have just 1 point less than we did from the 19 away games last season (16). However this is still not good enough.
We have the 9th best away form yet the 3rd best home form. It is clearly holding us back. Based on home form, we are just 4 points behind Manchester City, level with Liverpool. The poor away form puts us out of the title race – just like last season when we had the 2nd best home form.
“Maybe both,” Emery replied when asked if poor away form was due to tactical or mental reasons.
“It can be… at the end, the reason we didn’t take the same balance as we have shown at home.
“I spoke with the players [and told them] we need to think this match is very important for us and every player needs to be ready, be focused and be thinking we need to win this match.
“Imposing ourselves from the first minute, and throughout the 90 minutes, our capacity against them – but first is the mentality.
“For us, tactically, is the second issue. The first is to think we need to win and after it’s how we can win this match – (in terms of) preparing tactically and individually.”
If Arsenal are to make the top 4, I would imagine we need to win at least 4 of our last 7 away games starting with Huddersfield tomorrow.
Plenty of transfer speculation floating about today as well – usually the case on a slow news day.
A deal for Adrien Rabiot has been mentioned again.
He had supposedly agreed a deal to join Barcelona on a free transfer, but they have since spent big on Frankie De Jong. He would be a very good accusation for Arsenal, reinforcing the midfield and giving the club 4 fantastic options in the 3 man midfield (alongside Lucas Torriera, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi).
Christopher Nkunku is another mentioned again. It would not be a surprise if that deal is done in the summer. He would then make it 5 options for 3 spots, and would probably be the end of Mohamed Elneny.
It has also been reported today that “Arsenal lead the race for Alex Grimaldo“, a left back at Benfica.
I know nothing about him, and I imagine he will be one of about 100 left backs we will be linked to over the next 6 months.