Don’t Get Carried Away ……Again! by Dan Smith
So as I wrote before Christmas, Arsenal just needed that one win to kickstart their confidence. In what could turn out to be a crucial moment in Mikel Arteta’s managerial career, he decided to give up on the senior players who had been letting him down and put his faith in youth.
Saka has been in the first team for a year now, but the bigger calls were the introductions of Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe.
If the squad were doing better than 14th at the time, Martinelli may have not been rushed back. Meanwhile, Smith Rowe in the last week has started more Premiership games than he has since making his debut in the League Cup two years ago.
Injuries meant the midfielder had only been coming off the bench in the cup competitions so asking him to suddenly start on Boxing day was some call. He was simply being picked based on an impressive loan spell at Huddersfield and the fact that outside of Ozil, he’s the only obvious creative midfielder we have.
In our three last fixtures, Saka has scored twice and assisted one while Smith Rowe has recorded two assists.
We had reached a point where we had to cling to any momentum we could find and build off it.
In 45 minutes against Man City, Martinelli showed leadership that his more experienced teammates had been lacking. When we talk about bravery, it’s not just about fighting. It’s about who has the personality to demand the ball? Who is not afraid to try and make something?
Why I’m harsh on a Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah has nothing to do with their quality on the ball, it’s that they have had enough chances to show they have the character to belong at this level.
In the space of 6 days a Smith Rowe and Martinelli have showed more self-belief than a Willock or Reiss Nelson in three years.
It’s ironic to me that the same fans who were predicting a title challenge in the summer were arguing with me in December when I suggested we were too good to go down. The fickleness within our fanbase worries me.
When we won the FA Cup last year some gooners were calling me negative for questioning claims of our manager being better then Arsene Wenger, and doubting our ability to win the Champions League within three years. Those same readers are then the first to talk about relegation. Of course the reality is somewhere in the middle.
Of course there are three teams worse than us in the League, yet we do not have enough ambition to be anything other than at best a top 4/6 side who might win the odd cup.
Those fans ruin football for me, they are too reactionary, take things too seriously and go way too deep. My fear is that they will now put too much pressure on the three youngsters I have written about. Two are teenagers, the other is 20, putting massive weight on young shoulders would be counter productive. if they are going to be the face of the ‘new Arsenal’ then they need time to develop and make mistakes. Expecting them to be the answer to all our problems won’t do anyone any favours.
It would also be music to Stan Kroenke’s ears. A month ago he was under pressure to spend serious money in January. Three wins later fans seem to be accepting having to offload talent just to raise funds. That’s the best our Billionaire Owner can manage when we are 11th after 17 games?
Would a Man United or Chelsea struggle to buy a player from the Championship like we are reportedly doing?
Don’t lose sight of these things based on three performances. Winning at two teams in the bottom 4 should be the expectation, the minimal requirement.
Stan Kroenke got away with doing the bare minimum in the summer because some fans got carried away by a few results.
Don’t let him get away with it this month…