Happy New Year to all Gooners by Michael Thomas
It has certainly not been a great start to the New Year for Arsenal, but I don’t think we should worry just yet. The team are on a good run, an unlucky defeat to Manchester City followed by a really poor performance away to Nottingham Forest. Hopefully they can bounce back against Liverpool in the Caraboa cup & the NLD this weekend!
The club really can’t afford to get knocked out of the cup and lose the NLD. I would say the league game is the priority, but I am sure the fans and the players would like to get into a Final and compete for some silverware this season. Finishing in the top 6 is a priority but we have a real chance at top 4 if we can remain consistent and bring in a few players this month.
The team that started against Forest cannot start against Liverpool or we will have little chance. Hopefully Xhaka will be back along with ESR, Gabriel and Lacazette. Liverpool are obviously missing Mane & Salah but they do have firepower still, so Arsenal will have to be on their A game to get something from it.
As for bringing in players, January is always a difficult time to do deals as teams are still competing in their respective competitions and don’t want to weaken their squad, which is unfortunately what Arsenal have done. Arsenal must get 1-2 CM’s in within the next week. If they have ambitions to play Champions League football next season, they must have a strong second half of the season and strengthen the squad.
There is much talk of Vlahovic or Isak as possible arrivals, but if I had to choose one it would be Vlahovic! He looks like a real player. He has all the physical attributes to play in the premier league, he fits the club’s young recruitment policy and his goalscoring consistency edges Isak out for me.
Arteta can’t afford to just muddle through until everyone returns from AFCON, so I think Arsenal is definitely out for a player in both midfield and striker positions in January. Whether that be loan deals or permanent deals I don’t know, but I am sure we will see incomings.
Whatever happens against Liverpool, Arsenal must go all out for a win in the North London Derby. Having the attitude to play for a draw will be the start of the end. The team must go for the win and try to create some space from the other top 4 challengers. I am confident if they perform anywhere near their best, they’ll win the game.
After all the drama around Aubameyang over the last month or so, it’s not great to hear that he has arrived at AFCON having caught Covid on the way, especially the nature in how he was said to have caught it. He is an experienced player and shouldn’t be making these mistakes anymore.
Football can change very quickly and he could well come back from AFCON and provide some goals to push the club to their targets this season, but I would be surprised to see Arteta bring him back into the group however.
In the race for the Top Four, Arsenal have no FA or European games so the players should get a lot of time to pick up tactics on the training ground, but I know some players get into the rhythm of playing every 3 days and play better. In all honesty that is where Arsenal want to be, so they will have to get used to that. But yes, I think playing once a week puts them in the best position to qualify for the Champions League.
I think top 6 was what would have been set out at the start of the season but they find themselves in the battle for top 4 and must push all the way to get back into Europe’s elite competition. The Arsenal project is a process with a lot of young players that will need good coaching and this is what Arteta is giving them, so I hope he gets the time and investment needed.
Everything’s very confusing with Covid disrupting many League games, and the virus makes consistency within a team even harder. You’re not sure what players you will be able to field, game in game out, and players are missing importants games. That being said, all the teams are facing the same crisis and we can only hope everyone involved is safe and we can continue to watch good football.