TOP 4 CUP FINAL, 1/14 – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

“The oldest player in the game against City was Laca but a lot of players are 22, 23, 24. We have time to improve and we are going to do that. One hundred per cent — we will be one of the best teams in the world.”

Gabriel Martinelli, The Athletic.

The Brazilian dropped a wide-ranging interview which, for me, said everything positive about creating a project based around elite young talent.

Hunger, drive, raw ambition… and absolute dedication to finding the next level.

‘We know we need to give confidence to the manager to put us on the pitch. If we do well, we know we will play. So it is up to us as players what happens. So it is up to us as players what happens. We are a family. We do not just see it as we go to work and we play some football. It is more than that for us. We are all getting stronger together, on and off the pitch.’

You can’t knock a line like that. There’s a section of fans that want to cry for players that don’t make the pitch, but when one of the better players in the side, one that was dropped for a long time, says that it’s all about how you’re doing in training, then you know that everyone is feeling that the club is moving into a more meritocracic direction. That’s why it’s important to move on players that are carrying their weight, even if those players are massive names. It sets the tone for a club that operates the right way and it stops heads dropping.

The other insight I took from he interview is that he believes in the players that work with him. He had high praise for all the names he’s doing great work with. There’s a belief that this squad can go right to the top and the players are bought into the vision.

That vision has a big challenge tomorrow night. Arsenal take on Wolves in a 6 pointer for the top 4. Wolves are impressive, they can do damage, they beat Spurs and Leicester after playing Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. The team can’t afford complacency at this point in the season, nor can the fans, we need to carry the side.

Taking 3 points will simply be one win chalked off of the 9 we need. We really do need to go one game at a time. But it will be very nice to have a bit of positive momentum heading into another extended break due to cup games we’re not a part of.

Arteta was pushed on his contract and he looked a little sheepish, his response was, ‘I just want to build a winning team and I’m really happy here’, which is the right thing to say. If the season continues in the fashion it has done, I don’t think there’s much doubt he’ll be offered a longer deal on better terms. There aren’t many hard data points you can look at since December 2020 that would suggest he doesn’t deserve that. Even 8th place, which isn’t out level, was 6 points shy of the European champions. The club has been transformed in his vision, the players are all his, the young kids have put pen to paper for his vision of where they are going. If he can get top 4 this season, it’ll only add to the reasons he’s the right guy for the job.

It’s quite amusing how all the old reasons to complain about where Arsenal are at are rapidly disintegrating. Someone came onto the blog last night and said we were a defensive team… hard to compute that against the side that has the 3rd most shots p/g, the 4th most on target in the league without a primo striker. It’s also worth noting that since Auba left, we are joint 3rd for goals scored, one behind Liverpool with a game in hand.

You can’t really knock the position in the table or complain that the project is taking too long. We’re in the 2nd full season of Arteta, he’s ripped down the entire squad, built it back up with young, talented hungry players the fans love. Right now, we’re 4 points off 4th with 3 games in hand. Someone asked me on Youtube ‘WHEN WILL THE PROCESS BEAR FRUIT’… errr, right now my friend, look at what is happening.

Then you have the fans that keep whining about the football. We can all have opinions on what we’re seeing, but we live in a world where fans call Tuchel boring and defensive, and say Pep G football is dull. The litmus test for whether the football resonates comes in the ground. Are the fans making loads of noise? Yes, they are, which means they are enjoying themselves. If you are seeing goals, loads of shots, lovely interchanges of talented young players that are connected, what are you missing from Arsenal?

I also think we’re starting to see some of the online toxicity drown out. This usually happens when we’re on a semi decent run, but I’ve never seen so many people talk up a new deal for Arteta and have those messages go viral. I was quite shocked to see majority of Arsenal fans round on anyone slobbering over that Auba hattrick. I do love that Arsenal fans are in love with all the players and more importantly… there’s a bit of jealousy from other clubs seems about our stars… Ben White to get at people in particular. It’s no longer edgy or cool to say you think the project at Arsenal is shit, because that sort of view makes you sound like you don’t know what you are talking about.

All of the good will can quickly dissipate after a bad result, but overall, we’re moving towards being a club that is quite steady.

That’s on Arteta. As I said from the start, he’s a one of the best young coaches in the world, now he’s starting to show that he is developing into one of the hottest young managers in the world. There really aren’t many sub 40 managers that have turned around a club as big as Arsenal in such a short space of time. Just remember, Don Unai, who squeezed a draw out of Juventus in the last 16 of the CL last night failed miserably at the job.

I’m gonna look very silly if we get pumped 3-0 at the game tomorrow… a game I will be in attendance for… with Johnny and Matt. Can you believe it’ll be the first time I’ve seen Johnny IRL? Do I hug or fist bump? What is the protocol for meeting men of the internet in 2022?

Right, that’s me done, I’m flying to London tonight, see you in the comments. x

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