Isn’t it easier to get up on Monday after Arsenal won? Not only that, but they won the NLD on Saturday, to make sure the only big club in the league that loses more away games to big clubs than the Gunners remains Hots***. So, for most of the weekend I, and I’m sure many of you, took the time to watch several pundits try and cover their tracks from the pre-match predictions. We also got some good news, as the team has decided to bring in a new Head of Recruitment in Sven Mislintat, formerly employed by Borussia Dortmund.
Let’s also not forget that the Europa League returns this week and, in case you’ve forgotten, the team has a chance to officially win the group.
New Head of Recruitment & Derby Win
On the eve of the Derby, like most of you likely did, I read and watched hours of previews for the match, and was certainly disheartened by what I heard and saw.
For example, this preview from ESPN, in which three of five pundits predicted a Tottenham win, with the other two calling for a draw. Then, after the match, I, again like many of you, almost laughed at the commentators trying to speak as if this was a result that many predicted.
No doubt Spuds were the favorites, after all they have been in better form this year, but before the game some pundits almost spoke as if the Gunners were perennial middle-of-the-table also-rans. I guess they’ve already forgotten about the two decades plus of dominance Arsenal have enjoyed over Hots***.
Equally funny is the lack of the use of the term “power shift” for the remainder of the weekend. I guess they’ve finally remembered about the dearth of trophies over on the dark side of north London.
Time to Take Arsenal Seriously Again?
I suppose that’s just the reactionary culture which has been bred around the game, where even one single loss is enough to send supporters into a blind panic. The media’s attitude towards the team has gone from ‘they’re just a cup team now’ to “It’s time to take Arsenal seriously again“.
Of course, let’s not pretend we don’t know what would have happened if Arsenal had lost the derby; I won’t try and dampen the mood, but it really wouldn’t have been pretty. Like planes with banners not pretty.
However, as fun as bashing the so-called “professionals” is, we can’t really ignore the underlying problems at the team. Despite enjoying an 11-match winning streak at home, the team are still level with both Liverpool and Burnley (well done them) in the table.
The title is still too much of an ask for this team, but they have shown that on any given day they can turn up and turn a team over. If Arsenal can find consistency, they will cause trepidation in their opponents.
An Eye to the Future?
We’re all familiar with signings which are described by the boss as “one for the future”. While Sven Mislintat may not be a spring chicken anymore, his appointment may signal a slow rebuilding process for the team.
After all, Arsene Wenger is getting older and won’t be around forever.
He’s consistently denied the need for a Director of Football/Sporting Director at the club, but that’s the exact type of post Mr. Mislintat seems to want. Let’s not forget the miniature transfer saga from over the summer between the Dortmund man and Bayern Munich.
Michael Reschke left his job as Technical Director in Bavaria to become Stuttgart’s Sporting Director in August, creating a vacuum in the front office. Munich then turned to Sven Mislintat, who was linked to the vacancy at Stuttgart, to fill the void at their end.
Dortmund, in the end, rejected the advance, but from the outside looking in, it seems as though our new Head of Recruitment wants a shot at being a Director of Football. Add that to Wenger’s advancing age, and it sounds like the board is preparing for life after Arsene.
Such a change wouldn’t happen over-night, so bringing him in to refresh the recruitment department makes sense.
Even if the move is (just) to revamp the scouting department, it feels like a solid idea. After all, Mislintat helped recruit Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele.
Just like the first team must prepare for the departures of Alexis and Ozil, so too does the training staff need to prepare for Wenger’s (eventual) departure.
Trip to Cologne
FC Cologne is sitting at the bottom of the Bundesliga, taking only 2 points from 12 games this year. In the Europa League, they’ve lost three games and won just once, at home against BATE Borisov.
A win will secure first place in the group for the Gunners, but a draw will most likely do the job, with second-place Red Star Belgrade sitting on 5 points with 2 left to play.
The reverse fixture wasn’t straight-forward, despite the 3-1 scoreline, and it took a tactical shift and one or two subs to turn the tide after falling behind early.
Despite the fact this is an away game, the team should still find a win, given their opponent’s poor form in all competitions. I’ll keep you up-to-date with all the news for that match.
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