Match day today, on a Saturday of all things. With Europa League on pause until next year there’s a chance for the Gunners to enter a less familiar routine and likely miss James Martin Saturday Kitchen in favour of match day preparation. It’ll be rare though as the Christmas schedule eventually kicks in the players won’t know what day it is when the fixtures start coming at them thick and fast.
A trip to Goodison up next and a tough fixture regardless the situation we as a club find ourselves in. The draw with Southampton halted the run of defeats but many things still need to be improved to indicate the clubs fortunes have turned for the better. Although the draw may still have seemed unacceptable to many, going down to ten men really derailed a 2nd half performance that threatened to overturn a goal deficit and result in a long overdue victory.
It’s hoped if the message didn’t sink in after the Pepe incident or the Xhaka incident that third time is a charm. Gabriel’s red may now be top of the agenda in pre match discussion and tactics. A red card will harm our chances, unless its last minute with scores tied and their player is running in on goal and you are last man then take one for the team.
Red cards are never a great thing but read the room and the situation, petulant silly yellows can always come back to haunt you. Do not raise your hands, VAR catches everything (whether the decision made is correct or not) don’t play into opposition’s hands.
An important factor in the lead up to today’s game is the registering of a goal from open play from Aubamyang. As we have experienced over the years of following football the end of a barren run can lead to a burst (or purple patch) of goal scoring exploits. Psychology is such an important factor in football, the belief can go, the players can start to question everything they do on the pitch, performances are inhibited when the instinct goes and is replaced by doubt. The strongest of characters can be whittled down to nervous wrecks and it shows on the pitch.
Let’s hope that one goal changes everything and it is an upturn in the psyche of the players. The reactions again become second nature and in their heads the players believe they WILL get to the ball first (not they might), they WILL score past the keeper (not he might save it), they ARE better than the opponent ( not they used to be) and believe those individual battles on the field will be won EVERY time.
The U23’s had a match yesterday against Leicester which they won 2-1 with Balogun finding the net however the most significant take away from that game was the omission of Martinelli from the squad. He was given minutes in the previous reserve cup fixture against AFC Wimbledon in the EFL cup. He seems to have trained fine all week and the rumour mill is churning out the idea he may very well be a fixture on the bench today. That would be a great psychological boost to have his skill set at our disposal if needed. Of course the young Brazilian will need to be eased back to full match fitness and sharpness but what a boost to even have him on the field for 20 or so minutes if needed could give to the team.
He could provide an impact AND he would actually give the opposition something to worry about if he did enter the field. A threat which hasn’t been evident from our bench for much of the past month or so. I mean this is just an assumption about Martinelli but it would be great to see him on the bench.
We must keep the faith that things will be turned around. Three points today would be amazing, no shame in getting a draw but defeat has to be avoided at all costs especially one due to our own errors of judgement. Let’s keep turning this tide.
Come on the Gunners!