Say nothing | Arseblog … an Arsenal blog

Say nothing

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Morning all.

Mikel Arteta’s press conference yesterday had no big surprises, no shocks, a bit of team news here and there, and a determination not to be pulled into any kind of discussion regarding the other big fixture this weekend. He, of course, is focused on taking three points from Brentford, and would give no indication of his preference when it comes to a result between Liverpool and Man City, saying:

Honestly, it is nothing to do with me. I will sit down with my kids and enjoy the match.

A lot of Arteta’s media strategy appears to be designed to give headline writers, and the clickbait nature of so much football coverage these days, nothing at all to work with. It doesn’t make for great copy, it means press conferences are often quite bland – verging on dull – but you can understand his reasons. He is not the kind of guy who would Tweet something about a nice kickabout with the boys, for example, steadfastly refusing to give any opposition even the slightest thing they might use for motivation.

That said, I do find it quite funny that a manager in an intense title race with those two clubs can sit there straight faced and say it’s got nothing to do with him. Obviously it’s not something he can control, or help decide in any way, but the game still has ramifications for him and his team. Still, if he said something one way or the other, and the opposite outcome occurred, there’d be ammunition for the other side.

Just look at how comments from Trent Alexander-Arnold (from an interview in FourFourTwo that was probably done weeks before this fixture) have been used in the build-up to spark some ‘controversy’ ahead of Sunday’s game. He called Man City ‘a machine designed to win’, and apparently this is ‘taking aim’ at them, rather than being a very fair representation of what they are all about. It’s true, isn’t it? And even leaving aside my own view of Man City and how they have been put together, it’s not even really a dig. It’s an accurate description of the most successful team in modern Premier League history (*** + 112 etc).

So then the machine designed to score, Erling Haaland, defends the machine designed to win, and you have the pre-match coverage all sewn up. Not quite two boxers at the weigh-in spouting off at each other, but somewhat adjacent to that kind of thing. As much as the ‘bantz’ are part and parcel of fan landscape these days, when it seeps into the build-up with key players etc, you can completely understand why Arteta would want to avoid that kind of nonsense as much as possible.

I think we all enjoy when there’s a bit of aggro; when players and managers actually have a real pop at each other – especially if it’s born out of genuine antipathy. But this kind of manufactured outrage isn’t that, everyone can see it for what it is, and it’s basically just really boring.

One interesting snippet from the presser was Arteta being asked about Ivan Toney and simply refusing to talk about him, as you would expect. But when pushed a bit about how recent goalscoring form might change the plans in the transfer market at the end of the season, he said:

No, the plans that we have for the summer are very clear and were done almost at the start of the season, understanding what we can have, the contract situations that we have with some players and how we want to improve and maintain the level of the team. This certainly has not changed anything.

Obviously plans can change because football is unpredictable. An injury, or a player having his head turned by another club, can change what you need to do, but I do think the fact we’re good again and that we’re executing medium-long term plans when it comes to transfers are connected. So much of what we did in the past felt reactive, driven by the market and how we used it (or didn’t use it), rather than by design. It feels different now, and hopefully what Arteta, Edu and the rest of them have put in place will help this team develop and evolve further next season and beyond.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. There’s a brand new Arsecast below, and we’ll take a look ahead to the Brentford game a bit later in our Patreon preview podcast. Have a good Friday.

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