One thing which has always intrigued me is how players actually responds to happenings related to the club. Would it be the same as the way fans view it? Even among fans, it can be a varied perception. Some will stand behind one viewpoint while others will be behind a different one. I know friends who are quite concern with how their company is doing and the changes to the organization. Somehow, I doubt the players feel the same way.
This pre season has already seen 2 departures with many more expected to be done before the end of the month. Rightly or wrongly, these 2 departures are the ones more likely to impact the team than the rest. Do the players look at them leaving as a positive or negative sign? It will be hard to judge from an outside perspective. Statements can be released like Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that says we will survive these culls. There can also be statements like the one Gervinho did on how we’ll be fine because we have these newcomers.
Question is, are those believe concrete? Unless Mikel, Alex and Gervinho all told me to my face (something which will never happen, and if it did, this would not be what we would be talking about), it would be hard to believe either side of the story. I’m not saying all these are purposely perpetrated to show a strong front from the squad. Neither am I saying that the players genuinely believe that we are stronger for it. I think it lies somewhere in the middle. You can’t blame the players for being worried looking at those who just left the squad but I’m also sure that they are encouraged by the new signings and what they have shown on the training ground.
Psychologically, the players have to be up for it. We cannot walk into any game thinking that we would not have a chance to win the chance. Although, in Arsenal’s case, it’s more often about thinking about walking into the game with all 3 points secured. The onus is probably on the shoulders of the coaches to ensure that the team is always up for it. The right balance between being confident but knowing that there will be at least 90 minutes of fight ahead of them.
It will also be the responsibilities of the more senior players to guide the younger ones. Acts like Andre Santos, who can be considered one of the senior players, should not happen again. No junior is going to listen to instruction and guidance from seniors who cannot be discipline themselves. Different people have different ways to unwind and who knows if speed if Santos’ method but someone should sit him down and have a word with him. Such behaviour cannot be tolerated and stern warnings will have be thrown in Santos’ way.
Last but not least, I watched the highlights of the Arsenal U21 v Bolton U21 yesterday. It was not in full and what I can say is only based on the 8 minutes plus of highlights. It was good to see Conor Henderson back in action and he capped it off with a sumptuous freekick goal. Technically, I don’t think he’s that far behind the other fringe players in the first team. However, his progress has been delayed by injuries. Hopefully, he can have a good run of fitness and let’s see whether he’s good enough to come through. Apart from him, Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom were also impressive. The former quick and skilful while the latter leads the line well and have good touches in him. Will be interesting to see how these 2 develops.
Development that will be help by the presence of experienced individuals in the first team and the coaching staffs.