Timely for the purposes of fitness, form, and momentum…
I think we can all see that you – collectively – were struggling.
Chances created, chances spurned…Slow starts…Defensive mistakes…A lack of collective confidence and dropping of heads as goals are conceded, calls have gone against you, and key first-teamers have sustained injuries seemingly at the rate of 1+ per match…All these have been on display as you have struggled mightily during the month of March.
This particular supporter is relieved that Arsenal FC will not play another competitive first team match this month – as I am confident many of you, the players, are. As bad as March has been, however, it could have been even worse…I think we can see some light at the end of the tunnel – it is down to you to make sure the light is not a false dawn.
Some of you are with your national squads, training and getting ready to play for them. Others are rehabilitating from injury. Still more are doing neither of these two things…
Whichever each of you are respectively doing, I urge you to make the best use of the time. If you play/train, try to avoid injury as best you can.
If you are rehabbing, try everything you can to get yourself back for April 2nd (if possible), without overdoing it and extending your period on the sidelines. If you will neither play international football or rehab during these two weeks, use the time to work on things you know you need to improve. It may be finishing off a break from the opposition half, it may be tracking an opposing forward and giving him no place to go…It may be delivering set pieces, it may be improving in-match decision-making…
Regardless of how you are spending this break from club football, please maximize the time you have – including giving your body whatever rest your situation allows – and return ready to go, focused on nothing but the task at hand. Nine games, twenty-seven points…That is all that should matter – it is as simple as that.
If you, as a team, can clear the external distractions out of your minds, and set your focus to attaining that, three points at a time, then we will be in a very, very nice place after the final whistle on May 22nd.
We are all human, so blocking the “other stuff” out of our minds is easier said than done. I certainly struggle with it personally, and I expect many of you do as well. If this is you, why not draw inspiration and extra motivation from it?
I know that many of you read the supporter blogs – and those of you who do not can ask the club’s communications department (who most assuredly read them) or your teammates for a snapshot of the prevailing mood.
As with everything else, supporter moods range from wildly optimistic, to supremely confident, to cautiously positive, to time to start over. Certain players come in for more criticism than others, other players are lavishly praised. This is life. Whatever is being said about you, why not draw inspiration and motivation from it?
If you are one of the players who sections of our support no longer want at the club, why not use this situation as extra motivation to prove those who doubt you wrong? If you are one of the players regularly praised, regardless of results, why not use that praise as a reminder that standards are attained to be exceeded?
After all, it takes only an instant to negate the positive feedback. I will readily admit that some of the comments – at both ends (positive and negative) of the spectrum are extreme, but as supporters, we see things as we are, not necessarily as they are.
Regardless, there is no reason why you cannot use these supporter views as extra motivation for these last few games…
If the supporter view is unimportant to you, that is your choice and I – as a solitary supporter – have absolutely no problem with that. But may I ask if you can recall the last article or match report (from print media, not supporters) saying that you will go on to win the league? Specifically because the bad recent run is not an indication of mental fragility? Or that recent seasons where you sustained early springtime losses in bunches means nothing now because this is a different season?
Neither can I…I don’t like it any more than I suspect you do, but you are once again being labeled a group of mentally weak bottlers, unable to deliver with real pressure on, and predictably collapsing as the season enters the final phase – like clockwork.
Arsene talks about your mental strength at every opportunity, trying to convince everyone that you have what it takes to go the distance – and is roundly ridiculed, both in the media and large sections of our support. However you look at it, only you can change this perception, and your last shot to do it this season is by winning the league.
If whatever points you are able to collect from these final nine games do not add up to first place after the final whistle on May 22nd, you and all us supporters will have another summer to reflect upon what might have been…
But it doesn’t have to end that way.
Let me ask you – why not you? Is there REALLY any reason you cannot win the league title this season? You have injuries – so do Man United. You have a tough run-in. All the other teams in the top five have fixture congestion, Man City and Spurs still in two competitions and United and Chelsea still in three. Slumping from four potential trophies to only one in the space of a few weeks is discouraging enough, but why not use that to your advantage?
Why not take to the pitch determined to jump on these sides, score early and wear them out. And if either Manchester side and/or Spurs exit from one or more of these cups before we play them, then look to increase their misery and suffering – after all, it was only what Barcelona and United did to you.
So…Come back from the break fit, focused, and ready to go. Each and every one of you will have a part to play in the run-in, and each of you must be mentally and physically ready to do your job at a moment’s notice, with one hundred percent commitment and focus.
If you don’t think this is the case, just look at the players who are currently injured. 27 from 9 will do the job, and there will be nothing anyone else can do – that has to be your goal. And it is attainable, so long as you don’t take to the pitch tense, inhibited, and afraid of losing.
You have come up short in the past few seasons and were eliminated from three cups in the past 23 days – you have tasted this failure; you have had more than your share. Is it really something to be so scared of?
Why sell yourselves short by taking the pitch nervous and inhibited? Why cross that touch-line thinking about failure? Why not stride on to the pitch thinking you own the place, the three points are yours, and the opposition can do nothing about it?
This is an opportunity, guys – an opportunity to come of age, accomplish something tangible, silence the doubters and bring the first trophy to Emirates Stadium. It is nothing to shirk from, nothing to be afraid of – nothing at all.
It is an opportunity for you to banish the ghosts of Arsenal sides past and silence all the whispers about you, your character, Arsene, and where our club is headed. It’s an opportunity that very few other sides have – so make it count and go out and win this thing!!
Written by Oliver