Good morning from London where I can honestly say I have a touch *to cook* this morning.
Mikel Arteta met with the press yesterday and talked about the past season and tomorrow’s match against Wolves. I liked his response when asked if he could use one word to sum up the season and he said:
Connection. I think the team came together, I think the club came together. The departments in the clubs have connected in a really powerful way. The crowd connected with the team, the club, the owners and the rest of the world. And I think we’ve reconnected with our DNA: who we are, our way of doing things, and we need to move forward.
It seems right to me. We had dinner last night and talking to different people about this season, it was a common theme. I don’t remember feeling lost for a long time. After we beat Bournemouth in this amazing way, I sat on the sofa, worked on the Arseblog and enjoyed it all. Post-match memes, replays, but also videos of people who showed how much it means. Of course, I don’t approve of Oleksandr Zinchenko’s honking because it cost us the title in the end, but the rest was great.*
I had been a few weeks earlier to see a Brentford match which had been a frustrating day but felt I had to go back to get the atmosphere again. I realize I’m lucky to be able to do this, and I don’t take any game for granted, but I wanted a bit of what the 60,000+ in the stadium were feeling that day. I recovered from a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace a few weeks later. Excellent performance and win but I had to scratch my head after seeing this team in person in a positive way.
I don’t know if you can call it routine but a few weeks ago we beat Everton 4-0 and after winning at Palace we also beat Leeds 4-1. We were traveling by car and there was a good atmosphere around. You don’t have to tell me it went a little wrong, but it was so tangible and, importantly, different than in recent years.
No one appreciates losing, no one sings and dances about underperformance, no one will lyrically talk about bad decisions from top to bottom. This is what we experienced. And then we hired Mikel Arteta, who said that was something he was going to do, and he did. It took some time, but he did it.
He addressed this in his press about how, as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Man City, he sat on the bench and looked around the club, which was a bit broken.
It is very close to the dream I had. Two days before I took the executive position, I was sitting on the other bench looking at this picture that I wasn’t happy with.
It’s interesting that despite the stark difference he made, he drew some similarities with this season, saying:
I had a very similar stance in my head about some of the experiences we had this year. Something important is missing – raising the cup together. This is what we must try to do now.
This is the next step. It still seems to be something that is missing in the new stadium – celebrating the trophy together. Even when we won the FA Cup in 2020, it was behind closed doors. It’s always good to win a cup, but it wasn’t the same. So when I think about how we’ve done this season, it’s comforting to know that Arteta thinks it wasn’t enough. That there is still work to be done (of course), things to improve and further progress to be made – while maintaining the rebuilt bond between club and supporters (and vice versa).
I think Amy Lawrence said it very well last week on Arsecast:
@thearsblog BELONGING! Amy Lawrence from Arseccast 730 #Arsenal ♬ original sound – arseblog
Ok, I’ll leave it for this morning. Tonight, with our friends from the Arsenal Vision podcast, we’ll have our podcast live at Union Chapel in Islington where we’ll be filming breezes about the season, highs and lows, highs and lows and much more.
We’re all waiting for those of you with tickets. If you feel like coming, I’d advise you to follow my Twitter @arseblog and this with @yankeegunner – there seem to be some spare parts, so we’ll forward anyone we see.
Have a nice Saturday.
* Insert sarcasm font here.