Fixture Congestion, Ryo Miyaichi, youth news, and mental fragility.

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Dec 202010

Hi folks, have we been saved by the snow? I’m glad the players now have a chance to prepare properly for the visit of Chelski next Monday. But the fact that we’ll have to play an extra match, and one against Stoke, is hardly good news as we approach the season of good cheer. Knowing the way our fixtures always fall at the worst possible time, we’ll probably have to face them two days before we play Barça in February. At which point Shawcross will break Fabregas and v Persie’s legs in an ‘accidentally late’ challenge before doing Nasri’s cruciate as he walks off for an early bath.

We’ve signed an 18-year-old Japanese striking wunderkind, Ryo Miyaichi, who’ll join us in January. Accoding to his wikipedia page, he’s still at High School! I hope he accustoms himself pretty quickly to daily training and life in England, and doesn’t miss his books too much.

You can see some clips of him here, but I have to say they’re meaningless – until we see him against proper opposition, we can’t really say a lot with any certainty about his prospects. He does show some good touches and a bit of pace, it has to be said, and what’s more he did – apparently – get some interest from other big European clubs.

But the cynic in me did raise his ugly head when I saw this in the Guardian:

Wenger, who coached the Japanese side Grampus Eight before joining Arsenal in 1996, also said that “it’s very important that Asia is represented at our club”.

Now I’m all for expanding our global appeal, and I’m very aware of how we lag behind other leading English clubs in terms of our commercial success, but should we really sign a player, if putting him on the pitch is a financial and not a football decision? If he plays a few Carling Cup games, then that doesn’t disrupt our Premier and Champions League standing, but what about the English strikers who are excelling in our academy? Do we need him at the expense of one of the youth players we already have?

On which note, Steve Bould’s youth team destroyed Darlington to move into the fourth round of the FA youth cup a few days ago. Chucks Aneke got a hat-trick, and Benik Afobe grabbed a couple while for me, Özyakup showed some great touches in midfield. Like Miyaichi, the test for our youngsters will come against better opposition. Here’s the highlights:

Cesc has something to say here in the Guardian about our mental fragility against the big teams, and most recently ManUre.

Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games – we don’t really go for it and we’re tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do.

A worrying thing for our captain to say, but at least he recognises the problem. He should, as club captain, do his best to put a stop to this and try to ensure the lads are confident, and that we play our game, rather than responding to the oppostion’s.

I think a large part of this mental fragility could be down to the Home/Away, divide. Away there’s less expectation on us to play our own game and not respond to the opposition, whereas at home, we’re expected to play our own brand of attacking football. Perhaps this provides some explanation for our contrasting home and away form. We need to be more confident wherever we play, and make others dance to our tune. Easier said than done though.

To get you in the Christmas spirit, here’s a pic of Gibbs and Wilshere looking festive. And this from a gooner on Facebook:

I met a fairy today who granted me only one wish. I said, “I want to live forever.”

“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that.”

“Fine,” I said, “I want to die when Sp*rs win the league.”

“You crafty bastard” said the fairy.

Back with more on Chelsea tomorrow.

Arsenally Yours,