Mikel Arteta does his chores
By Sumaiya Vawda
Pre-season has laboriously chugged into motion—think Willian attempting a take-on versus Hibernian. This period presents an opportune moment to reflect on the summer away from Arsenal's still-sinking ship, especially the vacation of the man at the helm, Mikel Arteta.
At the culmination of the 20/21 season, Arteta reflected on the break: "I have three boys and two dogs. The three boys, the energy, the love that they give me when they hug, you cannot describe that. They need from me that I give something back." It's evident that he planned to make up lost time with his family. Yet, surely, during the mundane tasks of a home routine, he couldn't banish Arsenal from his wandering thoughts. No good ship's captain would.
First, he pops on yellow latex gloves for safety. It stings when their bands rebound towards his skin—he relearns this lesson daily, but does not wish to veer from his initial methods. Arteta strides over to the sink. His focused gaze looks him over from his reflection in the silver tap. Is that a grey hair marring his black canvas? He must not get side-tracked, so he gets the water running. Aah running. He remembers when Hector Bellerín was a name attached to the word (see also: speed). His wavy locks would synchronise with the wind. Arteta clicks his tongue at the thought that the right-back may have the better head of hair.
The dishes sit glistening on the drying rack after every food morsel is removed. Colourful foods can stain even good quality dinnerware. He is far too aware of these stains, and gets quite ticked off every time one appears in his mind, especially the Guendouzi-shaped one, which seems to be especially hard to clean. Intense scrubbing is the only solution.
It's time for the sink plug to be removed. Mikel turns it over in his palm. He could do well with a midfield plug such as this; one to quell attacks. The silicone is durable, malleable and flexible. "I need to make the right choice on this midfielder," he mumbles to himself. Better ring Edu once I'm done.
Next, it's onto some light sweeping. The bristles on the broom remind him of a goatee he's seen. Oh yes, it was on that French kid who plays in defence. Arteta allows himself to think of where Saliba might play next, and in which cultures those clubs indulge. How he wishes he had chosen an international destination for this holiday instead of being home!
The broom gives way to a mop. Arteta is always surprised by how white it remains. Benjamin White. "He has the answers," Arteta muses aloud. It's time to pull out the duster and reset the pantry. The spice jars are disorderly from last night's dinner, so he rearranges them methodically. Salt and pepper at the front- the essentials, the goal scorers. How do the other bottles fit around them, you ask. Well, it's either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, but thinking of committing to one pattern is hurting Arteta's brain.
There are lumps of chewing gum under the spice shelf. Arteta mentally notes that he must talk to the boys about this. Good behaviour come before all else. He grabs a butter knife to scrape them off, but they're more resistant than he expected. He still believes he can get this done quickly, as he has experience peeling Mesut Özil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis away from renewed contracts.
Arteta grows impatient as he waits for the washing machine to complete its cycle. How can a machine so effective never finish according to its schedule? It's a little bit like Ainsley Maitland-Niles; able but sometimes unwilling and care-free.
When hanging up the washing, he notices dog hair on his jumper. "I must order new black menswear for this season," he says to himself. Planning is vital in this vein. The minutiae are where games can be lost, but sometimes we create apparent problems for ourselves, like the Willian conundrum.
Arteta picks up a non-sponsored vitamin water to cool down following his chore routine. He gazes out the window and can't help but smile. An inflatable unicorn floats on his pool while his kids have a kickabout with their socks down at the ankles. On a footballing front, everything may turn out alright after all. He just needs to get his ducks in a Rowe.