As is always the way when you reach the middle part of a week in between fixtures, all seems to be relatively quiet in London Colney at the moment, which I have no real issue with to be honest. Last night The Management asked which day Arsenal are playing on this midweek, then seemed quite stunned that there are no games, such has been the frequency of football. It’s what happens when you have the festive season glut of games, I guess.
There’s still no news on Elneny, but that’s probably just tying up the loose ends before it’s done, I suppose. If the deal is so close to completion though, you’d think the club would try to get it done as soon as they can, because Sunderland at home in the FA Cup would be a lot less of a baptism of fire than Liverpool or Stoke away. So getting the lad in now, giving him a day or twos training and then naming him in the squad for Saturday would be my utopia. But then again, I’m a fan with absolutely no comprehension of the intricacies of a football transfer, so what seems simple on the outside will invariably be more difficult in reality.
Whenever he comes in though, I’d expect him to play a similar role to Gabriel last season, only being called upon if needed through injury or suspension, or in the domestic cups. Expectations of a saviour probably won’t be forthcoming, but that’s not a problem, because most of the Arsenal fans I speak to recognise that we need a decent level of bodies in the team to cover positions as and when we need them.
Speaking of which, I do wonder if Arsène will keep hold of Gnabry a little longer, now that he’s returned from his disasterous spell at West Brom. Pulis has criticised the youngster for not being ready, but his approach to football doesn’t really lend itself to somebody who isn’t a clobbermesiter, so I’m not surprised it hasn’t worked out. We’ve seen Gnabry’s ability first hand and all he really needs is games and a manager who doesn’t tell him to sit in front of his ow full back and win a few headers. If rumours of Chris Hughton wanting him at Brighton are true, I wonder if that might be a decent move for the lad, as I suspect Brighton have a more cultured approach to playing the game than Pulis’ Orcs 2.0.
Alternatively, he could keep Gnabry knocking around at the club, with the promise he’ll play some FA Cup football and might get a bit of game time over the next few weeks. We have players returning in February who will probably push the German further down the pecking order in a month or so’s time, but right now we need short term fixes, so why shouldn’t we be looking at having somebody with his ability as an option for the bench? Then, if players are returning from injury towards the end of January, Arsène can sanction the loan deal until the end of the season and let Serge continue his education by getting games.
This football management lark is easy when they’re all just names on a blog/paper, eh?
Whether or not that all transpires as I have foretold remains to be seen, but the other option that a lot of fans would prefer would probably be to dip in to the transfer market. The reality is that very few players of any real quality ever get sold in January, unless the fee is so exorbitant that the selling club can’t help but laugh, then accept. When have Arsenal ever been made to look that desparate? Rarely during January, that’s for sure, but the signings like Elneny make sense at this time of the year. Relatively low fee, low risk, with the opportunity to find a gem that could force themselves in to the first team within the next 12 months. That’s what we’re doing in midfield and it’s probably why we won’t see a centre forward come in either. Why do we need a squad player in that position when we have Welbeck (eventually) coming back?
I’m quite chilled about it all to be honest with you. I think we have cover in all positions if we bring Elneny in, plus we’ve got Walcott and Giroud who have scored goals up top, so I don’t think the need is so pressing that we can’t go on and be successful without getting in ‘MEGABUCKS STRIKER XYZ!’. We just need players to come back from injury to complement the existing players. We have those players already in the squad.
Righto, time for me to beat a retreat hastier than Rafael Benitez at a Florentino Perez meeting.