It’s press conference day today, which means that by the time most people who bother to read this collection of Arsenal-related rabble, most of what has been said has already been supeceded by the words of Arsène. I’ll persevere nonetheless though, because I’m sure I can find something Arsenal-related to talk about, especially given that it takes up most of my time.
Team news first though, in which everyone seems to be fit, bar Big Per. He went down with a hammy last week I believe and that is his season over. Not that there’s much left of it. And not that it’s worth sticking around for I guess. It means Gabriel will get his chance and now that he’s completed a year and a half at The Arsenal, the jury is certainly deliberating, with many already condemning him to the life of a Squillaci.
Personally I’m not quite there yet. Plenty of overseas players have had to take time to adapt to roles and Gabriel will have learnt a lot during his first full season at the club. He’s looked like he has a rick in him during every game he’s started, but he’s made 25 starts in all competitions, so I’m not sure whether or not that qualifies him to be fully judged. Yet.
Let’s not forget that he’s had to displace a partnership which had been in place for a couple of years in Per and Kos, where either new intimately the strengths and weaknesses of the other, where as Gabriel has had to find his role alongside either one.
I’m not saying that he’s going to become the next Tony Adams, but given his game time has been granted to him in patches, I can understand why Arsène wanted to give him a run in the team. Do we need another centre half to come in during the summer? Some people will no doubt spit out their coffee at this, but I’m not sure, and not just because Gabriel needs more time. But we need to give Chambers an opportunity too. In this age of instant information, people want players to be instantly successful, but cast your mind back only a few years and think of some of the players that have not been given the chance or have needed time to adapt. When Big Per first came in to the team people lamented his lack of pace. But that can be offset by his positional ability. Conversely, Chambers has played very well from when he was first asked to come in to the team, but he’s been played as a full back since he first arrived and to me he is anything but that. There are people I have seen dismiss Chambers, but on what basis? A few dodgy games at full back? That simply doesn’t make sense to me.
We have a lot of surgery needed in the summer and I don’t think that central defence is an area I’d be looking at first. We need answers further up the pitch and so if an opportunity defensively comes along to improve the team in that position then fine, let’s go for it, but let’s concentrate on making improvements in midfield, wide forward and up top first.
I do wonder what Arsène will say about Santi’s involvement this weekend. It’d be nice to see him, but I’d be shocked if it wasn’t for anything other than as a substitute. He’s been a vital cog we’ve missed for most of this season, but he’s been out for so long, I’m just not sure what impact he could have in the next couple of games. I suspect we’ll see more of Jack than Santi; he’s the one I hope Wenger chooses to experiment with alongside Elneny this Sunday. But more on that over the weekend. For now, I’ll leave you to your Friday, and speak tomorrow.