It’s 7am on Friday as I write this, with at least 2 hours until Arsène’s first presser of the season and where normally there would be anticipation and excitement on our chances this season, there is mainly only worry that what usually happens to Arsenal – injuries – has come at least two months earlier than normal and we’ve failed to act in time to ensure we’ve given ourselves the best possible chance of starting with a win.
Still, it seems as though the club are acting, with the Mustafi deal being in the stages where everyone knows about it, but there hasn’t been any pictures taken or leaks of any medicals done. There were some noises yesterday about his agent saying the deal is done, but I’ve also read somewhere that neither Arsenal nor Valencia regard the guy who made the announcement, as Mustafi’s actual agent. Sorry, I’d link to it if I could, but for the life of me I can’t see anything this morning (as well as being a little to lazy to do any proper digging around).
However, when Sky Sports go quite heavy on announcements, they usually do it with some knowledge. So I’m inclined to believe that the negotiations are probably at that final stage of agreeing a fee. And yes, the irony of my statement just there by making that sound like a formality, isn’t lost on me either. Given Arsenal’s rapacious nature, it wouldn’t surprise me if this dragged in to next week.
That won’t, of course, help us for this weekend, but at least we’ll get an inkling from the manager on his plans for central defence using ‘internal solutions’. That being the case, he’ll no doubt be quizzed on whether Laurent Koscielny is back and available to play. My hope is he says ‘no’, because Arsène is to gambling what Agassi is to staying sober, so I can’t imagine a scenario where Koscielny wouldn’t get injured or look out of shape if he plays this weekend.
That means we’re looking at option a) being two young central defenders who haven’t even played more than a couple of games together, and option b) which is a square peg in a round hole in the shape of a certain Nacho Monreal. Some people have mentioned Debuchy in that role but if Arsène had the choice I’d be stunned if he didn’t pick Nacho every time. He’s had more games in the position, we have a better option at left back if he moves in to the centre, plus we all know he has more of a future at the club than Debuchy does. So I can’t see anything other than the Spaniard, if Arsène opts for experience over natural position selection.
As I said, the Mustafi deal needs to then get over the line and we need to see how we get on with integrating him in to the team before the Leicester game.
And besides, we’re pants on the opening game of the season anyway, so I’ve kind of written this first game off, anyway.
(Can you note the sense of self-preservation tactics I’m already whirring in to gear ahead of the new season?)
Oooh, how about some super-mega-awesome news? Jacky Wilshere telling us that he’s not making any more silly challenges in training. Well it’s about bloody time, lad, the last horse finally crossed the finish line. It’s great that he’s realised that he needs to hold fire on his competitive nature in training, but there’s a few ways to look at this, I think:
- He’s going to get those challenges in games, so let’s just hope his body holds up.
- By not making those challenges, he’s able to reduce the number of impacts his body will take on a weekly basis, which therefore will mean that he’s less likely (we hope) to suffer as many injuries.
Arsène has already mentioned how it’s a big season for Jack and, having effectively missed two seasons of football already, the fear is that he’s reaching Rosicky status of injury-proneness. That’s my fear. Right now I’d wager he’s at Vermaelen levels, but if he picks up any more longer term knocks, bumps, bruises or strains, the fear is that he’ll hit Rosickian levels. From there, given his age, it’s a slippery slope to Diabyian levels of injury proneness. And nobody would wish that on a player who promised so much in the early stages of his Arsenal career.
Was he overplayed too much at a young age? I’m not sure, personally, because I think his personality always had him getting into challenges on the field. So I think that coupled with his style of holding on to the ball that split second longer, has contributed towards his regular impact challenges, so it wouldn’t have matter if he broke through at 17 or 23, I still think he’d have come across these problems eventually.
A quick tip of the cap to Gnabry too, who continues to impress at the Olympics, and hopefully can also have an impact in the first team too this season. It’s always nice seeing youngsters rise through the ranks, and for someone who two seasons ago showed a lot of promise, I’d like to see him get another shot at the first team.
Right, that’s it from me, so I’ll catch you in the morrow with a full digest of every single utterance Arsène made.