Back in Blighty, back on my usual commute to work, but thankfully, also back in to the swing of all things Arsenal and there’ll be no time to waste before we’re off again, with the small matter of French Champions Paris Saint Germain to contend with.
I’d imagine that there will be a presser at some stage today from Le Boss, so we’ll wait to hear what he has to say on who’s fit and who’s not, but I suspect we’re all anticipating a little bit of rotation anyway given the team selection at the weekend. So the only real question mark is Koscielny, who took a hefty boot to the face, but we all have to hope it isn’t too serious. Perhaps we’ll see a return of the face mask for our current stand-in skipper?
I fancy Arsène to talk up the quality of his squad today. I’ll wager we’ll hear him talking about how he has a big squad and needs to utilise more players, which as far as I’m concerned, will be the biggest indicator of rotation for tomorrow. It’s fair to say, however, that we ‘got away with it’ a bit on Saturday. You only have to look at the reaction from players like Mesut to see that. But hey, a wins a win, and we won. So let’s not get too bent out of shape on it.
For my part, I’ve always advocated that Arsène rotate a little more, because I think it means we are able to keep players fitter for longer if we do. I’m not naive enough to think that all players will remain fit all season if we rotate, but it’s more about playing the probabilities, and the probability of keeping your best players fitter if you manage their fabled ‘red zone’ levels remains higher of them staying on the pitch.
Arsène has always preferred to keep a standard XI in as long as possible and whilst there has been seasons when we’ve been able to get so far in to a season with a collective of the same 12 or 13 players each week, normally come the turn of the year we’ve started to see players break down, so if he’s trying to manage players from an earlier part in the season then perhaps we should be happy.
Of course, as football fans we’re never 100% happy until the trophies in the bag at the end of the season, so Arsène (and any other football manager to be honest) is on a bit of a hiding to nothing. For example, if I take myself as a case in point, I was pretty exasperated with the team selection on Saturday. But all told, the narrative was defined by the result and because of the rotation and a win in the bag, Wenger’s decision not to start certain players now looks like a justifiable one. Having spent a number of years talking up the importance of rotation, on Saturday I was chatting to a few Gooners in the Irish pub where I watched the game, telling them that rotation this early in the season seems a little over-cautious to me.
So if I use myself as an example, sometimes the manager can never win, and we as fans want to have our cake and eat it. As well as some ice cream. And chocolate. And then a Baileys afterwards.
Arsene’s also talked up the importance of giving Lucas Perez more time to adapt to his new surroundings. I think most Arsenal fans probably will do just that, but I don’t think I was the only person raising an eyebrow that the Spaniard even started, mainly because it was a very un-Arsène thing to do. He’s always given players time to bed in where possible and with Giroud back fit and also playing for his national team, I thought he’d be a dead-feet to start, with perhaps Perez getting 20 minutes. But he was hooked off after 60 – which Arsène almost never does – which also is very un-Arsène like.
I get Mustafi starting, given the pressing need for experience at the back, but the Perez one was slightly surprising, but if it means that he’s had a better taster to the Premier League at an earlier stage then perhaps it will be to his benefit.
Right, that’s me done for today, so off I go for another day in the smog. Have a good’un.