Howdy all, hope you are well on this Tuesday. A Tuesday in which hopefully Barcelona knock out the Totts and so we really can have a chuckle at the advertising they did about Champions League football. But anyway, that’s them and they’re not worthy of much airtime.
Today in minded of the words that Bernd Leno said about Laurent Koscielny and how he gave a pep talk to the team before the Tottenham game. It would have hardly have been a “up against the wall by the throat” Tony Adams on Lee Dixon type approach I think, but by the sounds of it Lolo did the job as the players were inspired enough to go on to win the game. And win by playing well too.
It’s odd because within a week Koscielny has gone from being an experienced head who should be eased in to the team and used as a rotated player, to a guy who is pretty much our only available centre half for Southampton on Sunday. You could say that Monreal can do that job too but that’s not his recognised position, which means Koscielny is the only player available to play with the suspensions of Mustafi and Sokratis and the injuries to Holding and Mavropanos.
It means quite a lot of pressure is suddenly being heaped on a player who has only just returned from injury and came off in his recent under-23 outing with cramp. Given that turn of events, it would surprise me to see that he’s working hard with the medical team, perhaps even getting in another behind closed doors friendly yesterday or even today, so that he can get some semblance of fitness ahead of the journey to St Mary’s.
It does put this month and the frequency of games – as well as the rotation needed – in to stark contrast when you see how many players have gone down, or are even injured, already in December and with that in mind surely Unai must be thinking twice about risking anyone other than the youth players on Thursday. We’re at a time in the year where all the cotton wool at Colney needs to be used to keep the current first team protected.
In an ideal word Koscielny’s rehab schedule would have included a meaningless game at home against a team who have nothing to play for having already been knocked out, followed by another outing a week or so after that to let him recover, but with our need to have bodies available for the game at the weekend I’d be telling Koscielny to get fit for that and forget about Thursday’s game.
Perhaps there is also a need to see Medley from the start on Thursday given that we need more options in central defence in case the worst happens at the weekend. The kid came on for our Vorskla game and did alright but he’s had minutes of first team football only and if we need somebody to serve as understudy given the current crisis then we need to give him a whole 90 on Thursday I reckon.
It’s a conundrum that Unai will be acutely award of and hopefully he’s got some kind of master plan to address what should only be a short term problem. Well, I say that, but if Mustafi is injured as well as suspended (he came off holding his hammy on Saturday) then he might be out longer than the one game enforced ban and that means Koscielny and Monreal may be alternating centre half appearances over the Christmas period.
It also makes you wonder about whether the club will be forced in to the January transfer market for a centre half too. Perhaps given Koscielny’s age and there being talk of a move next summer that a centre half was on the cards for next season and if that is the case then it could be fast tracked if the targets are lined up, but with the January window being an expensive time of year – a complete reversal of what we experience with the January sales – for football clubs, it may need some serious negotiation. Given the sheer volume of cash that is at stake with the Champions League spot it may be the case that we can ill afford to wait around until the summer and hope we can just ‘get by’.
Of course I could just be overthinking it because we could see all of our defenders except Holding back fit and fighting by the time January comes around. But it does feel like now is a time that we need to just keep patching ourselves together and grinding out results.