Good to see Harry Kane continuing to fight for parity with the top European Leagues by embracing the way of modern football and diving his way towards a Tiny Totts victory yesterday. His ‘exaggerated contact’ and the fact he’s English will no doubt earn him a free pass by the English press, but let’s not kid ourselves that he’s anything other than a massive cheat. He’s even shown it in recent weeks with a booking for diving.
And nobody can wheel out the ‘yeah but there was contact’ rubbish to convince me I’m afraid. If somebody uses their little finger to lightly brush your shoulder you aren’t falling over so why should we ‘fall’ for his antics?
Hey, every team does it, we all know that. But certain individuals get freebies and swept under the carpet and other people get chastised. Think Eduardo versus Celtic and Pires versus – I think it was Portsmouth – who both got a battering by the press. “Not in the English game” you hear. Well, actually, yes in the English game.
Hopefully Chelski can batter them in the second leg. I don’t want to see that lot in a final. No siree.
As for The Arsenal, we’ve got a showdown with West Ham to contend with and so all eyes will be on Unai’s presser tomorrow but usually we get a little update from the medical team which will tell us how many players who are injured are actually ‘being assessed ahead of West Ham’. It’s an odd turn of phrase and doesn’t really offer us any real insight. I’d almost wish they’d be more cautious and say “injured. Unlikely to return for West Ham”. Even if they’re still being assessed we’d still have our expectations managed and it’d be a good bonus rather than a disappointing ‘non-reveal’.
My hope is that we get some good news on Hector Bellerin. His absence has shown just how much he’s improved this season and just how much we miss him. Both offensively and defensively. We’ve all known he’s decent going forward and has contributed with the build up to our play, but given our now seemingly over reliance on the output on the left hand side of our pitch with Kolasinac playing particularly well of late, it’s become clear just how good Hector is on the right.
At times this season he’s ploughed a lonely furrow on that right hand side of our pitch with Mkhitaryan and Özil both preferring to play centrally. I bet Hector would love a Theo Walcott-esque right winger to overlap with. Theo was limited – we all know that – but he hugged the touchline and his quick interchanges with Hector were a very good way of releasing either of them down the right hand side of the pitch.
It’s why I hope that we are putting plans in place to give him that support. Imagine how valuable it would be if both Kolasinac and Bellerin had proper wide forwards who they could overlap with and interchange passes with to set them free. It would reduce our reliance on building up attacks on the left and make us much less predictable.
Perhaps Reiss Nelson is the heir apparent. He certainly looks like it and with 20 odd games for Hoffenheim under his belt you’d hope he’d be coming back in the summer to establish a first team slot on that right hand side. He’s also had some time as a full back at Arsenal too, so my hope is that a partnership between those two players could be forged for the future.
But what that means for right now I’m not so sure. We have to find a solution for our loo sidedness this season and perhaps that’s why we’re looking so closely at Suarez. Emery referenced that he can okay as a wide forward and to me it feels like that’s where he might be deployed if he does eventually sign. If that is the case what we’d need from him is some very clear instructions that he isn’t somebody who drifts infield like Özil and Mkhi. We already have those two so now what we need is somebody who can operate out wide. Longer term perhaps Suarez is a Ramsey replacement in the centre but if we get him this January you’d think he might be asked to play in that wide right position.
Or he could be asked to play as a centre half. What do I know?? Unai is as predictable as the wind and so if we get the player we have no idea what he’s going to do with him until we see him trot out on to the pitch in a red and white jersey. My hope is that he’s successful if he does sign though. With our limited budget we can’t really afford for him not to be.
Anyway, nothing has happened on the transfer front yet so we don’t really need to worry too much, not until the window has slammed shut and our players all suddenly get hit by a wave of bird flu, that is.
Until such time as that though, let’s just worry about what is in front of us, which is West Ham on a Saturday lunchtime.
Catch you all in the morrow.