You’ve got to love our collective optimism as Arsenal fans, followed by the ‘edge of a cliff’ melancholy, that comes as a result of Arsenal doing something slightly differently and out of the norm with the usual regime.
I am, of course, talking about the press conference that took place yesterday. Arsenal’s pre-game pressers are usually on Friday or Thursday, often depending on whether we’re away and travel is needed the next day, so when murmurs started in the morning yesterday that a ‘surprise’ conference was called we of course got all ‘Sol Campbell’ levels of excited.
Was it another big central defensive signing?
Was it some boardroom changes?
Was it a mega sponsorship deal?
Was it a big announcement about a cash injection that would ‘kick start’ our ascent up the league from KSE (stop laughing. Even I’m sniggering on the tube at the prospect of that lot actually doing something that shows ambition)?
Well, no, actually. It was a normal press conference as the players have all been given today off. That’s an interesting one because it in itself is quite unusual, but Arteta is trying to change culture a little bit and this sort of breaking from the norm might be good for the players. Perhaps Arteta has been intensively working them and they need 24 hours to recharge ahead of a big game on Saturday followed by a very tough fixture next Tuesday.
Makes sense to me.
So it was just your normal presser and in it Arteta confirmed that Kolasinac is out for Saturday, Bellerin still isn’t right and that basically means we’re now probably going to be five months without a natural right back in the side this season. It’s something that must be addressed but I suspect it will be a summer decision.
The Kolasinac absence is a shame but I wonder if the Chelski game is the one that is being prioritised for him. If he’s 50/50 he could probably play but if you can give him an extra few days to recover and and we get a better chance of keeping him fit beyond this weekend, then you do it, so I can kind of understand Arteta’s thinking there.
The other news is Torreira and I guess we’re in the same boat with him too. He has been pivotal under Arteta so far and was good in the first half against Palace before coming off. Of course we want him to play this weekend but you have to think of the long term with players like him with whom we don’t have a natural replacement who can slot in. It’s not as if we have a ball winning defensive midfielder ready and waiting and Guendouzi has shown he is certainly not that sort of player. Neither is Xhaka. Perhaps Arteta could experiment with Luiz but he too is not the type of profile fit that Torreira is.
Torreira isn’t mentioned in the medical team update but if there’s any longer term risk then we need to make sure he isn’t in danger of a prolonged period on the sideline. We have enough long term injuries as it is.
We also have enough problems with Auba missing too, because we’ve not exactly got a wealth of players all chipping in with goals, so the next three games will be a real challenge. Lacazette needs to step up, we all know that, but the news that Eddie will stay at the club for the rest of the season is really intriguing actually. Arteta has previously spoken about the fact that he needs game time so I wonder if there’s the possibility that we’ll start to see a lot more of Nketiah than we thought.
Apparently he’s been impressed by the kid since he’s been reintegrated into the first team and that being the case, and with Auba missing for the next three games, it’s a chance to give him some minutes I reckon, and surely he’ll be given them.
There was a few ripples of concern that the club might cash in on someone like Lacazette this January but I don’t see it that way. Lacazette and Auba have been in Arteta’s starting XI when possible and I see that set to continue. But with both playing it means that we have no other central striker options to choose from. By having Nketiah on the bench it means Martinelli, Nelson and Pepe can all rotate as the wide forwards and so to me makes perfect sense to keep him. But like Arteta has previously said, it’s about getting him games, so he’ll have to find a space for him somewhere I reckon.
But the most pressing concern will be who plays wide left and Arteta was giving nothing away, like transfers, in his presser. On the former issue, I suspect it’ll be Martinelli, but on the latter I think we aren’t going to see anything. There are always lots of noises and that usually means something happens within a week, so the fact we aren’t even getting the whispers, says to me we won’t be doing anything soon. And with just over two weeks until it shuts, right now it feels like it would be surprising to see any new faces in at London Colney.
I’ll leave it at that for now. More thoughts tomorrow on Sheffield United and what Tricky Micky said about their play tomorrow.