Yesterday I was far too hanging to be able to tap away at my computer. Had I have been then I’d have most likely talked about Pablo Mari, who is set to become our first signing, after being spotted on Saturday night at Heathrow airport with Edu.
It’s a deal that brings in a centre half as another body and whilst not exactly the most exciting prospect we’ve ever had at the club, it will fill a gap left by the injured Chambers, the half fit Holding and the calamitous Mustafi. So as it stands I’m not up in arms.
I’m also not up in arms if the deal is a loan with an option to buy in the summer if it’s an acceptable six months he has at the club. I think that’s fair and it mitigates any long term risk is he is, well, a bit pants. Apparently people who watch Brazilian football day he’s very good in the air, good with the ball at his feet, but isn’t very quick. That last attribute is one that will worry many Arsenal fans given the pace of the Premier League, but there are so many defenders that aren’t blessed with pace and yet still forge a decent career. I don’t particularly think Harry Maguire is a quick centre back but he had a good enough season for Leicester that it convinced United to drop £80million on him.
I suspect it will be announced today and then we’ll finally get around to our FA Cup game away at Bournemouth and I suspect we’ll see a strong side tonight. We don’t play Burnley until Sunday next week and so it’s six days between games. It means Arteta doesn’t need to worry too much about rotation and instead we need to look at this match tonight as an opportunity to go deeper into the competition and a chance for a shiny silver trinket at the end.
I think he’ll probably give Martinez a shot given that he’s the cup ‘keeper, but then it gets a little more complex. It’s been six days since we played Chelski and the hope is that the timescale works for Bellerin, so I’m hoping he’s given another start as we work him back to fitness. There’ll be no Luiz so I suspect that means Holding and Mustafi unless Sokratis is fit. Apparently it was an illness and so I suspect it will be Sokratis and Mustafi but after the German’s blunder last Tuesday for the opening goal it should probably be Holding. We need to get him back up to match fitness and with Luiz now missing for three games I believe, Holding needs minutes under his belt and that’s why I’d pair him with Sokratis, because Mustafi and Holding feels like a recipe for disaster.
On the left it will continue to be Saka I suspect and in front of them it will be interesting to see just how much Arteta thinks of the FA Cup and our chances of winning it. That’s because if he plays a Guendouzi-plus-one midfield then you know he has other fish to fry. But if he goes with Xhaka and Torreira then you know he wants to navigate this round without a replay.
In front of them there is still one final game to serve of Aubameyang’s suspension but Martinelli should surely come in. Him along with Pepe and Lacazette will play I would have thought, although the Frenchman’s form in front of goal does need to see him get something, anything, to go for him because this goalless streak is getting increasingly worrying for us all. I don’t know whether it’s the set up of the team, the way he drops off to be part of the build up which means he’s not getting into those poacher positions, or what, but something needs to go for him and that’s why I think Arteta plays him from the start tonight.
It’s a shame we haven’t been gifted an easy lower league tie like United or Liverpool because it would have given some other players an option to play and show Arteta what they can do. But in Bournemouth we have an opponent who have already picked up a draw at home, won their last league game comprehensively and now find themselves with an opportunity to build some momentum. It’s up to Arteta to stop that and the way he does it is by channeling the spirit of the team from that Chelski result, matching it with some end product from players who aren’t Auba.
Maybe if he starts we could get another goalscoring dissolution from Martinelli?
What I do know for sure; this will be a different game from any of the other games we’ve had this season, because every single game has been different so far. Each time Arteta’s side has taken to the field we’ve needed to see a different Arsenal; whether it’s a resilient one a man down to one of the better teams in the league, or a quick start and first half goals to get us a lead that we have to hold on to, we’ve seen a different Arsenal each time. I’d like tonight to be an Arsenal team that gets a three, four or five goal lead and then manages a game out. That’s the least stressful for me anyway!
Catch you all tomorrow with a dissection of the game.