Morning all, happy Friday and a big ‘hooray!’ to the fact that the international break is behind us, most certainly confirmed by the pre-match presser that Arteta did via Zoom yesterday. I have to say kudos to the man himself because, if I was in his position, I’d be pretty livid at the farcical fact that Kieran Tierney is as it stands unavailable for selection because of the rules of the Scottish Government. He tested negative for COVID-19, yet Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive and his Portugal teammates have no such restrictions imposed on him. How is that logical in any way?
Arteta spoke about not being angry or frustrated, but more that there needs to be a uniform rule in place and he’s absolutely right. How does it make sense that there are probably dozens of other top flight footballers who have had exactly the same situations as Kieran Tierney over this period, yet there are different rules?
Arsenal should be placing rules on the Scottish FA on how and when they use our players from now on. See how that goes down.
(I know it’s not the Scottish FA’s fault, but I’m just using this as an extreme example to show how ludicrous this situation is)
So we face Man City tomorrow possibly without Tierney but at least it sounds like we have a pretty decent bill of health ahead of the game and also some returnees in the shape of Chambers, Mustafi and possibly Mari. That’s good news all round because the next few week’s sees the start of the Europa League again and we need to see rotation across the board so having a fuller and fitter squad works for me. And given some of the difficult games we have coming up you have to look at the return of all of our centre halves and breathe a sign of relief because it means continuing with three at the back will at least give the manager options.
He’s also got options in midfield now and spoke about the fact that Partey is fit enough to be included in the squad for tomorrow. It would be great to see him start but I suspect this game will come too early for him. He’s had like two training sessions, or something like that, so to expect him to slot in exactly to the teams style of play might be asking too much. What is a positive however, is that he is fluent in English, which is Ghana’s official language. So that won’t be a barrier to him and hopefully that means his integration period into the team will be swifter.
I hope we do see him at some stage though. It’s becoming clearer that we’ve got ourselves a baller and with every passing day I’ve been getting more excited. Yesterday I even read that Francis Cagigao has been talking up the Ghanian and how his ‘shackles are off’ now that he’s at The Arsenal compared to Atletico Madrid. That excites me because it suggests there is even more to come from a guy who was already an integral part of Atletico Madrid’s midfield. If he can click in our team and give us what we all think he’s going to deliver, then we’ll have quite some player we’ve just brought in. Time will tell.
Arteta was also asked about Pep and his position, as well as the start to the season they have had and of course, he batted it away somewhat. You’d expect that, but what I’d also agree with him on is that I think City have been unlucky. Silly in some instances, but also unlucky. How many times are you going to give away three penalties in a game? Leicester had a little bit of fortune in that matter; fortune that City brainfarted themselves on so many occasions in the box. That won’t happen tomorrow and Arteta knows this will be a very different game.
He was also asked about Ozil and Saliba and with Ozil he played a very straight bat, which I like, because he’s still able to look the player in the eyes and say “hey, this is unfortunate”. Yet the reality is that if Mesut Ozil can’t make a squad of 25 players what chance would he realistically have to play in the first team ever again? 25 players assumes at least two for every position and we’ve got plenty who can play in multiple positions so his days are obviously over at Arsenal. Sadly. We just have to hope somebody can sort the mess out and help him on his was because we’ve clearly moved on. Mesut needs to as well.
One player who will remain at the club for the foreseeable though, although in very odd circumstances, is William Saliba. I think the club might admit – off the record – that they probably balls’d this one up a bit. They’ve judged that he isn’t ready and that he needs adaptation time and last season was a bit truncated for Saliba. Fine. But leaving him out of the Europa League squad was an own goal. The opposition we play in that competition will not be as good as most of the teams he played in the French League last season and so would have represented a perfect opportunity to give him some games and minutes and then if we want to send him back to France in January then so be it. But we left him out, probably because we thought a loan would happen, and now his development is stunted even more because unless he is named in the Premier League squad (highly unlikely), he isn’t playing any football until January. A crazy situation for a guy who we were all pinning so much hopes on and who French football journalists had already said would be some player in future.
I guess ‘we are where we are’ though and we just have to deal with it. The good news is that because of this transfer window the player himself will only have to wait three months before he can go somewhere for game time.
There were some other questions yesterday about Project Big Picture but, given that it was a non-starter from the second it became public, I can’t really be arsed to go into that level of detail. Instead I’ll leave it for today and catch you all tomorrow for a match preview.