Morning folks. Here comes international break Thursday and with it a whole heap of…well…not a lot, really.
The best Arsenal scraps we have to feed off are an under-23s game in which Chambers and Saliba played, as well as Gareth Southgate asking if Bukayo Saka is ok after the defeat to Villa. BUkayo broke down in tears, asked what was going wrong with his life and why he couldn’t have good things, then drove a golf buggy off a cliff whilst on fire in response.
He’s expected to be fit to make the England squad for this set of games though, so Gareth is ok with it.
The UNder-23s game against Gillingham probably has more interest to us because it included two players we should be looking at as first teamers. Apparently both did ok in the FA Shield/Vase/Trinket Trophy, or whatever sponsor it has these days, as we progressed on penalties after a 1-1 draw. For Chambers it is minutes under his belt and that can only be a good thing. He’s been out for a long time and that means he’ll need a number of matches before he can even make a match day squad I’d expect, but at least we have the first positive signs and hopefully we can see him in December at some stage.
I’ve always been a fan of Chambers. I don’t think he is blessed with the most pace in the world but I think he is a better ‘no-nonsense’ defender than Holding. I also think he’s a little quicker than Holding too and that is also a positive attribute when you think of the pace of Premier League attackers. Of course it will take him some time to adjust and we will probably even see some rusty games even when he is deemed fit enough to re-join the first team squad, but if it benefits us for the period after Christmas then I’m all for it.
The Saliba situation is a little more complex, because even if he was ready in Arteta’s eyes we still wouldn’t be able to play him in the Europa League, which is where you’d think he’d be given more chances. So instead this competition is pretty much the only competition he can get any kind of meaningful game time in. At least Gillingham played some relatively senior players and this competition will probably include another opposition like that in the next round. Apparently the young Frenchman did ok, had a decent enough game but wasn’t amazing, but regardless of that we have to look at the situation he’s in. We’re two months in to the season and that was his first competitive game. It doesn’t matter if you are 19 or 29 years old, match fitness is important and he will have been training with the first team and that’s it.
We know that Arteta doesn’t think he’s ready and I get that, but when you see some of the defending that we’ve witnessed over the last 18-24 months, I do struggle to see how he could be any worse than some of the player performances we’ve seen. My hope is that January brings about an opportunity to offload some players and perhaps either work Saliba back into our squad selection, or give him a loan that will guarantee him game time for the remainder of the season. Whether that is back in France or in this country I don’t know, but we don’t really want this completely fudged situation with him to go beyond January.
I hope the club are even now talking to clubs about getting a deal done as soon as possible because he needs lots of minutes as soon as we can get them. So find a club willing to pay penalties if he doesn’t get ‘x’ amount of games before this season is finished. Then let’s have him ready for next season because there will be a bit of a centre half exodus with Mustafi, Sokratis and Luiz all out of contract. So to my mind that is what we have to be aiming for. We need a ready-made defender good enough to come in and be ready to integrate straight away. And people saying that the French Ligue Un might not give him that, should also remember where Gabriel was plying his trade last season, so that is what we want to have replicated for Saliba.
That’s it from me today. Not a lot going on but hopefully we don’t get too much bad news re: injuries over the coming days.
More rambling thoughts tomorrow.