Mikel obviously wanted a weekend without Arsenal as well after that snoozefest on Thursday night, because he did his pre match presser then and yesterday we got the video and transcription on the official site ahead of the game on Monday night against Newcastle.
The good news is that Kieran Tierney isn’t going to be out for any prolonged period of time and fingers crossed we could potentially see him back on Monday. Unfortunately the performance of Maitland-Niles made our situation at left back seem more perilous than it actually is and there have been a few articles written about how Arsenal really need to find themselves another option other than KT; just for when the main man is injured of course.
But whilst I’ll admit that Ainsley dropped a stinker of a performance, what I would say is that we did see him put in some very good displays in the cup and I still think he could do a decent enough job there. Certainly until the end of the season if called upon. I’m not his biggest fan as a full back, but he’s also not played many games of late and not having that kind of rhythm will also have an impact on a player, so if something did happen to KT and we lost him for a number of matches, I don’t think we’d get that kind of performance from Maitland-Niles every week.
Arteta spoke about the appointment of Richard Garlick to replace Huss Fahmy and how it is an important link in the chain. I wouldn’t really expect him to say anything negative but I do think he’ll probably be happy that the appointment is in the post. We have all been wondering just who has been involved in some of the admin at the club and it has felt like it has fallen to a small number of people for a club our size. If we had the right person being involved in the paperwork in the summer, would the Saliba loan situation have been sorted out and not become such of a fiasco, I wonder?
Maybe not, but if this new guy coming in can take away a bit of the burden from Arteta then I’m all for it, because we need the manager to manage the first team, not the whole club. Hopefully when Garlick is settled Arteta can feel happier and more focused on the football side.
Back to the football side and Arteta also gave a squad update, saying Partey has come through the Palace game unscathed and should be ok for Monday. That’s good news because as Arteta pointed out he’s essentially been injured for the best part of four months this season. He’s missed most of the season and the club definitely have to be careful with him. But with half an hour under his belt the temptation has to be to start him from the off on Monday. Let’s see if an in form Xhaka and returning Partey can give us more in midfield than we’ve had throughout this season.
The other main news is that Pablo Mari is out for a few games with a calf problem and you have to feel for the player. He’s spent a fair bit of time injured since joining us and was just getting to the point at which he was finding some form, but now he’s got to sit it out and if Gabriel comes back in (who Mikel confirmed is now fully fit) and plays well, he could find himself having to wait for another opportunity for longer than the few games he is out for.
That’s competitive top flight professional football though, I guess, and from our perspective as fans what we want to see is players able to slot in quickly. Central defence has always been a placed we’ve been stocked with this season and so that isn’t really a worry point as much as, say, Bernd Leno picking up a long term injury.
In terms of the opponents Arteta was full of praise for Steve Bruce as usual and we never really got any kind of insight in to how he is going to approach the game and the opponent. That’s the problem we get with the English media unfortunately; we get limp questions that don’t really ever go into any detail about how managers will adapt tactically to the way their opponent plays. So yesterday we had “do you feel for Steve Bruce after a bad run of form?” and “what does it take to get through a difficult period?”. I mean those are easy slam dunk questions to ask. How about asking how his team gets around a low block side like Newcastle and what he could do differently on Monday from Thursday night? Surely that would at least elicit more of a response linked to the football than just firing platitudes and empathy in the way of an opposing manager?
Anyway, the presser is done now, we learned little about the approach to the game, but hopefully some bits and bobs will come out over the next couple of days.
I’m off for a run in the cold rain. Happy days.
Catch you peeps tomorrow.