Howdy folks and welcome to Thursday, a Thursday in which we have a confirmation that a certain Norwegian has joined the club on loan to help bring some more support in the creative positions to our in-form Arsenal team.
Martin Odegaard confirmed, our attention will now turn to the type of player we are getting, as well as whether he will feature on Saturday evening against a United side who were surprisingly beaten against Sheffield United at home last night. I didn’t watch the game but have seen the goals and I have to say I did see the second goal Sheffield United scored and I haven’t seen such half-hearted defending since gawd knows when. United looked leggy, lethargic and frankly, knackered. I wonder if the Liverpool game had taken it out of some of them and that might have impacted, as they rested a few, but they’d have expected to put in a better display than they did I’m sure.
Some will see this as expected. I’ve seen plenty of people looking at United performances and they seem to have ‘got away with it’ in plenty of games this season, but I am not as sure it is as simple as that, because they have such deadly attacking options that they are always going to have that in their locker to get them out of jail. It doesn’t always work though and that’s why teams that win titles have good defences as well as attacks, because when the glittering array of stars that you have in attack don’t do it, you just have to scab a goal by any means and then close out a clean sheet.
Which brings us back around to The Arsenal, with whom we all love so dearly but I suspect all know that despite the mental season it is, know that even uttering words like “title charge” are fanciful. We are starting to click in attack which is good and we have a midfield that looks balanced in Xhaka and Partey, but as we’ve already seen it only takes one or two injuries and we’re back to some of the wastemen, that don’t take responsibility or don’t have the ability to in a Premier League context. Our squad isn’t deep enough in terms of quality and that is obviously why Arteta has moved for the short term hopeful fix of Odegaard to play either alongside Saka, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Auba (maybe even Pepe can find some form and we include in that group?), or in place of them. If we have an option of Odegaard instead of Willian in the 10 role then great. If he is coming on to play in the wide right position because Saka is tired then fab. If he can rotate on the left then that’s a-ok with me. But what his arrival does do is prove that Arteta knows we don’t have enough to properly compete at the moment and he’s made a move for this season to fix it and will undoubtedly look to correct that in the summer.
Whether that is Odergaard in the long term I am sceptical about. Not because I don’t think he’s got the talent, or because he’ll flop in the Premier League, but mainly because I think the window of opportunity for us to get him in the summer is small. That’s because if he hits it off and is brilliant then Madrid will want him back. There seems to be a global admission amongst football fans that Zidane will be gone in the summer and he’s been the problem for the player and his playing time. If you remove that obstacle and tell a new manager they are getting a youngster who smashed it in La Liga last season and has just spent six months delivering the goods in the Premier League, I don’t see any new manager not saying “yes please, I’ll have him in my team”. The other option in which Madrid don’t want him is that he doesn’t really perform in an Arsenal shirt and so they want to offload, but if that is the case, then it’s unlikely we’ll be taking a longer-term punt on the player.
The noises from the press about him wanting to ‘settle down for a couple of years’ I think are also probably agent spin. Wherever he was going to end up, the agent is hardly going to say “yeah, probably no chance Martin does anything other than go back to Madrid, as that has always been his dream” is he? So to dangle the carrot of “well, you never know, let’s see what happens at the end of the season” was always going to happen. I’m not down on the deal though. I hope that hasn’t come across in today’s musings. I’m just realistic that we need to find another solution for that creative, in-between-the-lines, connector to play with Smith-Rowe or in rotation of him, for next season. So to me this is a short term fix and we just have to hope the player hits the ground running.
Maybe that will be against United at the weekend? It’d be a bit of a baptism of fire that’s for sure, but having him on from the bench sounds like a flavoursome idea to me.
That’s it from me for one day. I’ll catch thee in the morrow when we get Arteta’s take on the new signing and United ahead of Saturday evening’s game.