How is it Friday already? How has this come around so quickly? Feels like only yesterday I was starting to stress about a double header against a difficult Southampton side that engage in high-press football and yet here we are, what feels like a few blinks of an eye later, with that game consigned to memory and the nerves of a big game at home to Man United tomorrow late afternoon now looms on the horizon.
We get very little time to bask in the glory of victory these days, do we? I mean, I basked in the glory of that Chelski win for weeks, yet here it is barely 48 hours until all attention turns to the next game. It is relentless. Just imagine what it is like for the players and all that travel.
And added to that the manager having to do press conferences; I just wonder if he has one of those fold out sofa beds in his office that he uses when the schedule is as hectic as it is at the moment.
But he has at least given us some thoughts ahead of the game and he spoke of the challenges the team has right now, with injuries and other problems of absence. It appears Aubameyang is a doubt and I suspect that the player won’t be available for this weekend. The rumours are that he travelled abroad to see his family and sort out problems but with UK quarantine rules in place, that could mean a period of isolation for our captain, which if true probably means he is missing a while longer. Arteta wouldn’t go into detail on that but my guess is that we won’t be seeing Auba until at least next weekend.
It is a blow that will compound our misery if we are also missing Smith-Rowe as well at the weekend too. The youngster came off with muscular tightness and if he hasn’t recovered sufficiently then it really does leave Arteta in a quandry on what to do for that number 10 slot. Odegaard has apparently been training really well and at 22 he will be very hungry to get on that pitch and get minutes as much as possible, but Arteta himself said that the player’s lack of playing time means they need to make a judgement call on him for this weekend. I suspect in an ideal world Smith-Rowe would start with Odegaard getting on the pitch as a sub for the second half but with the option option being Willian in that central role, I don’t think i’m the only Gooner crossing just about everything I can in hope that our answer for the starting XI on Saturday is to play the Brazilian in there.
No. Thank. You.
But that’s not our only challenge for Saturday it seems. Tierney continues to be assessed and that will be a big blow if he isn’t available. As we’ve all seen this season he is by far and away our best option at left back, his ability to deliver good balls from the left and go beyond his man at will were a key feature in our revival of form over the Christmas period and beyond, so whilst we’ve just about coped without him since he was absent for the Palace game, we have to pray he’s fit enough for United.
But we don’t want to use him if we’re just going to lose him straight after. I hope the lessons learned from the North London Derby and Thomas Partey are ones that the manager and his coaching staff are acutely aware of when they make a decision on the Scotsman.
It’s the same with Partey too. He came off with what looked like cramp and with a player just playing himself back into fitness having been out for most of the season so far, whilst it looked like it was something he’d have shaken off by today, we can’t afford to be losing him again for any prolonged period of time. Give me Partey for Wolves, Villa and Leeds ahead of losing him and playing him tomorrow against United, no matter how terrible our midfield might look without him. Again, Arteta said he will have to see how he performs in training yesterday and assuming he’s ok today as well then I’d hope he’s fit to play.
Inevitably, with it being January n’ all, the manager was also asked about transfers but rather than the expected incomings, the talk turned to outgoings and specifically that of Nelson, Maitland-Niles and Mustafi. Arteta admitted they’d consider the situation of all of those players but for the first two I think Arsenal are in the driving seat for a change I think. We are at the end of the window and there will be Premier League teams looking to make changes in their playing staff will be looking for a quick fix and two players with Premier League experience are assets. West Ham have just paid the loan fee and wages that they didn’t want to for Lingard because they know what they need and they know United have the strongest hand. Man United don’t need to offload the player even though he hasn’t played much football. It is the same with Reiss but more so with Ainsley. With Tierney out injured we have Cedric and that’s about it. We can’t be playing Saka at full back with the form he’s in higher up the pitch, so unless a club comes in and offers proper money for a transfer, or gives a decent enough loan fee and pays all the wages, I can’t see those two moving on.
It is the position we should always be in with players but as we know our selling ability has been shoddy at best over the last five years. Maybe the tide can start turning. I certainly hope so.
The other final bit of news i’ll touch on is Lucas Torreira, who isn’t getting minutes at Atletico Madrid and if you gave him the choice he probably might prefer being back here to be honest. He surely would have played more minutes and might have even taken the minutes from Elneny. Arteta said they are monitoring but Arsenal will have a deal for the season in place for Torreira to stay and unless there is a clause based on guaranteed minutes (highly doubtful) then it simply isn’t in the power of Arsenal to pull him out and send him to Monaco on loan I don’t think. Now, if Monaco come along and offer to purchase the player, that might be a different story, but as it stands I can’t see him going anywhere and that’s kind of what Arteta hinted at too.
That’s it for another Friday from me. You have a good one and I’ll be back tomorrow for a match preview.