Morning folks. Another Monday comes rolling around but unlike most Monday’s, this one has the hyperbole of being labelled ‘Transfer Deadline Day’, which means Sky Sports go nuts all wearing silly yellow ties and dresses, they talk a little faster on Sky Sports News, they inject some kind of faux urgency into a day that is essentially the same as every other day in the transfer window, except for some clubs it is the last chance saloon to do something, or they stick with what they’ve got on the playing staff.
Usually it is us that are looking at making some kind of move and usually it is a day for which clubs pay over the top for players in a desperate attempt to get somebody in. But it is difficult because you leave the selling club with no options to bring in a replacement. So whilst I think we look like we should be done in terms of our incomings for this window, we could still probably see one or two exits, perhaps.
The good thing is that any exits happening are doing so on our terms. That means we hold the cards and for a change we should be the ones playing hard ball. There are rumours that Leicester want Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Apparently they are looking for a loan to buy option, or even a buy option, which I think is probably fine for us given the lack of game time he’s been getting. But I tell you what, with two years left on his deal this summer, we should be telling Leicester that they need to cough up big cash for him. COVID depressed market or not, he is an England international, which means they should remember just how much they got for Maguire and Chilwell, then be prepared to cough up some proper cash. You want a loan deal? Fine, we’re not in the market to strengthen a team who could feasibly be a rival if we can keep our good run of form going, so we’ll take a fat loan fee and all of his wages paid thanks. You want him on a permanent deal? That’s cool. North of £40million should do it.
We’ve seen teams like Leicester play hard ball with clubs, so now it is our turn to dish it back, so to speak.
There’s also noises about Reiss Nelson for a loan, which makes more sense in terms of getting game time given he doesn’t make the squad much these days, plus there’s a few noises about Eddie and also Joe Willock, but I wouldn’t expect all of that business to be done today. It is one thing to give players minutes because we have a bloated squad, but it is another one to offload a load of players so that we suddenly look a little bare if there is a bit of an injury crisis. So I suspect if anything happens today it will be a loan deal for one and maybe a maximum of two, unless a club comes in and offers silly money for a player that we just can’t refuse.
And that’s how it should be. We have done our business I think, we could get a left back in, but I suspect it is unlikely and we also have cover in that position with Cedric or at worst Saka (I say that because we want him at the sharper end of the pitch with his form right now). So I think we should be able to sit a little more comfortably today and see what unfolds.
What we’ll also get at some stage today is a press conference with Mikel I suspect. He will take to Zoom to talk to the press ahead of the game away to Wolves tomorrow and whilst I understand why the press will probably ask lots of questions about the transfer market in terms of incomings and outgoings, what I think most of us are probably more concerned with is the availability of some of our players. Tierney has now been missing for the two Southampton games, the Man United game and also the Palace game before that. He played against Newcastle but his muscle injury appears to be hampering him a bit so my hope is that he is available for tomorrow night. I hope that Saturday’s absence was just a precaution because the longer we get little information about the extent of his injury, the more you start to worry that it ends up being a Rosicky-style injury that nobody really understands but suddenly he’s out for quite a lengthy period of time.
Then there’s the question of Saka. The hope is that his was also a precaution with the view to him resting in order to play tomorrow and with Aubameyang out we really could have done with him on that right hand side and maybe Pepe on the left. But whether tomorrow night comes too soon we’ll only find out when Mikel sits in front of the mics in a bit. I hope he’s fine, Tierney too, whilst in midfield I hope that Arteta can say nice things about the Xhaka-Partey partnership that is developing. The two have looked good together and Partey completed 90 minutes against United on Saturday. That is good news but there is part of me that is wondering whether Arteta rotates a little bit because of the time the player has been out. Can he complete another 90 minutes so soon after this one? Maybe. But maybe Arteta will shuffle is pack a little.
That might also mean a possibility of a start for Odegaard and whilst Smith-Rowe has done nothing to be dropped, it would feel more like a management of him if Odegaard was to start tomorrow evening. The manager has already spoken of the need to look after Emile, as well as the fact that he’s had some soreness in his legs after playing so much football for the first team of late, so I have a sneaky suspicion that we might see Odegaard from the off against Wolves. Let’s look out for any hints of Mikel talking him up in his press conference.
So it could be a busy day of Arsenal news. Let’s see if that is the case.
Catch you all tomorrow.