Happy Tuesday folks. Well, as happy as it can be when you’re locked away at home under lockdown, or a variant of depending on where you live, with Arsenal also losing games adding to the general malaise. And drama. Let’s not forget drama, because it doesn’t seem to be a day going by without there being some kind of nonsense going on at The Arsenal.
The latest is around William Saliba, who appears to have given another interview in France and opened up again over his short spell as an Arsenal player so far. The bit that most of the UK press are talking about is his “I was only given two games” stuff, but there is also parts in there where he talks about not being able to train, about training alone (of his own choice) and of his difficulties.
I find it hard to assess these types of interviews because when they are conducted in a language you don’t find native to yourself there is always room for ambiguity unfortunately. So it feels churlish of me to just dismiss his comments as silly and uncalled for, when I don’t really have the proper context. Equally though, the volume of interviews he seems to be doing – given he’s been back in France about six weeks – are a little concerning. As my ol’ mate Giles has said on Twitter, you’d think that this is where his agent needs to be earning his fees here, because the agent should be guiding the player and protecting him from all of this line of questioning. I’m no Casino Expert, but if I was a better man I’d suggest his agent will be having a word to tell him that perhaps it would be better to just stop giving interviews, let his football do the talking, or just tell the press not to go down the contentious line of questioning about Arsenal as it could cause him issues further down the line.
Of course the flip side to this coin could be that the agent wouldn’t mind a nice big fat transfer fee in the summer if Saliba wants out of Arsenal. If that is the case and the player did have himself burned by the series of unfortunate events that have happened over the last year or so, in a way I would kind of understand, because we did bugger up. Not getting a loan deal because of paperwork was poor. Not even registering for the Europa League squad when that would certainly have been better than giving any minutes to the likes of Mustafi, was also poor. And to get him playing some tin-pot lower league trophy as his return to fitness was also poor. In fact the only good bit of work Arsenal did with Saliba was to get that loan deal sorted out as soon as the January window opened up. It has enabled him to get back up and playing and he’s also established himself as a key player at Nice. That’s also why he is getting interviews, because people are so impressed and want to hear from him.
And that’s why I am hoping that the frequency of these interviews can die down and Arteta and Arsenal don’t get too cheesed off, because it feels like if the player can get the rest of this season with game time ticked off his list, he will be a valuable asset to us next season. We will certainly need another centre half when Luiz goes and with Chambers nowhere near the first XI it seems, there will be slots available for him to get a lot of game time. But if he keeps doing these interviews and they keep getting progressively worse in terms of the apparent relationship between player and club/manager, then we might end up in a situation where the club thinks it is not worth the hassle and will look to move him on in the summer, meaning yet another season for a centre half.
We will have enough on our plate in the summer to deal with as it is, so having to find another central defender should be avoided if at all possible. David Ornstein confirmed yesterday that the club are looking for a young understudy to Kieran Tierney and that is music to my ears. Getting an ageing left back made my heart – yours too probably – sink as we were once again going down a well trodden and dimly lit path. But this sounds like Arsenal realise the folly of their ways (fingers crossed) and so hopefully we’ll be better at addressing some issues when this dreadful season is over.
There’ll also be questions over central midfield and attack, such is the need for change at the Arsenal, with Ceballos going back and surely we’ll be looking to offload Lacazette and maybe even Eddie. So Arsenal need to be able to keep relationships sweet like Saliba, but only to a certain extent, because there will come a point in which the player has said too much and done too much, for a return to seem feasible.
Anyhoo, let’s not dwell on that too much, because we’ve still got more of this wretched season to endure before those types of worries will come to the forefront of our minds. At least it appears that Thomas Partey’s injury that forced him off for the last 15 minutes against Aston Villa was a precautionary one. Mikel didn’t say that in the aftermath of the game, only that it was muscular, so I wonder whether Partey will be ok to play with a full week under his belt and maybe even a couple of training sessions towards the end of the week. I hope so. I am just praying that we see those training pictures with Partey and maybe even Tierney back in training. We need it. Both players bring so much to this Arsenal team so having them back will be the kind of boost we will need against a high intensity Leeds side who have just come off the back of an impressive win at home to Palace.
So we wait in hope for some more good news re: player fitness coming out, as well as pictures proving the point, before we go again next weekend.
See you in the morrow.