If ever you wanted an example as to why I do not watch international football during the season, it’s upon hearing the goalscorers for England’s game last night were Harry’s Maguire and Kane. No thank you. I’m not bringing myself to cheer for one jailbird and b*llock kicker, or one perennial diver who plays for the scum. Na-uh. No way. Nope.
Still, it’s over now. There’ll be no more internationals until this season is finished and that means we can focus on watching Arsenal limp over the line in 10th place come May. Can’t wait.
We still have the Europa League, but as I’ve already mentioned a few times (and you are probably bored reading it, so sorry about that), for me the league is done and the games in the league are all pre-amble until we play our Europa League ties. Our next one of which is on Tuesday next week and I have to tell you I’m intrigued already as to how Arteta is going to line up his Arsenal side against Liverpool. If we had less time to prepare for Slavia Prague then I’d be ‘all-in’ on the rotation camp, but with there being a solid five days until that game after we’ve played Liverpool, there is probably some merit in getting the boys back together from international football and playing the strongest possible team.
Whether or not that strongest team is available, or whether or not he is forced in to changes through injury, will be the real crux of the line up discussion on Saturday evening I suspect. With Bukayo having missed the last round of England matches it feels like he will probably be a doubt, but then we have to take in to consideration the prep time some players will have had in terms of their return to the club.
Ivory Coast played on Tuesday so I’d expect Pepe to be back in the UK today, which means he’ll have time to get back in to the swing of things with a session tomorrow, whereas Ghana played on Sunday so Partey will have already have been back. Gabon played on Monday so Auba is back too and we’ve all seen his new whacky haircut. Hopefully the change of his appearance can result in a change in the outcome of his performances in an Arsenal shirt. There have been a few people down on Auba of late and I must admit to being a little surprised with the short-termism with which fans seem to view players these days. I don’t want to open up old wounds but Mesut Ozil is widely derided by many Arsenal fans as being a flop. That’s just weird to me. Yes we should have offloaded a few years ago, yes he wasn’t the player we signed, but people seemed to have forgotten the player we did sign and the chance creation metrics he provided in the first half of his career at The Arsenal. That seems to have been consigned to beyond memory and I’ve seen people say he’s the worst signing pound-for-pound that we’ve ever had. Utter nonsense.
It’s the same with Aubameyang. I’ve seen people say that he should be sold in the summer, that he’s lost it, etc, etc, blah, blah. The man has 14 goals in 31 appearances for us. That’s just under a goal every two games. There are those that might point to a hat-trick at Leeds as something which is skewing the figures, but ultimately he got the goals that won us that game and ultimately, with a very obvious dip in form caused by the horrible run in the first half of the season – like most players had – he has been fine this season for chunks. He’s not a high touch player, he’s a goalscorer and when we’ve had the best three behind him and in form he’s looked fine to me. But that hasn’t happened very often. I’ve seen people reference the West Ham game as a decline but come on folks, we all know he’s never looked good on the right and he had a bad game on the left. But we’ve had years of him banging in goals and if he’s given the right environment and played centrally then he’s going to continue to score goals for us regularly. Lacazette, by comparison, has 13 goals in 34 games and three of those were penalties. Yet I am not hearing people clamor for his exit as much as Auba right now.
It’s just recency bias. Lacazette was superb against West Ham and has put in some decent games for us, but he’s also put in some stinkers. The North London Derby may look good on paper for him as he scored, but it was a penalty and his overall play aside from that was pretty poor. So whilst I understand the frustration with Aubameyang, those people calling for an exit for him this summer probably need to have a little rethink, I suspect. Setting aside the recent contract renewal, we have to get Lacazette out and generate some proper cash and we need to keep playing Auba centrally. That’s that and if Arteta continues with the front line of creative players he has been doing since the turn of the year then we will create more chances and Aubameyang will get more goals. Guaranteed.
Not a lot else happening right now so I think i’ll stop it here and catch you tomorrow with some more musings.