No messing around from Arteta yesterday, was there? What I mean by that was he dropped a press conference in the morning following what will have been a late night on the Wednesday. I left pretty much after the final whistle on Wednesday and I got home at half 12, so they must have got in about 2am and there he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to speak to the assembled media about the game on Saturday lunchtime.
I guess the difference is that he had a more luxurious commute home than I did driving back, but as well as that he probably had little choice, because the team were probably travelling up this morning at the latest and so giving it another day before a press conference probably wasn’t the best prep.
When I think about the fact the players probably had Thursday off given a late arrival back in to London on Wednesday, then travelling up today, you can understand why perhaps it was better to keep some on the pitch for longer. Right now it is about getting fitness back up to speed and so additional minutes for the likes of Saka, Odegaard, Aubameyang, Xhaka, etc, can only be a good thing. Of course in his press conference yesterday Mikel admitted that Saka took a knock and so will have to be assessed, so we have to just cross fingers that he is ok for tomorrow.
Because let’s face it, it’ll be difficult enough as it is with a fully fit squad, so the idea that we’d go up to the home of the champions without arguably our best player, doesn’t bear thinking about. Of course it is sure to happen though, because it seems like every time we step on to the pitch as a team somebody goes down, or catches COVID, so I’ve just fully convinced myself that Saka will have his leg in a cast today and probably will never play football again.
I kid, I kid, of course. He’s a robust lad and hopefully he can shake it off. And at least we appear to be seeing the end of this weird start of season injury crisis, as the manager confirmed yesterday that Gabriel is now back in training and had a few sessions. Personally I think a game like tomorrow’s is a bit of a write off and so there’s no point risking anyone, but if we can have him, Partey, White and even Hector fit if he doesn’t make a move before deadline day, then we’ll be quite a different animal to the one that was beaten at Brentford on the opening game of the season. But tomorrow’s game still feels a stretch too far. We just don’t beat Man City. At this stage you wonder if we ever will.
I thought it was interesting he was specifically asked about the right back position and gave the expected answer of the fact we have four options there, but he talked about the form of the players and that determining who plays. That’s a slight worry but I really do hope he has a look at Ainsley for this weekend. I’m not sure he will, but he gave him a game on Wednesday and maybe that’s a hint that there may be the possibility of a reconciliation and some game time for the player. If you are talking about players on form then you can’t look at either of Cedric or Chambers. Both were poor in their respective league starts and if Hector isn’t fit yet, then surely that means it’s time for Ainsley to have a shot at right back? More on that tomorrow as I ponder the line up and the unenviable task of us facing Man City.
He was asked a number of questions on possible incomings and outgoings and he left the door ajar on most situations, but thankfully the Willian one was one in which he seemed as obvious he could be without admitting that the guy is toast. He basically said ‘we’re talking to his agent to find something’ which is pretty obvious that he’s gone. Now it’ll be about how much of a clean up job needs to be done from the mess that both Arteta and Edu made by signing the player in the first place. He did say that he remains an Arsenal player until he’s not and that he will try to help, but in reality we know that it was just the kind of hollow words that you say when you know a player is basically gone. None of us will shed a tear for what has been an unmitigated disaster of a signing, which is all the more impressive, when you consider that we didn’t get a fee for the guy.
He was also asked about Aubameyang and whilst he said “he’s our player” I wasn’t really that convinced that it was as unequivocal as it could have been. Thankfully the news emerged just a few hours later that a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo is very much ‘on’ and whilst the prospect of him playing for City is potentially quite scary, the fact that we could keep hold of Auba is good, because I don’t think an Arsenal team without him this season is going to have enough. We can talk about new signings but unless it is somebody from the Premier League we just can’t afford to have a guy spending six months acclimatising to the league. There has been some rumblings that Juve want Auba to replace Ronaldo, but I hope if that is true we fend it off, because we’re too close to the end of the window for that to be a good idea and we’d only end up paying a kings ransom to get a new player in. Remember when we nearly got Thomas Lemar for £90million? Or when Liverpool paid £35million for Andy Carroll? There is absolutely no point in offloading Auba on deadline day unless the money is so ridiculous that we simply can’t say ‘no’. So if Juve come in and say they’ll give us £50million for him, then you have to think about it. But unless you’re talking that kind of silly money then I just don’t see it happening.
So we have what we have and we should focus on getting the best from both Auba and Laca. That’s it. Done. If we can get more movement and put them in the right positions like they were on Wednesday night, then we’re sure to get more goals. That has to be the hope right now.
Right, that’s yer lot from me for today, so I’ll catch you all tomorrow with a match preview of the…gulp…Man City game.
See ya later peeps.