Morning all and welcome to Friday. The last one in October. How on earth is it nearly November already?
Anyhoo, we should get ourselves a press conference today and that means we’ll get an update on the player availability situation, which Mikel will obviously elaborate on at some stage today. I’m a natural worrier though and so the fact that we haven’t had one of those updates from the medical team on the website has got me chewing my fingernails a bit this morning.
Why no update? Is there a massive problem that they don’t want to elaborate on? Are they keeping a big blow secret? Have they all come down with this mysterious ‘bug’ that forced Ben White off? Oh my god, they’re going to have to field the under-23s, aren’t they?
These are the the highly irrational thoughts that go through my mind but given that Mikel Arteta seems to have been a bit of an unlucky manager in his time at The Arsenal (COVID, injury crises, etc, etc), my mind naturally jumps to the worst case scenario, which is why this morning I’m dealing with an overactive imagination immediately thinking the worst.
There are question marks over White, Mari, Tierney, Odegaard and whilst Mari’s absence would not be as keenly felt as the others, it is still a worry because as we saw earlier in the season, the deputies are a clear climb down from the first XI.
Actually, that’s a little harsh, because Tavares is Tierney’s deputy and he’s been decent so far this season. Decent in terms of his forays going forward, anyway, which means should Tierney not be fit we have an option in a player who will still add much to our attacking prowess over on the left. Which is just as well because so much of what we do comes on that left hand side and when you drop in someone like Kolasinac you see instantly how different our side is.
There’s probably an element of Tavares having earned another start too, because of his good performance against Villa, so should we get that confirmation today from the manager that KT still isn’t ready, we have a player who will be happy and motivated to see if he can replicate what he did last Friday.
I do wonder how those negotiations went in the summer. We all looked at the signing and thought it was a decent backup, but I suspect most of us thought he’d get maybe eight to ten starts this season, perhaps? If he plays tomorrow that’ll be his fourth start in the season (with numerous sub appearances) and we’ve only played 13 games. I wonder if Arsenal did say to him that he’d probably play more and that enticed him? Of course the club, the chance to play in the Premier League, as well as the inevitable pay rise will have helped convince him, but at his age he’ll want to play too and so where he’s at right now is probably a good place for him. Career at Arsenal has started well, getting some minutes, able to showcase his stuff. Honeymoon period has gone well.
But next for him is more regular game time and also doing it against tougher opponents. He’s faced off against West Brom, AFC Wimbledon, Aston Villa. Leicester away will test him defensively and so it’ll be interesting to see what his evolution as an Arsenal player could be tomorrow lunchtime.
Ramsdale is another like that, although he’s established himself a lot quicker. The conversation from Arsenal’s side must have been to come in and compete, but that eventually you’ll get that number one jersey, but I bet Ramsdale wouldn’t have expected to get it so quickly. He’ll back himself, of course, but nobody saw that coming and most of us thought he’d be spending the season as the understudy by now. Arsenal and Arteta wouldn’t have promised him anything, but I suspect he might have set a target to at least get ten starts this season in all competitions. Tomorrow will be start number seven for Ramsdale and where he’s at right now as the clear number one, you have to say that he must be looking at a minimum of 30 for the season. That – assuming it happens – would be a great start to his career and as we’ve already seen, he’s making a big impact in terms of his saves and presence too.
It’s funny how quickly things change in a season. August was just a couple of months ago and in that month we wondered just how many appearances some of these fringe players would get, yet here we are knocking on the door of November and Ramsdale, Tavares and also Lokonga have all played a big part in our season already. Even with the reduction in the number of games we can already see how important the whole squad is. But not only that, we can all see already how important it is to keep the whole squad happy, because there are a lot of games to play, even when you’re only in three competitions. But we have young players getting valuable minutes, players like Maitland-Niles also getting minutes, Elneny, Holding, Nketiah, Martinelli, etc. If any are called upon it’s not as if they’ve been in the wilderness so far this season and so all should be able to put in a performance. IN fact if you think about some of the best players in our recent games, we’ve had a great performance from Maitland-Niles on Tuesday, a great performance the previous Friday from Lacazette, we’ve seen Tavares step up too, it’s all positive for when those inevitable bumps and bruises (or red cards) pop up.
There’s a lot to be positive about right now. Of course that could all go in the bin if Arsenal get spanked by Leicester tomorrow, but all I’m saying right now is that we should be pleased with how the whole squad – not just the first XI – is shaping up.
Catch you all tomorrow with a match preview.