I had a dream last night that we went to Anfield and picked up a 1-1 draw. You know those dreams when you wake up and you’re like “ahh that’s great” then you realise that it never actually happened? Yeah, one of those. I don’t get them very often – last time was when I was about nine and I dreamed I had a WWF wrestling game on my Game Boy, only to realise when I woke up and rushed to the handheld console, that I never owned such a thing. Quite a come down.
I don’t know if my subconscious is also trying to manage my expectations too though, because a 1-1 draw away to Liverpool is hardly a rip-roaring rollercoaster ride, is it? I mean don’t get me wrong, I’d bite yer arm off for it right now as we stand, because it’ll maintain that unbeaten run, but in reality it would hardly be a mega statement by the team. Not like winning 2-0 or 3-0 up there would be.
Again, my subconscious probably kicked in and thought “nah, he’ll never buy that, he’ll know it’s a dream, so got to make it realistic”, hence the 1-1. Can’t even tell you who scored. Gets all blurry the more I try to think of it.
Back in the real world and there’s still little going on, other than Folarin Balogun scoring for the under-21s yesterday against the Czech Republic. They won 3-0, he scored the third, which prompted Lee Carsley to say he needs to be playing proper football, rather than the under-23s stuff. He’s spot on by the way. It seems a bit silly that we are in a position that Balogun has barely featured at all for us this season. He is smashing it at the UNder-23s and has clearly evolved beyond that level and you’d have to think he’d be getting more game time if we were in more competitions.
I think he’d certainly have played in some Europa games and he won’t also have played in that game at West Brom if Arteta had more matches to prioritise, but alas here we are, in the middle of November, and he’s had just a few paltry minutes for the first team. I wonder if the plan was to give him more minutes in the League Cup, but because of the disastrous start Arteta has had to field stronger teams to build momentum? If that’s the case I understand, but as I’ve already stated in previous blogs, I have no idea why minutes are being prioritised for Eddie Nketiah. Eddie won’t sign a new deal, he can negotiate to go abroad in January and in the summer he can negotiate with other clubs in England. And the second he has an agreement with another club he’s going to want to protect himself and his value. So as it stands we have ourselves a player whose value we are fattening up, only to get no value from him at all, other than a potential nominal tribunal fee. There’s a good explanation about how that works here.
If Eddie signs with an overseas club in January then his mind is elsewhere and surely there is no way Arteta will want to be playing him for us? If he signs for a club in England or the UK, then that’ll happen in the summer, but nobody can tell me he’ll not be negotiating the details from early next year. And as soon as that’s done then he’ll also be wanting to protect himself for his new club, so he can’t play. So what we have done is play a guy who we will only get a few months out of, instead of a guy who the England-Under21sHead Coach is saying is good enough for top flight football.
I can only assume a loan is in the offing for Balogun in January, because the lack of game time this side of Christmas can’t be allowed to go on. And the fact that most competitions get serious after Christmas means that his game time will probably be all the more restricted.
I don’t want to go too ‘Debbie Downer’ at a time in the season where we are playing well and on form, but the way the situation between these two players has been handled has been shocking. Last January we should have at minimum sent Eddie on loan, yet we kept him around to kick his heels most of the second part of the season. If we’d have sent him on loan it would have given Balogun more minutes as an understudy last year and he might be further along his path. We might also have been able to sell Eddie on this summer just gone, if we’d have seen him play regularly in the Premier League for a team. So For me this whole situation has become quite messy when there have been three or four instances where we could have avoided said mess.
The only other bit of news kicking around is Matteo Guendouzi, who is in the French national squad and has said he doesn’t really want to return to the Arsenal. I’ve got no problem with that really. I thought he was a decent, but not amazing, player and his character has been called in to question on numerous occasions. The only regret I might have will come in the summer when Marseille might get a French international footballer for £10million, which is a steal really when you think about it. I just hope there was a way that Arsenal got a sell on clause to garner some potential future revenue from him, but in reality I doubt it. European teams plead poverty in the summer, but in a couple of years if Guendouzi kicks on they’ll be the first team to want the earth for a player who, frankly, has acted like a spoilt brat at times.
He’s in the past though, we look to the future, and hopefully we can hurry through this dragging international break as quickly as possible. I might just have the football on in the background though – England I mean – just on the off chance we see Smith Rowe make his England debut. That’d be nice for him.
Catch you all tomorrow.