Morning all. How are we all doing today?
We’re over halfway, there is that. This time next week it’ll all be about the Arsenal build up and we can put this dreaded international break to bed. But let’s try to take something positive from what is unfolded in front of our eyes, which is that Emile Smith Rowe made his international debut yesterday and picked up a cap for a 15 minute cameo replacing Raheem Sterling yesterday.
I am certainly no fan of international football, but you can’t be anything but pleased for the lad who, let’s be honest, must be buzzing and proud to have represented his country at such a young age. A big day for his family and himself too so congrats to him. My hope is that the knock on effect of this is that he comes back an inch or two taller mentally; if you can say you’re an England international it only adds to the confirmation that you belong at the top of the game and Emile has been showing that this season so far. He’s in a rich vein of form and we need that to continue for months and years if we’re going to hit the objectives that are being placed on our young Arsenal team.
The double good news – again from a purely Arsenal fan bias – is that it doesn’t look like Bukayo Saka got on the pitch against Albania and that means he has been able to rest up those young legs. I suspect he’ll play some part in the next game on Tuesday but if he does as a sub and like Emile just gets 15 minutes against San Marino on Monday, that would be ace. I suspect Southgate will rotate a lot of players on Monday because San Marino will pose little threat, which may mean Bukayo starts, but even if that is the case, he’ll only have played one game this weekend and that’s kind of ok by me to be honest. It means he can return to Arsenal on the Tuesday/Wednesday and get a good few days before he plays again.
Aubameyang has posted an image of him scoring a penalty for Gabon and so it seems like he’s played some minutes during this break. I always find it weird when I see his footage because here’s a guy used to playing at elite level, yet when he plays for his national team he plays in front of half full crowds and is never going to get to a World Cup. Such a fantastic player with a great career and bagged goals everywhere, yet he’ll never see the international stage. Still, the upside is that next winter when they play the most corrupt World Cup you have ever heard of, he’ll be resting at home, so that’s something I guess.
The Premier League have announced their response to this horrendous winter World Cup by declaring the fixture schedule next season, which is utterly mad when you think about how much is going to be crammed in to 10 months. We start a week earlier in August, we finish a week later in May, as well as having a four week international tournament. There is going to be all of the cup games too, so I suspect we’re going to basically see midweek football every week between the start and finish of that season. It will put massive strain on the players, mean that squads will need to be massive and if Arsenal do manage to get in to European competition, we’ll be looking at need to tap in to the younger players a lot more than we would have done this season even if we did have European football this season. It is utterly farcical that this is happening and the people who run our game domestically and internationally should be utterly ashamed of their avarice.
There’s Also going to be a lot of work needed at Arsenal too, because there will be a fair few players leaving again next summer too, so more will need to step in to the void. Lacazette will surely be off, Elneny and Chambers will be gone I would have thought. Then we have Maitland-Niles, who will have one year left on his deal and we’ll have to look at recouping some money. Leno too. Then you have Eddie leaving on a free but you can argue that Balogun fills that void. But it feels like Arsenal will need to populate their team with a big squad of decent players – not just kids who have never played for the first team – just to be able to keep up with the schedule.
Of course I am worrying about that when even this season is still in its infancy, but the club will surely have to do the same too. We can’t just focus on this season and ignore what’s coming down the line. That’s how you blink and realise that you’re behind the curve and you’ve dropped down the league. The eternal struggle for the big clubs is to win now whilst also have a clear plan on the future sustainability of success at the club. So Arsenal and the team working behind the scenes are, I hope, already looking at what is coming along further down the line. They have made all of the right moves with the young squad and the decisions made last summer is paying off, we just have to hope they can replicate that over the next year or so.
Right, that’s enough worry for one day, I’m off for a run, a bit of shopping followed by a booze session with friends in Richmond. You have yourselves a grand ol’ Saturday and I’ll catch thee in the morrow.