Happy Thursday folks. Hope you are well?
Only two bits of news worth talking about in my eyes today and given that Arteta is not due to meet the press until tomorrow (my bad, I thought it would have been today), we won’t really get too much of an update on the fitness of many of the returning players from international duty. So we must wait on tenterhooks until then. Do you know I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a ‘tenterhook’? Thought you’d be interesting in knowing. But anyway, yes, we’ve got no team news until tomorrow so we’re waiting on those things for which I have no real frame of reference.
Or do we? Because our ol’ friend Charles Watts from Goal put a tweet up yesterday saying that although there had been fears that Aubameyang had returned amidst rumours of injury, in fact what we now know via Charles is that there are little concerns. Apparently the return was pre-arranged with Gabonese National Team and Aba returned a week early so he could be fit for the game this weekend. I’ve always said I liked those Gabonese.
I guess from their perspective it makes sense. He is head and shoulders the best player in their country and they have an AFCON looming. He scored in their recent game and at the moment at his age and in the position he is playing, I suspect both club and country are both in agreement that they don’t want him overloaded. Arsenal are only playing once a week at the moment and when we’ve been playing twice in the League Cup he hasn’t really featured – not since the first round anyway – and so by Gabon returning him to Arsenal earlier it means he has had a full week of recuperation ahead of that game at Anfield. It makes perfect sense if you think about it; he played against Watford weekend before last, he played this weekend just gone for Gabon, he’ll play for Arsenal this weekend, then it’s the weekend after against Newcastle. Once a week in the lead up to Christmas and there is less danger of overloading his body and from a Gabon perspective they are more likely to get a fit player for the AFCON when that comes around in a few months time.
National Teams acting in the interest of the player and their welfare. Who’d have thunk it, eh?
So hopefully that’s one less worry for Mikel, but he’ll be sweating on the fitness of Partey still I bet. Whilst we can’t be sure whether he is fit after today, I suspect there might be some training pics at some stage today and that might give us an indication if he’s featured. If he isn’t, well, then I think we should probably assume it isn’t good news. It will have meant he hasn’t played since Leicester away on 30th October, meaning he’s been out for basically three weeks and during that time his fitness levels will have dropped. So if we don’t see him out and about in training today then I think we can assume the worst. I won’t go over that any more though, because I did a bit of that in yesterday’s outpouring of angst.
Instead, I’ll turn my attention to story number two that has caught my eye, which is that Lucas Torreira’s time at Arsenal could be coming to a close, with the Uruguayan apparently on the verge of having his loan move at Fiorentina upgraded to a buy option. I’ve had a quick look at some of his stats this morning to see how he’s getting on and by all accounts he seems to be doing ok. He’s made nine appearances for Fiorentina so far this season, seven in the league and they’ve played 12 matches in total so far, so it’s not as if he isn’t getting a chance like last season when he was at Atleti. I’ve always like Torreira and found the whole situation around him odd. Nobody is going to be able to convince me that Elneny is a better player and whilst I know it isn’t as simple as ‘Player A’ over ‘Player B’ (for example, maybe nobody wanted Elneny but we could get a better deal for Lucas in the summer?), but I just can’t help but think that Torreira would have been given at least some game time had he stuck around at Arsenal a little longer. And whilst I know Mikel has like Elneny, the way he’s shunted him out for Maitland-Niles this season, it shows that if a player is willing to knuckle down and do his thing in training, he’ll be given chances.
Torreira has constantly said things in the overseas press about not really settling in England and perhaps that’s what has been one of the biggest problems, but I still view it as a shame he hasn’t worked out, partly through him, but also partly through the clubs misuse of him. Remember when Unai Emery played him as a high pressing number 10 for a while? Utter madness. As a ball winning deep lying midfielder though he was tenacious and I always thought he could have a role.
But it hasn’t been meant to be and we are where we are. If he secures a move and we get at least some money for him then I guess that is something. Having not succeeded at Atleti I don’t think he’s going to be a guy helping Real Madrid, Barca or Bayern to a Champions League any time soon and perhaps that shows that despite my personal affection for him, he might not have had that high curve we all thought he might have.
These things happen, players don’t work out, everyone moves on. That, as they say, is football.
Catch you all tomorrow for some more waffle and worry over things that a grown man approaching his 40s really shouldn’t be too worried about.