A bit like The Arsenal, I took a day off yesterday from writing the blog, mainly because I was hanging and a little tired after a weekend of excess celebrating The Management’s birthday. But whilst on Saturday I wrote about Arsenal stepping down off the morale high ground and how it made me feel uneasy, having seen the reaction of journos and some fans – notably those from the Scum’s parish, that feeling seems to have evaporated, to be replaced by delight at seeing how triggered some people on the internet are.
I’ve made it clear that I didn’t think it looked great that we were gaming the system, but more that it was the system itself that was there to be gamed in the first place that was the problem. But to have seen people talking about the Lasgagne-gate game in 2006 as justification as to why this is all so terribly unfair is genuinely hilarious. To see people talking about replaying the Leeds game because they were missing players when they played us in December, to see ‘journalists’ getting on their high horses, then in some instances responding with messages about how they should not be spoken to in a certain way because they expressed ‘an opinion’, has completely swung me the other way. It’s actually really funny to see this outrage. To read the quotes from some people without a hint of irony in what they are saying is really quite amazing stuff. People like Jamie Carragher saying “ok to play on Thursday though” in response to Arsenal’s statement is genuinely amazing. Why are Arsenal playing on Thursday, Jamie? Is it perhaps because Liverpool lied about false positives and got a game postponed they could play? But now it is suddenly an issue? Pull the other one son, it’s got bells on.
The Arsenal fanbase has rallied and honestly it feels brilliant right now. It’s like everyone has circled us and we’ve pulled up the drawbridge, told them we’ve got enough supplies to last us through winter, then let them come at us. The in-fighting that we often see amongst Arsenal fans has – at least for now – subsided and we have all aimed our pitchforks and arrows at the external threat that has rounded on our club. After the battling 0-0 draw against Liverpool I heard some speak of how important that kind of suffering was for a young team like ours; it helps band these players together and they will have come out of it feeling more together, which can only be beneficial for us. Well, as a result of the rounding on Arsenal by the media and some fans of other teams, it feels – even if only temporarily – that the fanbase is becoming more together too. My hope is we can hold this unity together long enough for it to have a positive impact on the club itself.
We are The Arsenal, we are together, we are united and we are back, baby!
Of course in terms of what happens on the pitch, there are still question marks over who is fit and ready for this coming Thursday. The club have not released any ore information, but noises coming out of the Arsenal press over the weekend suggested that Arsenal had received a second positive COVID case amongst the team. That is slightly worrying and you have to hope that we’re not going to get hit with a bunch of absentees over the next few days. We’ll probably also not find out until the day of the game who that person is, but if true then it will mean we’ll be short of another player for that game. Odegaard should be out of his isolation by then but the questions still remain about our midfield whatever happens. Partey and Elneny are still at the AFCON, Xhaka is suspended and so Lokonga remains the only first team midfielder with any real minutes this season. It does make you wonder about why we’re halfway through the window and we’ve not made more concrete moves and with noises coming out of Italy saying that the Arthur Melo loan deal is set to be stopped because Juve can’t find a replacement, I hope Arsenal can move quickly for Plan B. Quite why Juve are briefing that they will keep a player who has barely featured for them this season is a bit weird, but perhaps it is just a briefing to the media to either try to force Arsenal into an ‘obligation’ loan to purchase rather than an ‘option’.
Personally I hope we start looking at other options and I’ve seen Tielemans from Leicester mentioned once or twice. That would be a fantastic move if possible. In the summer he has a year left on his deal apparently and I think he is a splendid player. Scores goals, good with the ball at his feet, covers distances but also is a decent passer of the ball. He’s been a fantastic player for Leicester and at 24-years-old he’d be within the profile of players we have been looking at. The down side would be any January move would probably cost the earth but if we’re looking at him for the summer then I’d be very keen on that indeed. I doubt it could happen in this window though so that doesn’t really solve our very real shortages we have as it stands.
Quite what Arsenal are going to do is beyond me but I do hope they move quickly. We need players in and we need to hear noises now id we’re going to have them ready for the Burnley game at the weekend. There’s the Liverpool match on Thursday too but I just don’t see anything happening by then. Of course if Gabon can beat Morocco tomorrow then it would send Ghana home from the AFCON and we’d be looking at being able to get Partey back probably from Thursday at the earliest, although I doubt he’ll be able to play on Thursday. But it should mean he would be fit for Sunday’s game against Burnley. That would be a big boost to us. So, y’know, come on Gabon and all that. The down side is that Morocco are ranked as number 23 in the FIFA rankings and Gabon are 89, so the chances of a victory are probably quite slim. Whether Auba is fit to help them tomorrow remains to be seen, after his ‘cardiac lesions’ were found. Let’s hope he is.
And that’s probably about all there is for today. No doubt the day will bring up more rumour and media outrage from the weekend, but we’ll deal with that, because we are The Arsenal.
Catch you all tomorrow.