There may be no football just yet for The Arsenal, but there looks like there’s plenty of goings on at London Colney, that’s for sure. Over the last couple of days we’ve seen Arsenal pull the plug on a number of loan deals as John Jules and Azeez returned to the club from Blackpool and Portsmouth respectively, following a number of other youngsters also being recalled this month. Arsenal have had enough of giving out our prospects and them not getting game time, which I’m a-ok with to be honest with you, because if clubs aren’t going to use them then we need to find them new homes.
I do wonder if it has an impact on future loan opportunities with those clubs. Imagine if, in the summer, Portsmouth come sniffing around a Charlie Patino or similar. Would Arsenal think twice about loaning him out to them and therefore choose another club? It must play a factor. It is not about being vindictive, but more that if you’ve already put your faith in one club and they haven’t kept up their side of the bargain, you hardly owe them anything and you don’t want a repeat of history.
That’s probably not so much a consideration to be fair. I mean Serge Gnabry basically had a loan deal wasted because Tony Pulis didn’t rate him at West Brom, yet last season we still allowed Maitland-Niles to go there and play for the second half of the season. Maybe enough water had passed under the bridge between those two deals though, because let’s face it, Arsenal must have been pretty cheesed off given what eventually happened to Gnabry and how we lost him.
So we have some players who return to the club and I’m sure the club will be desperate to find the optimum environment for them to develop in now. They won’t be recalled so they can slot straight in to the first team, despite the bleating of journalists, so I suspect they’ll be moved to other teams for the second half of the season. One player who is moving on from the first team, however, is Pablo Mari. Of course a few journalists who need to have a poke at Arsenal will use it as an example of how the club are taking the micky out of the system by loaning out players when they supposedly can’t field a full strength team, but it’s utter trash from the gutter press to be honest. Pablo Mari hasn’t played at all since the start of the season really, it’s clear he’s falling down the pecking order and unlike in midfield where we are down to the bare bones, in central defence we have Gabriel, White, Holding, Chambers, event Kieran Tierney who could all play there. So to give Pablo game time by sending him to Udinese makes sense. He plays minutes, hopefully protects some value, then we get him back and probably sell him on in the summer. It hasn’t really worked out, he’s not really good enough in terms of his athleticism and pace for the Premier League, so we need to get him in the proverbial shop window and let him see if he – and we – can find a club that will give us some cash for him.
His departure in the summer will also ensure Saliba has a slot to fight for his place too.
As for the incomings, well, that’s a little more worrying if you ask me. It all seems to have gone eerily quiet and when you’re reading too much in to body language with the likes of Vlahovic putting his hands up to the Fiorentina fans in the game they played yesterday, you know you are clutching at straws. It’s a bit like in the summer when you see players in cities away from where they live/play football. Just because Benzema has travelled to London in July doesn’t mean an English club is getting him snapped up; the likelihood is that he’s visiting friends, or just wants to spend a bit of time in one of the greatest cities in the world. For what it’s worth (probably not a lot) I don’t think Vlahovic’s actions after he scored and when he came on the pitch after halftime yesterday mean anything. I’ve seen people suggest that he was merely apologising for a penalty miss. That wouldn’t surprise me. When you think about how many respected journos have explained just how difficult this transfer would be to pull off this January, it feels like a real long shot to even think about him as a potential Arsenal player. It feels like in the summer it would be difficult too, so getting him now feels like an unlikely outcome.
What we do know is a fact is that we have a player in Aubameyang who is available and having been sent back from the AFCON because of his illness following COVID, I wonder what the next move is for the club. If they push hard and by some miracle pull off the Vlahovic signing, then you’d have to say he’s probably toast, even moving to send him out on loan somewhere I suspect. But given that I don’t think that will happen, I do wonder if Mikel Arteta would be minded to re-integrate Auba in to the team for the remainder of this season. Find an egreement for a temporary ceasefire between both sides, suck it up until May, then in the summer let both parties go their separate ways. We’ve seen teams do it before and surely it can be done again now? Auba will just want to play football and Arteta might need another striker to be available in case of injury. Perhaps Arteta makes it clear that Aubameyang will be an impact sub for his transgressions earlier in the season? Either way, with us needing every available man to come together and pull their weight if we’re going to have some form of successful season, we might find that a player of Aubameyang’s quality is needed between now and when it all finishes up in five months time.
Perhaps there has been too much water on the bridge. Perhaps what Auba has done between closed doors is too irreparable. Perhaps we are in to Guendouzi territory. But unless we find that out for sure we are only speculating and based on what I know – the same as you – I would be considering getting him back with the first team right now.
Maybe Arteta will be asked that when he does his press conference ahead of the Liverpool game. Lord knows he’s going to be asked enough questions about a variety of different things that have one on at the club recently.
Catch you all tomorrow.