Morning all, how we all doing? Looking forward to a lovely Saturday?
I bet there’s a few US based Gooners that are excited for later on this evening, as The Arsenal are in Baltimore and pre season properly kicks off in earnest with the full first team squad all out there and tonight the team plays against that exotic and exciting opponent that we’ve never played against in….wait…it says here:
Oh. Everton. Great. So we travel halfway around the world to play a team that in less than two months time (11th September), we play again. Oh well. At least the Arsenal fans descending en masse in Baltimore will have a bit of a party and enjoy seeing the players up close, rather than a watching brief from afar.
For me, I won’t be watching the game. I’m not staying up until midnight to watch a friendly and I’m certainly not paying money for it as a one off, as the club are promoting at the moment. That is pretty shocking in itself I have to say and if you put it in the context of the fact I pay money for a season ticket, Sky Sports, BT Sports and I also go to some away games, it’s just another cost chucked on to the pile. Let’s also not forget that the kits look so darn amazing that i’ll probably buy all three this season. I know, I know, I’m a sucker.
But not that much that I’ll pay for friendlies on TV at times in the evening that don’t really work for me.
Anyway, let’s focus on player-related news and there’s two main pieces that came out from yesterday. The first is on Oleksandr Zinchenko, who Fabrizio Romano has said is now discussing terms with Arsenal for his transfer to the club. In what feels like a well trodden path between the clubs, he’ll be the latest Arteta Man City player to join us if it happens and it will pretty much secure a loan deal away for Nuno Tavares from the club. That in itself is interesting, because it could work out well for Arsenal. If Nuno joins a Serie A team, or a team in Spain, plays the whole season and grows as a player, he could come back to Arsenal a very different prospect than the raw and erratic player we had on our hands last season. Nuno had barely featured for Benfica when he signed for us and got plenty of minutes, but if he gets more and is a success I think there might be a sub plot building here.
And that sub plot could be, I wonder, that Kieran Tierney’s position at the club is not considered as water tight as many of us would have thought. Think about it; if KT plays this season and has another break down, being out for a few months again, that will be another data point for the club to consider whether they need to cash in. It is horrible to say it and I haven’t heard an Arsenal fan say they don’t love KT, but we need to look at the facts here. He joined the club in August 2019 having had groin surgery whilst at Celtic in June of that year. He missed the start of the season but slowly got back in to the team, before damaging his shoulder and missing 19 games that season. The following season he picked up a groin injury and a knee injury and missed a total of 18 games for us. Last season he picked up an ankle problem, followed by needing knee surgery and missed a total of 13 matches. In the three seasons he’s been with us he’s missed 50 football matches for The Arsenal. He will start this season as our first choice left back but if he picks up another lengthy injury like he has in every season he’s played for us, we have to admit that we might need to think about longer term solutions. He misses an average of just under 17 games a season. At a club like Arsenal, with our ambitions, that’s not really a longer term solution and if Nuno comes back at the end of the season a better player and looking like he can fulfil the potential I believe he has, then this could work out well.
But I started this piece talking about Zinchenko, because he’s now supposedly on the verge of a deal which will hit £35million in total. Some are less hot on him, but me personally, I think this is a great deal. He’s an experienced player, Arteta knows him and his attitude (which is apparently exemplary – a real hard worker) and his versatility will be a god send. He plays in central midfield for the Ukraine national team and we’ve seen just how well he performs there. He has also had many games as a left back, is left footed and whilst we were all getting interested in Tielemans, I wonder if Zinchenko’s arrival will have Arteta and Edu thinking twice about whether they want him. If Zinchenko can play in that left eight role, as well as at left back, he can be used probably equally as much over the season given Tierney’s injuries. We’ve all bemoaned the challenge of shifting Xhaka in at left back, but this guy can play both the role Xhaka does, as well as the left back role to a high standard.
This move feels like a no brainer for me and I can see why the club want to kick it on quickly now. Hopefully more news trickles out over the weekend.
But of course that is just speculation right now, whereas the real stuff is going on in the States, including an interview with William Saliba which dropped yesterday, conveniently timed just after an Independent article had be released yesterday lunchtime that the player has said he wants to leave unless he’s guaranteed a starting spot. Just nine or so hours later and the club are putting out a video with the player himself talking about being back with the club. Coincidence? I think not!
His English is not bad, he talked about being excited and how he’s looking forward to spending more time with teammates, etc. He talked about watching every Arsenal game whilst he was on loan, trying to understand the new players he’s never played with before because they had signed when he wasn’t at the club.
I’ve honestly never seen so much media noise around a player who has never played for the club! It’s a bit weird but the hope is that when he plays his first few matches, this can all die down, because so many of us are just bored with the noise. Let’s see him on the pitch, let’s see how he gets on in an Arsenal shirt, let’s hope that he can play well for us and have a long and successful career.
That’s enough waffle for one day! You have yourself a good one and let’s see what we can learn from tonight’s pre season friendly.
Catch thee in the morrow.