Morning folks – we all good?
It was press conference day at The Arsenal yesterday and that meant an opportunity to get some updates from Mikel Arteta on the team, the Queen, as well as our opponents Brentford on Sunday, for which three points is the dream. Unsurprisingly for Arteta he didn’t really tell us anything, so we aren’t any closer to knowing if Zinchenko, Partey or Smith Rowe are available this weekend, although I suspect the latter will be missing as Arteta has admitted that he’s struggled all season. If Smith Rowe is out this weekend it would be useful to know when he might be back for us. Is this a short term thing that he’ll be available for the North London Derby? Or is it a problem that is going to keep him out for longer? These are the sort of questions we want to know so we can worry so terribly about our squad depth, even at this early stage in the season!
I’d be surprised if ESR is back and I’ll certainly be surprised if Partey isn’t. He’s been training for over a week, he’ll have been able to get up to speed with his teammates and he is about to go off to play with Ghana in the next couple of weeks, so we might as well use him now. It would be such a big boost to the team too; Sambi has deputised well and in some respects I feel sorry for him, because he’d have started against Everton and probably against PSV, so he’d have got more minutes in those legs and more time as the number six understudy to Partey, but them’s the breaks, unfortunately.
But a returning Partey would be big for us. There were rumours emerging yesterday that Zinchenko has pulled out of the Ukraine squad and Arteta didn’t specifically talk about him, so whether that is true or not (that he’s injured) I don’t know, but the good thing about that position is that we don’t exactly have a massive drop down in quality between Zinchenko and Tierney. In fact you could argue that it isn’t a drop down at all, it is just a different type of player, a better defender for sure, so in a way if Zinny is missing for tomorrow then that’s good for KT and gets more minutes in his legs. He, like Tomiyasu, was a victim of not having a full pre season and being injured for parts of it, in which Zinchenko came in and was excellent at the start of the season. There was talk of how KT would ever get his place back but what this is showing is that when you have healthy competition for places and quality players competing, it doesn’t hurt the team when they get injured, but also it gives opportunity. Maybe KT will take the opportunity, play tomorrow, then be the first choice in which Zinny needs to take a seat for a while. I’d have no problem with that.
Arteta was also asked about whether not playing will cause a loss of momentum in the team and he pretty much just said that everyone has to just deal with it. That is true and certainly we are not disadvantaged compared to any other team, but you can’t deny that we weren’t in sparkling form since the start of the season and whereas some teams might have had patchy form and use this period as an opportunity to reset, we’ve got to use it to keep in our minds eye of just how well we have been playing. The good news is that if you include pre season too, the team has been in form since July, so it is not a small run of form we’ve been on. The team has sustained it for a prolonged period of time and whilst we missed out on two games in the last 10 days, let’s not forget that we played a game about 10 days ago as it was. There are some teams that won’t have played since the weekend before and so if you’re thinking about rust building in for some of the legs, that must surely be the case for other teams more than us? That’s what I hope, anyway.
He was also asked about Ivan Toney tweet last season and whilst he brushed it off, I hope he is using that from last season as motivation again. Maybe not in the same way, but for our home game against them he brought it up on screen – as we now know because of the ‘All or Nothing’ series – and so you know that managers use this as motivation against players. I want him reminding the players tomorrow of what happened at the beginning of last season. Yesterday Arteta laughed it off and said that he was running out of different ideas, but I suspect he will be using his pre match talk to state that the world needs to see a totally different Arsenal to the one that lost on that opening Friday. Brentford are a good team, Toney will be a problem for us and Mikel had plenty of nice things to say about Thomas Frank, but frankly my friends, I don’t give a damn, I want us to banish another demon tomorrow and that’s what I hope we see from midday.
He was probed on things like Ben White not getting picked for England, but he just played a straight bat and said things like “that’s Gareth’s decision” and the like, so nothing really that interesting. Most of the other questions in the presser were the usual fluff so I won’t bother dwelling on them too much. Instead I’ll let you leave for the day and hope you have a good one.
Catch you all tomorrow with a match preview.