Happy Monday to you lovely Gooners. How we all doing today?
I see that the media love-in for Man United has started. They waxed lyrical throughout the League Cup final and then afterwards too, as United celebrated their first cup in six years. Apparently this is going to spearhead them to inevitable glory now. We briefly talked about it on the Same Old Arsenal pod last night and Amanda said that she was concerned about how United are playing and that she was more worried about them than City when it comes to the Premier League.
I personally have to disagree with that. United have been playing well, Ten Haag has shown his credentials as a quality manager and sure, they have just lifted a cup which will give them a big boost for the remainder of the season, but they also have a lot of football to play and they can’t rely on Casemiro for every single game I’d wager. I just hope that, like us, they don’t have the squad depth to cope with a fight on four fronts. They play in the FA Cup this midweek against West Ham – which they should win – then they have league games they will need to fit in, as well as the Europa League. Seeing them go deeper in those competitions may not be the worst thing in the world; the tired legs will hopefully kick in.
Which is an advantage I hope we have as we get in to the run in for the remainder of our season, because as I said yesterday, for me one of the real positives from the result at the King Power was that the absence of the likes of Partey and Nketiah weren’t as strongly felt as they might have been. When the team was read out on Saturday afternoon ahead of the game and I saw Jorginho was starting, my worry was that Leicester would set up to hit us on the transition and that Jorginho would be the one player that they would exploit when countering us. But it never really happened.
You could argue that it was because Leicester were so terrible on the day, but Arsenal controlled the game in the way we had done with some of the games earlier in the season. I think of Bournemouth away, or Wolves away, when it just felt like we had control and had no intention of relinquishing it. And when you utterly dominate the ball and don’t allow the opposition to control the tempo, possession or territory, then a player like Jorginho is absolutely perfect for a game like that.
He’s been impressive since coming in and has been a perfectly fine understudy to Partey, to the extent that Arteta probably never had a doubt in his mind on not starting Partey in the Midlands. Yet now he has been able to bring him in and give him 15 minutes run around to see that he can handle the rigours of a Premier League game and as a result, he should probably be ok for Wednesday too, assuming he hasn’t had a setback as a result of getting on the field on Saturday. There have been no noises that this is the case so my expectations are that he’s back now.
But as well as that, the evidence has been displayed that Jorginho can come in and cover for Partey with little fuss, and I suspect will do so with a little more of the fans’ blessings between now and the end of the season. For example this coming week we could start Partey on Wednesday and, all being well and if we are winning by a couple of goals, then have him share minutes with Jorginho without too many groans for the home support. The Italian can also now properly be considered for that double-header against Sporting Lisbon and it would surprise me at all to see Arteta draft him in for both of those games. Sporting currently sit fourth in the Portuguese Primeira League and have had somewhat of a patchy season, sitting 18 points away from Benfica at the moment, as well as eight points off Braga in third. So they don’t strike me as a team in which we should be thinking that we need to play every one of our first teamers and even though we have two more Premier League matches to concern ourselves with before that tie, I do think Arteta will have some rotation in mind when thinking about that game.
He might also have that in mind for Wednesday too. We know what we’re going to get with Everton and we know what they will come to North London to do, so perhaps some slightly different thinking is in order for that game on Wednesday. Perhaps, for example, the move to give Trossard some game time centrally also had a little bit of that Everton game in mind. Eddie’s form has been patchy of late, but against deep block teams he has suffered slightly and so perhaps by already ensuring that Trossard gets some minutes centrally, Arteta has given himself an option to start with against the Toffees? Trossard is better with the ball at his feet, he can turn quicker than Eddie and has tighter control. Against a team who will camp on the edge of their box and make life difficult, the amount of space we might get might be reduced and therefore that rotation decision of playing Trossard might be something that Arteta could think about in just a couple of days time?
It’s an option. And that – like Jorginho – is an option we didn’t have in December and like Jorginho giving us some breathing space for when Partey isn’t fully fit, Trossard does the same when Eddie isn’t firing on all cylinders and until Gabriel Jesus comes back. Which we all, of course, hope is sooner rather than later. But does the integration of Trossard centrally buy Arteta a little more time to make sure Jesus is fully ready to step back in to the fold?
Anyway, the important thing to note is that we are in a good place after a recent sticky patch; we’ve had back-to-back wins, the confidence looked there in the team and now we go in to this game against Everton knowing that a win puts some clear daylight between us and City. For now. More to come ahead of that Everton game – which will be a tough and frustrating one I’m sure – in the next couple of days.
Catch you wonderful people tomorrow.