Morning folks and welcome to Wednesday. Having to go old school on the blog today, because the desktop version of the site seems to have gone down, so until that is up and running, I’m penning some thoughts from the iPhone, so please excuse the inevitable typos and predictive text change words in to other random words.
We’re just another day away from Sporting Lisbon, so attention will inevitably turn towards Arteta and his press conference later, but I can’t help but take a look over the fence at City and the way they blew Leipzig away last night and not get a bit concerned. Hey, maybe there’s an argument that it might give them the focus they want and enable them to take their eye of the Premier League, but that team is so chocked full of great players, that I fully expect them to keep ploughing on in the cup competitions and keep on getting those wins in the league. It’s just kind of what they do.
But I am trying to avoid focusing on others, because we still have it out in front of us and we are the ones who currently have the lead; it is difficult though. For the neutral you want it to go right to the wire, but for us we’d rather City lost their next four league games, we win our next four, then the league is wrapped up by April. It won’t happen, but a man can dream, you know?
So what else is happening in the Arsenal world? Well, it looks like the debate as to whether it’s going to be Eddie or Balogun playing understudy is starting to hot up, after Flo bagged himself another goal at the weekend. He’s up to 17 this season and given the fact there are still at least another 10 games to go in the French Ligue Un, I suspect it means that he’ll definitely hit 20 goals this season and that is a phenomenal return for a player who is on a hot streak and certainly causing a lot of questions to be had by Arsenal fans.
I do find it an interesting debate to be had however, especially when looking at the comparison’s between Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun, because the discussion in my WhatsApp groups and on my Twitter timeline is all around picking one for next season and who that might be. Personally I am of the view ‘why not have both?’ but the reality is probably different. Balogun has had the taste of first team action and I can’t see him wanting to stick around to play second or even third back up. This season Flo probably would have got some minutes as we’ve missed Eddie through injury of late, but the arrival of Trossard possibly also complicates things, even in to next season. At his age, Trossard becomes a versatile option across the front three, so it does mean that there will be less opportunity when you think about next season. Trossard may become a player utilised more in the wide positions, but the fact he’s done well centrally will, I think, force Arteta to make a decision on either Eddie or Flo.
And I’m not sure which way he will go, you know, because initially I was thinking that we’ll probably cash in on Flo. Arteta has always raved about Eddie, he’s backed him, he and Edu gave Eddie that big deal last summer and as a result, my original thought is that Arteta will stick by Eddie and it’ll be Flo that might be moved on. But then I think about what happened with Saliba in the summer. When Saliba returned and it was clear he’d be part of the squad, the questions were whether he’d get enough game time to be happy. But when Arteta and his coaching staff saw Big Bill, they threw him straight in and moved White out to the right. The rest, as they say, is history. But it is that instance that makes me realise that Arteta is ruthless. He is a guy who just wants to keep improving and if it means that he has a player that shows they are better than another player, then Arteta has no problem in upgrading. Just look at KT. None of us thought that he’d be a guy who is rumoured to be wanting out at the end of the season if he doesn’t get game time. Indeed, I looked at the Zinchenko signing and thought it was a lot of money to spend on a back up left back. But he has changed the way we play and become one of our most important players this season, fundamentally changing the way in which we build up play, being a big part of the success this season.
Now, I’m not saying that this will happen with Balogun and Nketiah, certainly I think it is harsh to just assume that Flo is an upgrade on Eddie without him having played regularly in the Premier League. Quite often as fans we get hung up on the player not with us at this moment in time; it happens when players are injured, or out on loan, that you automatically assume that what they are doing elsewhere means the guy who’s already in your team isn’t as good. As fans we project greatness on that which we don’t have in front of us and whilst I do have a feeling that Balogun’s ceiling is higher than Nketiah, until we see it live and in the flesh in the Premier League, it is nigh-on impossible to make a true judgement.
Arteta won’t have the luxury on time on this though, I don’t suspect, because I have a feeling that he’ll have the summer with them together in pre season before having to make a call. But I’m sure we’d all – including Arteta – have the luxury of making that decision rather than having a paucity of options to choose from. For now we need to park that and focus on what is in front of us. Hopefully that is some glory and goodness come May.
Catch you all tomorrow for a pre match preview.
Have a good one!