Without having any kind of official confirmation from the club it is impossible to say if we’ve made it through ’round three’ of the ‘pray no Arsenal players get injured on international duty’ roulette. But it sounds – on the face of it – like everyone has made it through without any massive injuries or concerns. That’s no thanks to Rodri though, who went absolutely steaming in on Odegaard yesterday inside the box in what looked like a completely reckless challenge designed to injury a player.
Interesting. Man City player goes steaming in on important Arsenal player inside the box…
Is Rodri a dirty player though? I don’t watch enough of Man City to tell with any real authority, so I decided to have a look at how many fouls he commits. He plays in a deep lying defensive midfield role, he is going to be in positions where he might have to make tackles, so maybe this is just that type of player that he is?
Not according to the stats. In the whole of the Premier League he is ranked 79th for the most fouls committed per 90 minutes this season. Mason Mount commits more fouls than he does, to pick a random example. So we have a player who doesn’t commit many fouls, who has for some reason decided to drop a ‘reducer’ on one of Arsenal’s most important players in the remaining 10 games of this season…I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions on that one.
That, thankfully, sounds like the only scare we had, with Emile Smith Rowe playing 66 minutes and scoring with a very nice header for the Under-21s. He came off along with another player so I am assuming that this was a planned sub and the fact that he will have got over an hour in the tank can only be good for Arsenal. Arteta has been reluctant to use him that much because of fitness so to see him getting in to good positions, getting the minutes he needs and getting one more game under his belt can only be good for us. It also might give Arteta some hope that he can start to use him more and more in matches and with these last 10 games being as tough as they are, we are going to inevitably going to need options to mix it up at some stage. There are plenty of players with whom we all want to see Arsenal wrap in cotton wool, but Smith Rowe is a guy who needs minutes and in that instance you have to be happy that England have been able to provide those minutes. Arteta will be happy.
Especially happy as it is his birthday today. Happy birthday to the boss, who is just over seven months older than me. I think I can officially say that when the manager is just a few months older than you, the chance of you putting on an Arsenal shirt and playing for the team you love has finally gone!
So back to the internationals, with an absolute peach of a finish scored by Xhaka for Switzerland yesterday as they beat Belarus 5-0. It was an outside of the box rasper and just adds again to his amazing season he is having in the goalscoring stakes. For Arsenal this season he has six goals and five assists and last night he had a goal and an assist. He’s going to have had his best season in the sharp end of the pitch by the time we get to May and it is therefore no surprise that so many Arsenal fans have come to stand up and applaud the turnaround for a much lamented player just three years ago. He embodies everything that is positive about this current crop of players; the determination, the availability, the reliability and consistency. Arteta loves him and picks him every game because he knows what he is going to get, but this season he’s got even more than I suspect he thought he might get. It is amazing.
Elsewhere, KT played the full 90 for Scotland on the left of a back three and that, like Smith Rowe, can only be a good thing. He needs minutes to keep himself ticking over because with Tomiyasu out injured, there has to be a consideration to have him as a back up right back, as well as being deputy should Zinchenko pick up a knock. Scotland play Spain this week too, so if he fancied dropping a ‘robust’ challenge on Rodri for us, I’m sure Martin wouldn’t mind…
Today is ‘Round four’ and it’s Ramsdale, Saka, Zinchenko and Jorginho we need to worry about today. Tomorrow is Partey and Kiwior and then they are free, before we get Odegaard back after Norway’s game against Georgia. Let’s hope by then everyone has a clean bill of health.
And finally, a ‘congrats’ go to the Arsenal women from yesterday, providing once again that not only is Arsenal red, but that Tottenham do indeed get battered wherever they go.
That’s it from me today. But James and I will be doing a Same Old Arsenal pod tonight on some of the players out on loan duty and whether we should keep, loan again or sell. If you want to join us you can do so here. We’re on from 7.30pm.
Leave a Reply