Bukayo Saka really is something else, eh? The kid has the world at his feet at such a young age and although I only checked in on the game yesterday as I was cooking, I saw a few bits – like that wonderful goal – that was enough to peak my interest and give other fans a little taster of what it is like to get behind such a talented player and have him on your team. The spin, the strike, then the assist before that for Kane – we’ve been watching him do that kind of stuff for a few years, but as each year passes by, he just gets better and better.
His numbers prove that too. In 2019/20 he got four goals and 12 assists in 38 games in all competitions. 2020/21 he improved his end product numbers by hitting 17 goals and assists in all competitions. Last season it was 19 goals and assist and this season, with 10 games still left to play, he has 23 goals and assists. I say ‘all competitions’, but I’m of course talking about The Arsenal and not England. For England the ratio is just as impressive, with four goals and two assists in his last seven games. He’s already a superstar and we are lucky enough to have him.
What I love about him is that he isn’t a ‘flashy’ player. He isn’t a dribble merchant who beats five players with eight step overs. He is efficient. If he needs to pick a simple pass, he’ll do it and if he needs to drive at a player to commit them, he’ll do that too. He is equally happy going on the outside as much as cutting in and his versatility means that he’s played left back, midfield, as well as right midfield and I think right wing back at some stage. There’s a reason we all call him Starboy. It is because he is a star. At 21 years of age.
Let that sink in.
The slightly frustrating part about yesterday was that he played the full 90 minutes, but he seemed to get through that ok and if you’re going to look for an up side, it is that he now has six days of rest and training before we play Leeds. That is also true to Ramsdale who didn’t get on the pitch yesterday, but who has done his international duty for now, as has Zinchenko who also played in that match. Which means we have seven of our best starting XI who I believe are now looking good to play unless there is a training ground knock: Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Saka, Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus, with Saliba as a question mark because of his back. If he is fit then eight from 11 are hopefully good to go.
Tonight we will hopefully – fingers crossed – get confirmation that Kiwior and Partey are ok and whilst only one of them makes the first team XI, it means we wait on just Xhaka and Odegaard if Partey gets through unscathed against Angola. This is crunch time people; Partey and Odegaard are two of the most important players in our team so losing one of them would be a blow. Partey for his deep-lying, progressive passing, midfield screening, play. Odegaard for the way he meshes everything in the middle and final third together. We need both to be fine and although Odegaard and Xhaka aren’t on until tomorrow, at least by this time tomorrow we’ll know if one of that to is back and raring to go. If any of the Angolan national team coaching staff happen to be Arsenal fans that consume a lot of online Arsenal content and are reading this, can I implore you to instruct your boys to leave Thomas alone on the pitch for the duration of his time there?
So what else is happening in the world of The Arsenal? Not a lot, really, which is absolutely fine when you consider that lot up the road and the turmoil they appear to be in. They’re still fighting for a Champions League place but Levy has unfortunately pulled the trigger on the destruction that Conte has left in the aftermath of his bizarre rant post the Southampton game. That’s a shame, because as Arsenal fans we were quite enjoying this, to be honest. After their chirping of last season, after pipping us to top four and proclaiming that ‘this was it’ in terms of the two trajectories of both North London sides, after pundit-after-pundit declared that the Scum had the upper hand with their manager and they had subsequently “won the transfer window” in August 2022, they have sacked Conte with immediate effect. This was meant to be ‘the one’; the guy that finally brings a trophy when in reality it has turned out to be pretty deliciously frustrating for them all. The football was dreadful, the signings last summer were weird (in my opinion), he crowed a little too much last season when they pipped a decimated Arsenal team to fourth, then this season they have been fortunate enough to have Harry Kane holding them up to fourth spot right now. Hopefully one of Liverpool or Newcastle can pip them to that fourth spot this season to just finish off a wonderful season for them. I’m just hoping that they don’t get Nagelsmann. He’s a good coach, I like him, given how they’ve churned out coaches with big reputations, I just hope he isn’t tempted…
And that’s about all I’ll say about them today I think. Last night James and I had a chat about the current loans that we’ve got and whether we think they should be sold, brought back in to the first team or sold again. It was an interesting debate and you can have a watch here if you’re that way inclined. I personally thought the conversation we had about potentially cashing in on some of those loans was interesting; I don’t think we were over the top on some of our valuations of those players we don’t think are coming back and if we get the kind of conservative figures that we speculated on in the summer for thee players, then we could be looking at a solid £60million+ coming in to the coffers. When you then start thinking about what a Declan Rice would cost you, then it starts to feel very real and achievable given that we – hopefully – will have Champions League football next season.
Right, that’s me done for today. Have a good one, enjoy your Monday, then let the countdown to proper football next weekend, begin.
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