I don’t normally lead on Arsenal Women stuff, because I don’t follow it massively closely and I am by no means an expert, so I just tend to check in and give them a mention when good things happen. So for them to beat Bayern Munich at the Emirates last night (and the first goal looked like a cracker to be fair), I say “fair f*cks” to you ladies; it’s a big win and sets up a semi final against either Wolfsburg or PSG. By no means will either be an easy game, but the ladies are doing the business and that can only be a positive thing for the club too. After winning the Euro’s last summer, the women’s game has been spring-boarded even further in the last 12 months and amongst Arsenal fans this will also give us all a bit of a boost, which is lovely. Imagine if Arsenal Women win the Champions League and Arsenal men could win the Prem…..
No, I can’t even finish that. It’s too soon, there are too many games to play, there is some incredibly difficult hurdles to overcome and I STILL can’t bring myself to truly believe it could happen.
To give us any chance, however, we need to know that we have a clean bill of health and that news will hopefully start to trickle through today, then tomorrow when Arteta has his press conference. It looks like the two big question marks are over Tierney – who funnily enough was on the receiving end of ANOTHER strong challenge from Rodri (…funny that, eh?…) as well as Thomas Partey, who didn’t play against Angola and supposedly picked up an injury to his right leg that Charles Watts says was not meant to keep him out long term. The players should all be back reporting for duty today I’d imagine and after those players who played on Tuesday will probably have flown back to London yesterday, we’ll probably start to get that drip feed of information about who has trained and who hasn’t, maybe with some pictures being shown too. I’d be surprised if Partey trained and I suspect when the club release their usual training pics tomorrow he will be notable by his absence. But they will be treating him with caution and I think that means that we will have to wait a little longer – probably until Saturday 2pm – before we get a really good indication as to where we’re at.
It appears the press are pretty much leading with the ‘race against time’ vibe, but as yet we don’t have any real update on some of these players and they are just going with what is already out there in the press, so I’m not going to get too worked up (yet) about Saliba, Tierney, Partey et al until we start getting wind of any real ‘scoops’ from the journos rather than just repurposing info that is in the public domain.
But what I have noticed, which I might touch on in the coming days as it becomes clearer for our opponents too, is that Leeds have a few injury worries of their own. Tyler Adams – who I quite like as a player and thought was good at the World Cup – has undergone some surgery on his hamstring, apparently, so that makes him unavailable. Stuart Dallas and Adam Forshaw are also out, whilst there is a doubt over their pacey and quite decent looking forward Wilfried Gnoto, who limped out of the game against Malta for Italy this week. Mancini apparently called it a ‘sprain’ and even if it is a minor one, that might mean the game in two days comes a little too soon. I kind of hope so, because although I haven’t watched much of Leeds this season, when I’ve seen him and seen a couple of his goals, he looks like a talent. He’s a little raw I believe at 19 years of age, but he’s somebody that I’m sure will pose a some questions to our back line if he’s fit enough to play.
So it appears we aren’t the only ones with a few question marks over our heads on players availability, with our opponents also doing a bit of ‘sweating’ of their own. Let’s just hope that whatever Arteta and the Arsenal medical team say in the next 24-36 hours, any of the knocks picked up by our players are just temporary and worst case scenario we miss one or two for Leeds at home but they are back for Liverpool away next weekend.
We’ve been burned so many times down the years though, that there will be many of us just waiting to hear the inevitable “William Saliba’s leg has fallen off and Thomas Partey has lost all vision. Kieran Tierney can never turn right again and whilst in training Eddie Nketiah has spontaneously burst in to flames”.
That would just about sum up the sh*tness of the international break to be honest with you.
Or maybe I am just hyperbolically over-exaggerating everything because we are at a crunch point in a season that we never thought would happen, that we still pinch ourselves and that we all feel we are so close and yet still so far to go? I suspect there’s certainly an element of that in my psyche right now. Everything feels so fragile; we have been so superb all season so far but it can all just come crashing down in a matter of weeks. When you think about it like that, it is a little mad, isn’t it? What I mean is that you can essentially go three quarters of a season as the best team in the division, only for a few short weeks to essentially cost you everything when it comes to dishing out the prizes at the end. Of course the argument is that Man City have been just as good and if they win the league by game 38 then you can’t really argue that they haven’t been the better team, ultimately. It will just feel like a kick in the teeth for us because for the vast majority of this season we have been the side that has flown the flag and led the way, yet we could still come away with absolutely bugger all.
Sorry, I’m starting to think too much about it, so I should probably put a pin in this particular set of ramblings and call it a day. Have a good one and I’ll catch thee all in the morrow.