Morning Gooners – we all good?
It’s a wet Thursday in London today and I’m sticking it out at home methinks – no sense in becoming a drowned rat travelling in to London.
So what’s going on in the world of football then, eh? Well first and foremost let’s take a pause in utter astonishment that the Premier League are supposedly pushing for Everton to get a 12-point deduction for breaching FFP rules. Apparently it is linked to a tax issue on the new stadium and whilst I am all for some kind of proper enforcement of FFP, I think there is a slightly bigger fish to fry in that regard, don’t you? It comes in the shape of…oh I don’t know…the club that has been financially doped for more than a decade and has been charged 115 times of offences related to breaching of Premier League rules and FFP.
Honestly, can you imagine the fallout if the deduction for Everton happened this season, whereas the City question mark still remains unanswered? I bet it would happen too. And if that was the case, that Everton get a swift trial and are found guilty…well…I think there will be a lot of fans who will be crying corruption. Not least Liverpool fans I suspect, because the City offences date back to 2013/14 which was their second league title and when Liverpool finished second to them. Their proper tussle between the two clubs probably only really started four years later, but the foundations of City dominance were started to be set at that time and the Scousers will probably find it incredible that a club so close to them geographically is being treated so different to one so close to them competitively.
Let’s wait to see how that one pans out. I read something yesterday to say the City situation could take years through the courts; which doesn’t surprise me at all, so if the Everton situation is any swifter then I think the footballing world needs to collectively stand up and be well within its rights to question the integrity of those running the game.
From an Arsenal-specific perspective, I’ve seen plenty of debate about how Tomiyasu should now be considered first choice left back after Zinchenko’s first half against Chelsea, The Japanese’s seconded have against Chelsea, which he then followed up with an impressive game against Sevilla on Tuesday night. I get it; he has looked good, he is showing the quality of not just the first XI, but also the squad, plus if you are going to call this a true meritocracy then surely you should be looking at rewarding players for playing well. But I think as we’re finding out with the whole Ramsdale / Raya situation, I don’t think it is a meritocracy at the club. I’m trying not to dig out Arteta here so apologies if it seems that way, but with each passing game that Raya looks even a little bit shaky and Ramsdale doesn’t get an opportunity, we have to keep this in mind.
Now, of course that could all change on Saturday and personally I’d love to see Ramsdale come back in between the sticks. Not because I have issues with Raya, but because I really want the idea of having two ‘keepers equally matched and equally played to be a real ‘thing’. Think about it: imagine the comfort it brings to know that we’re playing 55 games a season and if we suffer an injury or a suspension to one ‘keeper, then the other one equally good comes in. It’d be amazing. But for every game that Raya stays in despite performances, the clearer it is that he is number one and that Ramsdale’s future will eventually lie elsewhere.
I loved the idea that there would be certain games for Ramsdale and certain games for Raya. I tried to convince myself that it was Arteta’s thinking too that in games where we needed to slow the play down, draw a team on to us, so we could hit them with their team higher up the pitch in our half, that Raya could be that guy. Or that if we had Zinchenko on the pitch that he ostensibly shifted to a central midfield, Gabriel became the left back, Raya essentially operated as our left centre back. That sounded awesome and innovative. Then, in some games, perhaps where we needed a little more fire and emotion like a Liverpool away, that Ramsdale would be the guy. That to me sounded brilliant. But as we are now learning – I think (maybe we need another half a dozen games to equivocally prove it) – that this isn’t really the case and that Arteta and Cana just prefer Raya.
Linking it back to Tomiyasu, I think that could be an example of where Arteta adopts a meritocratic approach; Tomi has been knocking on the door, he deserves to play, let’s get him in the team and it is Zinchenko’s job to displace him. But it is a lot easier to do that if you are an outfield player. Tomiyasu is going to have more impact on his body, suffer more fatigue through the distance he has to travel, he is more likely to fall out of form, compared to a ‘keeper. Goalkeepers don’t really get injured that much and they certainly don’t suffer the same level of fatigue. So saying to one that they have to win the jersey back through performances of the other becomes more difficult. Take this weekend, for example, where we play Sheffield United. You’d think – and hope – that we see very little of whoever is in goal. If Raya hardly gets a kick all game, how can you judge if he should be replaced? You can’t.
Sorry. I feel like the goalkeeper situation has become such a boring talking point and I think even I’m labouring it a bit now. So with that in mind I’ll probably put a pause in today’s chit-chat and instead direct you towards the post Sevilla pod that James did yesterday on our Same Old Arsenal channel. Have a listen here.