Turns out that going Invincible isn’t for everyone, eh?
Well, if you’re going to play that high a line against any Premier League side whilst down to ten men, then you absolutely get what you deserve. But I’ll speak no more about them today I think, instead reflecting on what it means for us, because that result means that after Liverpool drew away to Luton on Sunday, it was only really City who gained any sort of ground after this latest match week, so I think in the circumstances we can all feel a teeny-weeny bit better. The Scum imploded, they picked up injuries and suspensions, so hopefully there will be a spiral of negativity after so much media fawning in recent weeks.
As for us, our attention shifts to Sevilla at home tomorrow night in Champions League and Arteta will no doubt have a chin wag with the media at some stage today. There will probably be one or two questions from the press about the game at the weekend and the statement, but I guess the good thing about the games coming so thick and fast is that we can all just move on and focus on what lies ahead.
The big hope has to be that Odegaard’s injury isn’t long term. Him missing from the side on Saturday was quite a blow in the end and whilst I think there are only a minority of fans who think he isn’t as mustard as many think, I think the vast bulk of us recognise the integral role he plays in Arteta’s team.
He’s not just the captain, he’s also in many cases the leader of our press and whilst Kai Havertz was ok in the North East, I don’t think many would disagree with me when I say that it is most certainly a big downgrade from Odegaard to the German. With Odegaard in the side we have a guy who has built up that relationship with Saka and is often combining with our Starboy on that right hand side. On Saturday it felt to me as though Saka was isolated, a little quieter than usual and whilst it’s not as if Havertz wasn’t passing to him, perhaps there is an element of him not being as aware of Saka’s movements and runs that affected the Englishman’s impact on the game.
We also didn’t see White overlapping as much and that might have had an impact too, but I just think that when you take somebody out of the team with whom most of the football flows in the final third as it does with Odegaard, then you are inevitably going to suffer at something in your build up.
That’s not to say that this was the only reason why I think we created less at St James’ Park. I think we all know that going forward there wasn’t enough across the whole team. But I read somewhere this morning that our first choice front three have only played together once – maybe twice – this season. That gives an indication as to why it’s all felt a little stuttery this season so far; we haven’t been able to field our preferred XI at all since the season started. Injuries have been taking their toll and I don’t know about you, but I wonder if this is just going to end up being ‘one of those seasons’ for us at this rate. Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps we’ll start to see returning players and perhaps in a month’s time we’ll be lining up with the likes of Partey, Odegaard, Jesus et al from kick off, but we’re now almost a third of the way in to the season and these niggles keep persisting.
The team has done a good job so far of getting by and picking up a decent accumulation of points. And for tomorrow night and the weekend game against Burnley perhaps there will enough in the squad to get us over the line, but beyond the international break we really need to start seeing our best players off the treatment table and on to the pitch. We’re already seeing ‘115 charges FC’ start to build up a consistent points lead in the league and if we drop too many more before Christmas you could see any title hope talk quickly diminish, so it does feel as though if we want to keep that flickering flame alight still, we’re going to need to see the likes of Gabriel Jesus come in and Eddie Nketiah drop out. Maybe I’m reading too much in to the news that Gabriel Jesus has been called up to the Brazil squad in a couple of week’s time, but for that to happen then conversations between player, club and national team must have been hopeful in order for that to even be a consideration. We saw Bukayo Saka called up and then quickly withdrawn during the last pointless international break, but to have a player like Jesus fly all the way over to Brazil just so he can have a medical and confirm he isn’t fit, would be crazy. So my hope is that he is progressing well and if he can be available for Burnley (fingers crossed) then that would be a huge boost. If he doesn’t make the match day squad for that game, then Arsenal really should be asking questions to the Brazilian national team for calling him up.
So let’s see what Arteta says about some of his currently-injured players. If he comes out today and says Gabby and martin are out for tomorrow but back for Saturday, then I’d have to say I’d probably take that right now. The irony is that Eddie at home to Burnley is probably fine, but we want to get our main striker back as soon as possible, please.
That’s all have have for you today. James is doing a pre match pod today at lunchtime-ish so if you fancy listening in check out the Same Old Arsenal pod channels this lunchtime for that.