Morning folks and welcome to Thursday. I have my work Christmas party this evening, so whether I’m in any fit state tomorrow morning to drop a few words on this virtual page I don’t know, but for now I’m good so will crack on for now, although there hasn’t been a presser, there’s little more to say following the PSV game which was a couple of days now, so it might be one thin on the ground on content. BUt let’s give it a go.

I suppose I could talk about the Conti Cup and the Arsenal Women and the fact they overcame the Scum on penalties, with Viv Miedema making her first start in about a year. Fantastic news for Arsenal, the depth of the squad is starting to show through and off the back of the win last weekend against Chelsea, I think those ladies are in a pretty good place mentally and momentum-wise right now. It’s funny you know, the last couple of year’s I’ve started to pay more and more attention to the Women’s game. If you’d have asked me about it five year’s ago I’d have given a bit of a ‘meh’ response. Some of it is probably that there is much more coverage and the TV channels have – for a change – done a really good thing in making the game more accessible for the average armchair fan. But I also think that the quality has improved massively. Maybe that is because of the investment in the game, the fact that after that World Cup in France all those years ago we have younger kids suddenly wanting to play football a bit more, or maybe it’s a combination of everything, but when I’ve watched games now compared to six or seven years ago it does feel as though the standard has been raised.

And I also mean the standard of the competition. I suspect the regular Arsenal Women watchers might tell me that five year’s ago Arsenal’s quality was always good, but was the quality of those they were up against always that good? I don’t know, because I didn’t watch, but the few times I did watch I did think that the standard wasn’t that great. But now I watch it and recognise it has come a long way – and that is fantastic for football as a whole. Ultimately it is a sport that can be played by everyone, so should be positioned as that.

And any Arsenal fan who can’t celebrate a win against The Scum ain’t a real Arsenal fan – that’s for darn sure.

There’s some rumblings about a guy from Santos that we’re supposedly interested in and I was about to say “the transfer window is miles away” but then I realised it opens in 18 days – so in just over two weeks time – and suddenly it feels like we should be thinking about how this squad can be supplemented. You only have to look at the fact that we couldn’t heavily rotate our team against PSV to realise that we probably need to add to the team in January, but quite where that is remains to be seen. We have a fair few injuries right now, but they’re not injuries that mean you absolutely must go in to the market. It’s a tough one because we’re hearing good noises about Timber, Tomiyasu is rumoured to be out for most of January and when he does come back he’ll probably be asked to head off to the Asia Cup. Japan’s first game is on 14th January and if he’s expected to be back around 20th January, I suspect Japan will want him with them so they can assess him. The final is on 10th February so realistically we probably aren’t seeing Tomiyasu in an Arsenal shirt until March as he’ll probably need a week off.

The Timber injury is the unknown quantity because Arteta had glowing things to say about him earlier in the week, saying “he’s flying” and it gets you excited that we might see him soon. But He did follow that up by saying that he won’t be back with the team any time soon. At best I’d be expecting him to be ready towards the back end of February, but there’s a big chunk of matches to be played there and with Tomiyasu also probably not around until March, do we need another option in defence? It feels strange to say that because at the start of the season you’d have said that we probably have enough cover:

  • Left back options = Zinchenko, Tomiyasu, Timber and Kiwior as an auxiliary option
  • Centre back options = Gabriel, Saliba, Kiwior, White, Tomiyasu and I think even Timber as an auxiliary option
  • Right back options = White, Tomiyasu, Timber then Partey, then even Cedric as an auxiliary option (that we’d never really want to use)

So you look at it like that and it seems like that’s a pretty good collective. But in that one of the most versatile players we have is Tomiyasu and given his injury record that actually makes the list i’ve mapped out there look quite light. You take Tomiyasu out of the mix and we have two left backs, two right backs, four centre halves – without having to take in to account the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ guys. So perhaps this is part of Arteta’s thinking. The problem is, of course, that when you hit March and the crunch period of the season, if everyone suddenly becomes fit, you’re going to have unhappy players in the camp. That doesn’t make for great camaraderie if you have too many of them.

So in many ways I sympathise with the January decisions that Arsenal need to make in the market. I do think that an attacking option is a slightly easier one to justify, because we have a clear need for aq rapid wide player who can cover for Saka and Martinelli. On Tuesday we had Trossard left, Nketiah up top and Nelson wide right. Nelson did alright, but I like Trossard centrally, so him moving centrally solves a few cover problems, but means a space in the flanks that I think we need to fill.

In midfield I think we’re ok, although that too has a question mark over it, because we are missing Partey until probably the West Ham game at the earliest, then the AFCON starts in January which means he’s gone from after the Liverpool FA Cup game until potentially mid-February. But it is what is is on that one – we’re getting used to life without him so I’ll not delve in to too much detail there.

Instead I shall wrap up today’s ramblings by saying I hope you have a great one and I’ll catch you all tomorrow. I’m thinking about doing a preview game ahead of Brighton tomorrow evening so will keep you posted on that.

Ciao amigos!