On Injury Crisis, Lemar, Barkley & More

Pre-season is almost over and Arsène got some practice in on giving injury updates before the weekend. Gabriel? Still injured. Jack Wilshere? Not back in training yet. Santi Cazorla? Who knows? Business as usual for the Frenchman in being the doom merchant.

His world was thrown out of kilter yesterday when he ‘opened’ the pitch at Borehamwood. Immediately on cutting the ribbon, he looked skyward, searching desperately for the banner telling him his cutting technique was all wrong.

Santi is morphing into this squad’s Tomas Rosicky: romanticising about what might have been had he been fit, helps numb the pain of reality for some. A point or two extra here or there? Perhaps but that’s to obliterate last season’s weaknesses entirely. In a parallel universe, the same conversation is being held about the cost of Aaron Ramsey’s absence.

The conversation about Alexis was brief;

Alexis and Mustafi, their first training session will be on Sunday, the day we play against Sevilla [in the Emirates Cup].

“They are practising on the day.”

Inevitably, thoughts turned to which of them would be used against Leicester. After assessing their condition, it’s a case of needs must.

“Of course it depends as well on what is the need in the squad, what is their quality. All of these things together make your decision. Do you put them on the bench when they are not ready? It is easier to put a striker on the bench than a defender, sometimes. Because in a short period they can make an impact. We’ll see.”

If either surfaces against Leicester, it’s either the injury crisis arriving unseasonably early or a damning indictment of the players we have at the club. We shouldn’t even be thinking about playing either Mustafi or Alexis against Leicester, possibly not even Stoke City.

Skeletor vs He-Man

That said, you’d certainly find out Mustafi’s physical condition at the Bet365. Mark Hughes’ Stoke aren’t as agricultural as Pulis’ but let’s face it, “Blackeye Rovers” wasn’t a lightly given sobriquet to his time in charge at Blackburn.

The question of who Wenger’s back three will be at the start of the season isn’t tricky: Holding, Mertesacker, and Monreal; Sead Kolasinac on the left and Hector Bellerin on the right. Nothing makeshift about that defence at all, is there?

Should you feel a little nervous about it, I can mention Wembley and the FA Cup final, when the champions were over-run and deservedly beaten. We need the whole team to perform at that level not just the defence for the improvement we need in the Premier League.

We have a back-up plan, of course. Mohamed Elneny played in the centre of defence, while Ashley Maitland-Niles stood in the centre of defence as the Chelsea attacked whirled past him in a cinematic video effect. I have no issue with Elneny unleashing his inner Beckenbauer, Passarella, or Krol.

He isn’t a first-choice but an alternative option; at FC Carrier Bag in the Europa League group stage, alternatives are what you need. Everton found that the home games are going to be tough going with a bus depot parked in these matches. Away from home, having a midfielder with a range of passing which eclipses the usual defensive lumps would be an advantage.

Personally, I think Xhaka would be better in that role but Wenger has more use for him in the centre of the midfield than further back. That would mean delving head-first into the market again, which is something I don’t think is on the cards. Talk this morning is of Ross Barkley if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leaves for Chelsea.

By the power of Greyskull

Thomas Lemar is reportedly off the cards, with Monaco rejecting the latest £50m bid. The French club screwed City for £50m+ for Mendy, close to £100m for Silva as well. We’re likely to move into the £70m range if we want to tempt them into selling an attacking midfielder.

Whether we’re serious in our pursuit of him is another matter. I guess that comes from the outcome of contract talks, not least with Oxlade-Chamberlain but also Alexis and Özil.

When that will happen is unclear, certainly for Alexis. He’s feeling an ickle bit ill…

Finally, there’s a new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox and a review of a superb box set up later.

’til Tomorrow.

34 thoughts on “On Injury Crisis, Lemar, Barkley & More

  1. Lemar – I remember all the hype and excitement about Nasri and that didn’t work out too well….

    Ref players and fitness – surely a this level they ought to be ready willing and able to play with still a couple of weeks to go to the Prem kick off.

    though as it is a Friday no doubt we’ll fail to peform

  2. Can’t see Sanchez not featuring against Leicester, clearly not a full 90 but certainly 60 mins. Mustafi I don’t think will be who knows.

    I say we aren’t getting Lemar so move on to other options, there are plenty of others but please please please show no interest in Barkley.

  3. Another excellent post.

    How has it come to this, that the Club has so many of the players going into their final year of their contract(s)?
    It beggars belief.

    If this morning reports have any ‘grain’ if truth re the Ox I’d sell him. He had a decent season last year. He is never going to be a nailed on midfield starter at AFC. He played on the left and right as a wing back and acquitted himself well. He had Moses in his pocket.

    I remember with great clarity his post match FA Cup interview on the pitch where he stated he wanted to emulate S Gerrard. If Conte buys him I don’t see him starting any where in midfield for Chelsea.
    You touched on something of great note YW. A Sanchez and Mustafi should be no where near the bench never mind the Team for this Emirates Cup. We should be looking to use all the other resources at our disposal.

    I fear that there is a ‘Vibe’ of great uncertainty at the Club. The Players must be affected, concerned by the Sanchez, Ozil and Ox situation. It can’t be conducive to a good working environment no matter what AW says publicly.

    Meanwhile the likes of TW sit quiet, alleze with his head under the parapet ready to start another season. Not so for K Gibbs C Jenkinson JW M Debuchy reality is stsrting to bite. They must all be shown the Door.

    The start to last season

  4. Thanks Yogi,

    I’m pretty relaxed with that back 3 and just as happy for Elneny to slot into the middle for Mert. There’s also Chambers to consider unless Palace have it already wrapped up? I think Wenger needs to go in for a pure DM. Leaving Xhaka as a box to box CM though I’m not totally convinced with Xhaka yet. Leaving Ramsey to fight it out with Ozil as the 10 or play one or the other depending on how we set up. I’d rather see Ramsey used in more of a traditional 10 in behind and Ozil used in a front 3 on the right.

  5. Afternoon,

    Anybody else thinking that Alexis might try to force the issue? Will be interesting to see if he flies in this weekend, or if he decides he is too sick to travel.

  6. Stat of the day – offered without comment.

    Lucas Perez: Played a direct hand in a Champions League goal more frequently than any other player last season (every 27.2 mins of action)

  7. C:
    Jonny,

    Just think, if it was Giroud everybody would be banging on about how he deserves more natch time.

    Ha, if anyone could do with less natch time it’s girooo. 😉

  8. Something smacks of the fake with the Sanchez posture – not just the illness (how lame is that photo), but the entire situation.

    It seems as though the delay on the Neymar situation is to do with crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s regarding financial fair play – apparently UEFA have now signed off. That would mean the final decision is in Neymar’s court.

    However, if that deal has stretched the rules to breaking, it would seem unlikely PSG are going to make a move for Sanchez also. Which would leave Manchester City- and I find it hard to believe no one (as far as I am aware) from City has expressed definitive interest. (also interesting to see City looking enthused and cohesive in LA – they did not look wanting).

    So, unless I hear differently, Alexis is just being tosser.

    I presume he is going to agitate within boundaries hoping someone comes in to whisk him away. Whilst Sanchez might have little option to play for us next season, the sulky teenager crap doesn’t bode well and I still don’t think the season will pass without grief.

  9. Hm, is it Kellys Heroes with Donald Sutherland, Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas?

  10. Jonny

    Lucas balanced his stat line by being directly involved in a Premier league goal every 265 minutes.

    C @ 3:01

    For what its worth Giroud was directly involved in a Premier league goal every 76.6 minutes and was the second most efficient goal scorer per minute in the league last season. Despite all that, I don’t ever want him to be a regular starter and a lot of people want Arsene to sell him. Myself I think OG is a good fit as our impact sub and I have not seen anyone suggesting that he should ever be anything more then that.

  11. Bill,

    I was just having fun mate. As much as I think he could be a impact sub, if somebody offered me 20-25m for Giroud I would sell him in a heartbeat and go buy Dembele from Celtic!

  12. Some webb sights here are writings that Neymar to PSG is a done deal!

    Hm, that would I imagine throw a bucket of cold water on a Sanchez deal.
    Don’t know what to think.

    On one hand I think it’s optimistic to believe that he will play his heart out when he don’t wanna stay. There are risks for injuries that could lower his value next year as well as a World Cup where he probably want to excel in order to maximize his next contract.

    On the other hand maybe he just wants to play football and can’t help himself when there’s a ball loose and he’s on the field.

  13. C

    Last year Giroud started a few games but it was the end of him as a regular starting CF. You and I have been talking about it for a while and the end should have come 3 years ago. Hopefully Lacazette will play well enough that the only time Giroud will ever be in the starting 11 is early round cup games or perhaps an early round Europa league game or 2. That said, Giroud did a very good job as an impact sub last season and finished the season coming off the bench with the assist that won the FA cup. His bench role is exactly where he should be. If you are willing to look past the preconceived bias I think its reasonable to say that Giroud earned the chance to be on the bench on match day squads as our impact sub. No?

  14. C

    Fair enough. I would take Dembele also. You know I have never been a fan of Giroud as our regular CF. However, based on what he did last year when he came off the bench, there are plenty of other players on the squad I would sell before Giroud.

  15. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    There is also that requirement to put himself in the shop window a bit to get the best deal he can get next summer. If he doesn’t have as much of an impact next season teams will start to wonder if it’s age, or just sulking that is effecting his performances. Even if it is just sulking, there maybe some teams who will be unimpressed that a player would consider downing tools. I’m not a fan of players who say they won’t play for a club again, so they can force a move but it is an effective tactic. If you know you are staying for the season, but will be gone next summer you probably want to ensure possible suitors don’t think you are too much trouble. Many already know he’s got a bit of an attitude, but that has been all about wanting to play as much as possible and wanting to win. If he starts to show signs that he would down tools during his last season there may be some managers who would think again.

  16. Bill/C
    Lacazette is going to play out wide. Giroud starts at CF. how many times have we been down this road?

  17. Wavey,

    Yes, very true. Probably wouldn’t do his next contract any good downing tools.

    Though if he were to have an indifferent season and then having a awesome World Cup it might enhance his contract?

  18. Also, if it did come down to Barkley or Mahrez, I would take Mahrez over Barkley. I am not a Mahrez fan, but with that said, I do wonder and think in a line-up with Lacazette and Ozil that he would not only provide them with space to operate as he prefers to hug the sideline thus spreading his defender but also because when he is motivated he has shown he can produce but I do wonder if he would up his game. With Barkley, last season and the season before were quite telling for me, yes he produced in a stretch but I think there is also a reason that Koeman dropped him not only for attitude but his ability to function in a team and because he roams, we don’t need him as we already have Ramsey who is ill-disciplined. The other thing with Barkley, as DFS has already stated, he plays in that box-to-box role and with that even if he goes missing attacking wise, defensively he will really go missing not just during stretches of a match but stretches of long periods of the seasons and I can forgive a box-to-box for going missing in attack but defensively he needs to do his job time and time again especially if you play in a 343 or a 4231.

  19. C,

    Some good points there.

    Agree with Mahrez – he wasn’t first choice but if he could perform to his potential and was unequivocally given ‘that’ role it would be an interesting signing when we appear to be slipping in the transfer market.

    If you can get out of one headspace to another and embrace the Mahrez idea would he not be an upgrade over Walcott or Oxlade Chamberlain? However, this would bring into question why are we hanging on to the likes of those two (particularly as they are sellable).

    There is a desperate need to shake this team up.

    It was attempted last season but whatever was undertaken was not enough. I would really love to see 4 key signings – Kolasinac was a coup on a free, Lacazette was a tremedous boost. Under present circumstances Mahrez would be a plus…and then another midfielder?

    The question is how much does the club want to evolve?

    For instance, contrary to what some might argue if we released Wilshere, Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain (or some combination of two of the three) the effect could be positive. The three (and a few others) embody what Arsenal have been but who at this point is kidding themself they
    represent the future of Arsenal, let a alone a golden one?

  20. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    Perhaps, but that would suggest that his ineffective season were down to a lack of effort. Given that he signed a contract until next season and was only being asked to see it out and then be able to go to another team for a big contract, his actions would be seen as nothing more than sulking. If I were considering him for my team on a free next summer I would be concerned about his negative attitude. You can tolerate a player being a bit disruptive in the changing room because he wants to win, but not because he’s sulking.

  21. The press are having a field day with Alexis’ declaration that he’s ill. They see it as the first shot in a concerted effort to get himself out of the club. What I don’t understand is why his first move would be this when the club are saying that he has not put in a request to leave. Wouldn’t he and his agent want to try to find an amicable arrangement first? It would surely make it easier when negotiating who we would sell him to.

  22. Wavey,

    Hi Wavey

    A “request to leave” is basically handing in a transfer request, which would mean he would forego his “loyalty” bonuses.

    Bizarre, yes, but it seems to be a recurring issue in football now.

    I suspect the player is conscious that he’ll be 30 next year, which will reduce his scope to get a large contract for any significant period, hence trying to force it now, but I imagine (perhaps I’m giving them too much credit), the club is also conscious of this and feel they can leverage that too their advantage, maybe even get him to sign an extension?

  23. MikeSA,

    I’m wondering how important the loyalty bonus would be when compared to the alleged £320,000 a week (minimum) he is expecting from elsewhere? One more season on £170,000 (?) a week at Arsenal would mean he is out of pocket to the tune of close to £8m if he just serves out his contract. If he thinks he is getting both by hinting at a season of disruption I would hope the club plays hard ball. I would offer him the chance to go provided he actually gives up his loyalty bonus, otherwise he stays until next summer.

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