The morning after the night before. The night in question where much-needed rains fell across the land and continued to do so until around an hour ago. !Hola, Señor Sol¡
During which time Arsène met the press and announced Alexis’ injury. This just hours after Martin Keown declared the Chilean should see out his contract with “dignity”; it’s going to be a long season. Last week, I offered the view that Alexis shouldn’t play against Chelsea or be involved in the Leicester match. This stomach strain keeps him out of the trip to Stoke as well.
Despite enthusiastic energy and an obvious love of football, it’s not doing him any good rushing back. We saw against West Ham a couple of seasons ago how ineffective an unfit Alexis is. I believe fitness-wise, we are in better shape than previous seasons but there’s still another 36 hours to kick-off; plenty of time for that to go tits up.
The same would normally apply to Shkodran Mustafi but I suspect the concern about Per Mertesacker’s head injury is such that his compatriot will be on the bench at least. While the situation with the centre backs is reminiscent to the opening day of last season, I don’t feel as concerned by the options as then. Rob Holding’s progress continues to impress and a good season will put him on the fringes of the England squad for next summer’s World Cup. Surely.
More immediately though, we know Holding and Monreal will be two of the three centre backs. I’m guessing Mustafi will be third, although Kolasinac may get the nod. There won’t be a recurrence of the Elneny experiment with Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil both absent. The Egyptian’s partnership with Granit Xhaka on Sunday is one worth repeating against Leicester.
Old Habits Die Hard
The Standard’s James Olley ran an interesting piece on Mario Lemina. The Juventus midfielder scored well on our “matrix” and was favoured by some of the scouts. The theme of the article is Wenger reasserting his authority over the transfer policy and there’s very much a ‘back to the future’ element theme.
Wenger blocked bids for Lemina, targeting other areas of the team. An indication of a new pragmatism or a show of strength, asserting his newly-rediscovered powerbase? In this instance, thankfully so. It raises questions about the “matrix” and its’ purpose. Lemina, it declared, would be a good squad player. To my mind, we don’t need squad players at the moment; we have enough already. And if we’re adding more talent to the XI, then some have to drop down a level and become squad players.
Arsène commented that the situation we face isn’t by any means unique. Fellow Premier League managers at yesterday’s soiree had the same problem of being unable to shift players on. That might explain why the likes of Gibbs and Jenkinson are still at the club; that and their high wages.
It seems unlikely that anyone else is leaving just yet. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is reportedly the subject of a £25m bid which I’d hope the club would play with a straight bat just on value alone before they hit it out of the ground because it’s come from Chelsea.
If we’re playing hardball with Alexis, we should do the same with others; the same principle applies. Olley remarks that some of the board were keen to sell the Chilean if a £50m+ bid was received; easy to say when you know it isn’t happening.
Transfer Rumours and Small Talk
Arsène killed the talk of PSG, claiming that he hadn’t spoken to the chairman in a while and that he also read the French media declaring that the Parisiens wanted Kylain Mbappe and that was the end of their transfer window. Sort of like us selling Alexis to City.
That gives Barcelona a free run at Philippe Coutinho and they cheated by catching a flight instead. Straight into a meeting with Liverpool which more or less quashed tales of their interest in Mesut Özil.
As for Arsenal, we’re still “active in the market” but no closer to signing anyone or shifting anyone off the books permanently.
Which is all the Arsenal stuff for today. There’s a new Record of the Week on Dad’s Jukebox for all you hip cats and groovy f*ckers, to quote Jools Holland.