You know it’s a slow news week when Fleet Street are struggling to find anything to write on the Arsenal. Even Liverpool leaking goals like a dodgy sieve and Real Madrid having a ‘Weston Supermare’, losing 3 straight home games doesn’t make the cut. Who knows? Maybe the others don’t sell enough papers to push advertising revenues up. So it must be that Arséne Wenger is punishing Alexis Sanchez for his threatened mutiny and hissy fit about the non-move to Manchester City.
I’m struggling to recall any season that started in the last few years with Alexis being fit or on time for class like everyone else. He always seems to be playing for Chile in some competition somewhere during the summer. It makes perfect sense that with Lacazette, Giroud and Welbeck – at least until Wednesday night – fighting fit, there’s no need to rush the Chilean back. As with Jack Wilshere, the league cup and Europa League seems to be a good compromise to ease key players back in. Why that would seem like punishment to anyone is a head scratcher. We’ve been desperate for Wenger to manage players back into the team instead of rushing them back from injury or extended leave. When he does it, he is second guessed. Probably after he’s finished playing Mobile Pokies.
Is It October Already? It must be
As regular as clockwork, the injury gods seem to be waking from their slumber. It’s not bad enough that they’ve done a ‘Tomás Rosicky’ on Santiago Carzola. It’s that October time of season when they wake to claim their pound of flesh. One would be forgiven for thinking that Carzola was no longer an Arsenal player. I do feel sorry for Danny Welbeck. His confidence and impact has been growing with a steady stream of games. It’s hard to say whether Arsenal’s version of 3 weeks out for a groin problem will turn out to be something else altogether. These things seem to get a life of their own.
No matter, Alexis should be adequate cover, if you can call it that. With a chance for the 1st XI to focus on the Premier League while playing the wider squad in the Europa league, there should be enough time for Welbeck to be eased back in. There’s also the small matter of the World Cup next summer, and for the sake of Arsenal’s season and England’s prospects, Welbeck needs to be fighting fit.
Let’s Serve Up The Right Horses For The Right Courses
The midfield question is intriguing. I don’t think Ozil will be back for West Brom on Monday, though once he’s fit again, I don’t envisage any situation that he isn’t picked in any configuration. Both Alex Iwobi and Jack Wilshere present some interesting options. I like Iwobi even though he’s had some good games and not so good ones. I think if he has a run of games, he gets better. What I like about him is that he is direct and drives the team forward in a different way to Ozil. Wilshere’s performance, albeit against Doncaster Rovers was also very encouraging. Li’l Jack seems to me to be a player with a point to prove.
The squad will become much stronger if Arséne exercises these options for different opponents. The Europa League first round, as well as the cup competitions present the ideal opportunity to give squad players like Iwobi and Wilshere prime time to keep their match sharpness. But in some Premier League games where things are not happening, it won’t hurt to unleash Iwobi or jack to drive that midfield forward. They both bring something to counter our predictability and they both have the work rate defensively.
I tend to think that in some games, Ozil is actually a liability because we end up defending with 9 instead of 10 men. Yes, he can have that one moment of magic that shifts the game, but we need to aim more for the balance of the team that we achieved at Stamford Bridge without Ozil and Alexis.
Of Spices, Cockney Slang and Our Spanish Peter Crouch
It’s not often you see the camaraderie between our players. Hector Bellerin is convinced our Nacho Monreal is Crouchie’s twin, though he ponders what Crouchie was fed at birth to grow taller than Nacho. What intrigued me more about the one on one banter by our Spanish boys is Bellerin accent; more Stoke Newington than Barcelona. Not only does he talk “Cockney”, he’s got the slang to go with it. I didn’t even know “Spice” means a fine girl. Maybe it’s just my age, or it’s been a while since I watched EastEnders.
I got thinking though. If our defenders have that sort of closeness and team spirit, why are we sometimes in ‘Keystone Cops’ territory? It can’t be communication; the back 5 all speak excellent English. I don’t think it’s even necessary to have the visibly audible “grab-your-fellow-player-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck” Tony Adams-esque kind of marshalling the defence. Some old school commentators and punters think that sort of tactile and audible leader is what Arsenal misses. With some of the hapless goals we’ve conceded, simple communication and an expectation that you can depend on your team mate to do their job or to cover will do.
We saw that camaraderie this past Sunday. The point we got at Chelsea was monumental and was the sort of confidence building result we needed. The performance was even better. The team must maintain that at West Brom on Monday.
YW asked me to point you in the direction of Dad’s Jukebox where there’s a new 2007 playlist.
Have a great weekend good people.