STONE COLD FRIDAY: Give Me October, I’ll Give You The Gremlins

It must be October because the injury gremlins are here. The month when national teams borrow players and return them crocked for Arsenal. The time when we start trying everything from horse placenta to cryochambers. This time round, our defensive personnel are battling sore hips, thigh strains and Achilles problems.

We should already be used to this, right? It’s an occupational hazard you might say. That’s why you have a squad, that’s why you keep your options open. I’m still scratching my head as to why we sold Gabriel, the only plausible reason being that the Brazilian wanted guaranteed pitch time for a chance to get into the Brazil World Cup squad. We already knew that Laurent Koscielny has a long-term Achilles problem and it can give way at any time. With Shkodran Mustafi now out for at least 6 weeks, Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker will get more action than they expected.

No matter, we have a stretch of 6 winnable games in 3 competitions placed before us. Not to say that they’ll be a walk in the park, they won’t. If Watford taught us anything last season, it’s that complacency and showing disrespect by not taking our opponent seriously is the quickest way to losing 3 points. The next stretch of games is a great opportunity for our fringe players to make their mark on the team, especially young Mr Holding.

Squeezing the Lemonade Out or Scraping the Barrel?

Some people head for the gym and unleash their anger and disappointment on a punching bag. Others go off the rails with any number of excesses. But we do have a curious case of Alexis Sanchez. At 29, it’s hard to under-estimate the impact on him after Chile failed to make it to Russia 2018. This must be a very big blow for him. But he is also a professional with the pride of a lion, and someone who is clearly in the shop window.

You would hope that all his frustration, anger and disappointment will be unleashed on any of the opponents that come our way. That he will use his desire to win and be the best to exorcise the disappointment out of his system. Wenger will have a key role to play in supporting Alexis to quickly get back into the right frame of mind. The manager has admitted that the Chilean isn’t in a good place after their loss to Brazil that kicked them out of the World Cup. Well, there’s Ospina’s enthusiasm to try save a shot at goal he didn’t need to, earning Peru a point and ensuring Chile doesn’t make it to Russia. We won’t talk about that now though, will we?

Have Boots, Will Travel – But Only for a Fortune

You can just picture it. The sound bites, the PR statements – “I’ve always said I wanted to stay and my heart has always been at Arsenal”.

So Ozil wants to stay? It’s more plausible to believe Wenger when he says that Ozil’s agent is making the right noises towards extending a deal. The alternative view comes from the tabloids who are linking him with everyone from Manchester United to Gor Mahia FC in Kenya, and that’s just the January transfer window.

Having put Arsenal in a precarious position with key player contracts, the club have no choice but to prepare for all eventualities. That includes the German surprising everyone with a coupon busting new contract for Arsenal. Ozil also needs to be in the right head space if he is to get back to his best for Arsenal. It might help that few teams if any, have shown real interest and made bids for him. Perhaps they’re waiting to sign him on a free before or after the World Cup.

Let’s Keep Our Eye on the Right Ball

You know the press are still going to milk the Ozil and Alexis wantaway stories to the death. However, with Manchester United playing Liverpool in the early kick-off, points are going to drop around us and we have to focus on the job and do are part in quietly smuggling ourselves into the top 4. Arsenal can least afford to be caught up in the drama of a transfer window 3 months away. Apart from the injury threats, the international break came at a time we were on the high. We must maintain that momentum regardless of the personnel available to us.

9 points are up for grabs in the next 3 weeks, Everton being the most likely club to give us grief. One would hope that they are still in turmoil when we visit Goodison Park on the 22nd, but approaching that match with lady luck as our strategy isn’t a smart move. We also have the advantage of rotating the squad for the 2 matches against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa league and Norwich in the League Cup.

That should give our key players, especially Koscielny enough room to avoid the red zone. Rob Holding has an excellent chance for progress and confidence building. Mathieu Debuchy must be wondering where things went so wrong when he still can’t even get into the team with our defence crocked as it is. Even for the Europa and League Cup teams, Da Silva has a better chance to get into the squad than the Frenchman.

Glad that proper football is back though. Have a great weekend good people.

28 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Give Me October, I’ll Give You The Gremlins

  1. Good morning folks,

    Never mind Sanchez, what about poor Aaron dumped out of the World Cup and given the joint lowest rating, 5, for his performance in the last Wales match. What kind of place is he in? It should certainly not be the No. 10 spot against Watford.

    Koscielny is facing a fitness test before Saturday’s game so there must be a serious doubt about him. Why take the risk? Just give him the time he needs to get fully fit, that he may avoid aggravating the condition and and being out for an even longer period.

  2. A very good Post, Darius, neatly packaged so that even after a late night and even later getting up this a.m. I enjoyed it.

    And good morning, bonjour, guten Morgen. 🙂

  3. Good stuff Darius. Nice to see you back in the groove, like old times.

    Looking forward to the Watford game, rugby and NFL this weekend.

    Are we not approaching the bit of the season where the wheels traditionally fall off the wagon?

  4. It seems ages since the Arsenal last played, and I am looking forward to that, but the game I am also hoping will be a pick of the week, is the Manure v ‘Piddle match.

    That is especially the case as I want to see the spiteful little tart Maureen face up to the eccentric, gurning Piddle manager.

    What is the likely outcome — Maureen crying and wanting to scratch somebody, or Klippety losing his cool and leaping yards into the air. We will see. 🙂

  5. HenryB,

    I’m really looking forward to the Liverpool United game. I want Liverpool to win but they have a defence that leaks like a sieve. 1 win in 7 since they gave us a hiding and 14 goals conceded doesn’t look good though.

  6. Top 4 target is a big shout at this point. Consistency in scraping out wins is key at the moment. It is what wins the league: consistency.

  7. Watford are unlikely to be pushovers – that Abdoulaye Doucoure looks like quite the midfielder – a total steal. Those damn Frenchie’s just keep on churning them out, eh?

    Be interesting to see what state of mind Sanchez is in – I fancy he might be in the mood to tear Watford apart.

  8. I O K,

    The thumping loss to Pool at the beginning of the season was hard to take, but in the grand scheme of things this can happen. It does bug me tho that we were the ones that fell to a very good performance by them, which as you have said, seems to have been a one off.

    Like you, I hope they give Manure a similar pummelling this time.

    Interestingly, in addition to the £200m (?) previously spent by van Gaal, since Maureen took over, I understand that he has spent an additional £309m. Who said he buys success? 🙂
    In the same period, Klippetty Klop spent half that at ‘only’ £149m.

    Anyway, talking about it only makes me want Pool to wipe the swagger off Maureen’s face. even more. [Can you have a ‘swagger’ on a face? Perhaps ‘sneeringly simpering superiority’ suits better?] 😀

  9. Great post Darius.

    Hopefully Sanchez will play well for the rest of his time in an Arsenal shirt. We are probably going to need his production if we hope to compete for 4th place.

    I think Arsene sold Gabriel for 2 reasons. First he has not been that good. Perhaps the biggest reason was Arsene has done a miserable job of handling our wage structure and he was trying to dump wages. Unfortunately most of the players Arsene wanted to sell are on such high wages that none of the worlds smaller teams were willing to take them. Players like Debuchy, Joel Campbell, Lukas Perez, Jenks are on “big team wages but they are not good enough to play on any of the worlds big teams but their wages are to high for the worlds middle sized and small teams and that made them basically unsellable. Players like Gabriel and Wojo and Ox were still sellable so they had to be moved to bring down our wage bill. Arsene even tried to sell Elneny and Mustafi

  10. I don’t know what Arsene was thinking but he clearly is willing to use Elneny and Mustafi so he must have had some reason that he tried to move them. I think the most reasonable explanation is he felt the need to lower the wage bill. If the reports we heard are true he wanted to keep Ox but Ox gave him no choice and he had to sell. Hopefully Arsene will have learned a lesson and he will make better decisions with the way he builds the wage structure during the next 5-6 years or however long he is in charge.

  11. HenryB,

    Darius was my previous Nam de plume. I Odumbe Kute is my real name and the current pen name I use for my creative writing. I know it’s a bit confusing, but for the creative work I do, it’s hard to brand myself as Darius. Any will do my friend.

  12. Afternoon,

    A fine read on a Friday.

    I’m assuming the reason Ozil’s contract discussions are ticking along, but aren’t close is because he is waiting for January so he can see what deals he could get in the summer. My understanding is that foreign clubs can begin discussions with the player from the January window (but that Manchester United cannot?) which will mean that Ozil will get a feel for how much teams are willing to pay him without a transfer fee to worry about. It will be interesting to see what teams are willing to offer him and whether it stacks up against the deal Arsenal have allegedly already put on the table. Maybe I’m wrong, but Ozil strikes me as a player who is aiming for a nice big deal, so there won’t be much appeal in moving in January and seeing part of his potential wages going on a transfer fee.

  13. Isaac,

    You raised the issue of Debuchy in your Post, and his rather strange disappearing act, as regards the Arsenal 1st team.

    I actually thought he was a good buy for us, at the time of his Newcastle transfer, with plenty of skill, and pace.
    His injury, of course, was a bummer for him, and latterly an underwhelming loan spell at Bordeaux did not help either, but even tho he is now 32 y.o. I am surprised he has just not been able to get onto the bench nowadays, after his supposed transfer fell through.

    I have admitted that I a was, and still am, bewildered by the contract tussles with the OX, Alexis and Mesut — and it is too easy to forget the likes of Debuchy – thanks for reminding me – but there does appear to be a clear lack of vision in how the careers of these 4 players has been handled.

    (The management of Lucas Perez, Ospina, Jenks and others has not been too clever either.)

  14. I don’t suppose too many fans can be bothered with PGMO mob, from what I have read on blogs over the years.

    However, I have been taking part on an interactive video compilation used by those fine ladies and gentlemen, and out of 15 tests I only got 13 correct.
    To be candid, I found it hard, even in the comfort of a quiet room with little to distract me, but the tests are run in ‘real time’ and each ‘Lino’ decision has to be made in an ungenerous 5 seconds or less, and it is essential to know the rules — you all know them, they are defined by Law 11 – well some of you do. 🙂

    It seems to me a lot of the ex-players who sound off on TV so much would do well to learn the Offside Rule first, and second to have a go at the video training tests. That might give the Linos and the Refs a bit more respect for making the decisions, not in the silence of a computer room, but in front of a passionate crowd, with all the pushing, shoving, diving, wrestling that goes on during a game.

    If anyone is interested, the PGMO videos, at different levels of expertise, are being run by The Times
    and good luck if you can beat my scores.

  15. And trump is going to get us all blown to kingdom come – if not by North Korea then by Iran.

    Cannot believe that man!!

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