beIN Sports get their money’s worth when Arsène is on commentating duties. This time he’s ‘clarifying’ the end of season discussion he and the board will have. Not contract talks but about the future; there’s a subtle difference between the two and Ivan’s got a metric to measure it.
Have they learned anything from last season or are we to see more disruption while the manager dilly-dally’s over his future? It’s a test for Ivan and the board as much as Arsène. Any director who is incapable of resolving the issue this summer, isn’t acting in the best interests of the club.
Not that they care about the football side of things; that’s an inconvenience to the business of making Stan more money. Anyway, yesterday’s Fiver email from The Guardian offered hope for Wenger when it comes to his next job. England expects. “Given the lack of success we’ve had over the past several decades,” one contributor said, before adding Wenger was perfect for the job because “the fourth place trophy would be positively spiffing”.
Anyway, it’s all frippery at the moment. Arsène spoke to the press this morning which means the North London Derby is almost upon us. Two days away by the time this reaches you, I should think. If not sooner the way this morning is going.
Team news was the order of the day with Laurent Koscielny’s absence from France’s 2 – 2 draw with Germany deemed “necessary” by Arsène. An indication of how bad the French international’s condition is became clear when Wenger elaborated,
“It was needed for him. We couldn’t use him for a number of games, he just came back against City because he had an Achilles tendon injury. If he had played in midweek, he certainly would not have been available for Saturday.”
Three Days in the Desert Fun
It’s one of those situations where you wonder why Koscielny wasn’t sent home by the French. OK, they were facing Brazil and Germany; so what? Both were friendlies and ultimately meaningless. Given the centre-back’s recent injury woes, a fortnight’s rest was surely the best answer?
Seemingly not. Anyway, he’s the most obvious worry as the weary troops trudge back to London Colney. Fitness tests aren’t just confined to them; the likes of Mustafi and Welbeck are also being assessed but not until tomorrow. Both will be on the bench if they pass muster, I should think.
Giroud, as I mentioned earlier in the week, is not a concern for Saturday. Thursday’s trip to Cologne is more important for his season and Arsène called his injury “short-term”, expecting his compatriot to be back in training on Monday.
At the bottom of that page, there’s a poll on “Who should start up front in the north London derby?” If it’s anyone other than Alexandre Lacazette, I hope Arsène’s tailor can rustle up a white bondage coat with some extra long sleeves. He’ll need it.
Wenger said he has “big decisions to make up front,” but that “it’s a possibility [Lacazette will start] because he’s available.”
I’m old-fashioned because I thought spending £52m on a striker meant he was the real deal, ready and raring to go in the Premier League. Obviously not; he’s missed our two biggest away games since joining and that’s not what we expected, particularly since they both ended in defeat with seven goals.
Not starting the best finisher at the club by a long chalk, is handicapping yourself before kick-off, giving the advantage straight away to your opponents. This is a match Arsenal can’t afford to lose. I also think it’s one Arsène can’t afford to lose.
And a Perfect Disguise Above
A man who made such a big play of the top four finish is likely to find himself four points adrift of fourth in the nightmare scenario. The reaction to a Tottenham defeat is normally bad enough; this time, it is almost unthinkable.
Arsenal already only have the FA Cup and Europa League to play for – I assume the League Cup will go out the window next round – and slipping behind the top four cuts the options of Champions League football next season to one. It’s a risky strategy to follow. United succeeded last season but can Arsenal get the same luck of the Europa League draw?
To leave Lacazette out is nonsensical. To even think about it isn’t far short of that.