Speculation is now an ‘exclusive’ on the back pages if anyone reads them any more. The immediacy of the internet is rendering the printed word less relevant. Those media outlets which bemoan the drop in circulation are killing it themselves, posting the stories they rely on to sell papers online as soon as they break.
An example of the ‘exclusive’ is Rob Holding’s ill-timed injury, as if there is such a thing as a well-time injury. Certainly not one as serious as that which the future England centre-back is suffering. He’s been the glue which held together the defensive line Unai Emery put together. Now the Spaniard is left with a dilemma to resolve.
We all assume Holding is out for the season. ‘Speculation’ has it that the club fear the worst and his 2018-19 campaign is over. It leaves us with Sokratis, Mustafi, Koscielny and Mavropanos as the senior central defenders. We can dip into the academy sides if necessary which is something Unai Emery is tasked with doing.
Sven Mislintat observed that buying Mateo Guendouzi was pivotal for the club:
It was an important transfer for
us,because we wanted to show the world – we’re still the old Arsenal, which gives opportunities to younger players.
Although bringing youngsters through is a target, doing so in the Premier League is a risky business. Injuries or suspensions could see us field callow youths in a big match. For a short-term fix, it’s a good solution. With six months of the season remaining? I’m far from convinced it’s an astute decision.
Nor do I think it is one Arsenal will take. There are too many doubts about the remaining central defenders at the club. Injury, consistency and age all play into the mix in discussions around the solution.
Fit To Drop
Emery’s favoured three-man defence is the key. We look better as a team when we play this way and it covers off ‘injuries’ elsewhere in the XI. In the short-term, Nacho Monreal’s return to training is timely although Stephan Lichtsteiner can cover as well.
It’s not an ideal situation
You can be critical of Emery for playing all his fit central defenders at the same time. However, that logic transfers to the strikers, surely? Should we ever see Aubameyang and Lacazette on the pitch at the same time?
Which brings us to where we are with the defenders. Laurent Koscielny’s return seems timely but the images of him leaving the pitch early against Portsmouth is a haunting reminder of his situation. He was carrying his Achilles condition for some time before this absence.
The bigger question is the propensity of players to ‘breakdown’ in the past. We have changed some things but at 33, Koscielny is no spring chicken in footballing terms. Is relying on his fitness too much of a risk?
Similar concerns exist regarding Dino Mavropanos. His absence is counted in months as well. Returning to training this month is timely but he’s playing catch-up to a large extent with the tactics and also a new goalkeeper. Those are as much of a concern as fitness.
The reality is that we’re in ‘make do and mend’ territory. We need to invest in January if Holding is out for anything more than a month, which we all expect and other transfer plans will have to go on hold. Unless, of course, Enos is dipping into his pockets which no-one expects.
It’s A Gas, Gas, Gas…
Last night, a reprehensible publication carried a tale of excess with the comments at once prurient and puritanical. Arsenal has reminded the players involved of “their responsibilities” and killed off the story.
The Murdoch Empire hoped to destabilise and upset but failed miserably. It was dealt with behind closed doors, not that anyone gave a rats arse what went on in the summer.
orry that the lads aren’t being tarred and feathered before being hauled to Tyburn. Get over yourselves, you sanctimonious, hypocritical oafs.