In years gone by, tomorrow’s tagline was “the title decider”. Now, it’s “who’s left mired in mid-table?”
Then again, in years gone by, tomorrow never exists; Arsenal’s trip to Manchester United put the ‘Super’ into Sunday. Mind you, that popped into my head voiced by David Harris-Jones.
Anyway, hard times means Monday Night Football which is as much of a blight on the fixture list as its’ Thursday Night equivalent.
Some hint of where Monday’s team selection is headed came from Hector Bellerin’s appearance for the Under-23s in the 2 – 2 draw with Liverpool. A start against Standard Liege on Thursday should see the Spaniard ready for a Premier League return.
Kieran Tierney is ahead of him. Like Rob Holding, he no longer features in injury updates and both started against Forest. Is that enough for the Premier League? I think so.
Is it enough for Old Trafford, for a match we must win? It has to be, even if we’d prefer them to be facing Bournemouth and then United away. Life doesn’t work out that conveniently.
However, will Emery put both in? My guess is that he won’t; it’s too much disruption to the defence in too big a match. Tierney is the likeliest, in my view, to start. Emery (sort of) reinforced that:
After eight or nine months out, it’s a long time, and to recover he needs first to take it bit by bit, to take confidence, to get back to the performance levels we demand.Emery on Holding
Emery isn’t too demanding as the Keystone Kops continued selection proves.
But in christening Sideshow Bob and Sokratis, the biggest problem facing Unai Emery surfaces. Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s a b-movie we’d rather not see again but are transfixed when they appear.
Creatures from the Red & White Lagoon
However, the importance of Holding to the squad and to fans is keenly understood by Emery.
On Tuesday, I thought, ‘Wow! He’s coming, Rob Holding’. I don’t know if he is going to start at Old Trafford, but I want from him his spirit, his behaviour and commitment.
He really feels Arsenal Football Club and I want players like him in the dressing room. Last year, Rob started training and playing with us and he progressed a lot.Not considered captain-material though…
It’s not hard to see why Holding resonates with fans. In the tales of heroism from the club’s past, the towering central defender – the colossus – is always a central figure. It’s not harsh to say that since the Invincibles, we haven’t had that presence.
Quite a few made promising starts but all flattered to deceive. And for a club built on solid defensive foundations, that isn’t good enough.
Whether Holding can make the difference is another matter. Can one man do that, cancel out the innate stupidity of his colleagues? I don’t know.
It shows how much he and Calum Chambers developed during their year out of the first-team that there is a strong case for claiming the pair are the best centre-backs at the club.
Amazing what injury and a year on loan playing in the defensive midfield role can do for you, eh?
There is no stretch in claiming Monday might be the last appearance in the Premier League for the Kops, as well as both Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac. That is a ‘wow’ factor but not in the right sense; it’s pretty mind-blowing.
Injuries and suspensions will change that as the season progresses, I’m sure. What is important is that they force Emery into making decisions for the right reasons and not because of mistakes.