Friday, August 19, 2022

Coin throwing, injuries and Gnabry’s surge

Morning all. Everyone back in work properly now? Good. We can get on with things again. No more 11am beers and biscuit sandwiches. Unless that’s how you roll anyway, in which case you keep on keeping on there.

We delve into a world of football which, this weekend, has shown once again how its priorities are completely skewed. Why on earth is the narrative about punishing a player who was a bit cheeky rather the fans who pelted him, and medical staff, with coins and anything else they could get their paws on?

As Ian Stone remarked yesterday, “If you’re incited by being told the score of a game you’re already watching, you need professional help.”

And @WestStandTone reminds us that an Arsenal fan received a three year banning order from football, was fined £250 and had to pay costs of £110 for lobbing a banana at Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane last season. A banana. I’d rather get one of them in the side of the head than a coin, let me tell you.

Yet all they can talk about is whether or not Theo Walcott incited their behaviour. It’s absolute nonsense, and the police and authorities should be looking at TV footage, CCTV stuff too, and dealing properly with the mindless thuggery that some of the Sp*rs fans were involved in. And that goes for any fan of any club, if your reaction to some mild teasing is to throw coins, then the stadium/world would be a better place without you in it.

Speaking of Theo, there are fears that he could miss up to a month with his knee injury. There’s talk of ligament damage but I guess we won’t know for sure until there’s official confirmation from the club. It would be something of a blow, however, as he was in good form, scoring well and showed on Saturday that against certain teams who play certain systems he’s more effective up front than we thought.

However, with Bendtner out for a month too it certainly lessens our options up there and the pressure for the manager to address that in the transfer market will be quite intense, I’m sure. Assuming they’re both gone for a month and no more, they’d miss Villa (A), Fulham (H), Coventry (H – FA Cup), Southampton (A) and Crystal Palace (H).

The game at Anfield on February 8th is probably the one earmarked for a return and it’s not unreasonable to hope that the current crop can cope with those games until we get the injured ones back. The danger is that further injury or suspension would see us very short indeed, so it’s a bit of a gamble.

One bright spot is the fact that Serge Gnabry has shown himself to be a genuine contender for a place in the team, and his availability to fill that role on the right hand side would soften the blow of a Walcott outage. While the manager was keen to play down any hype over his display against Sp*rs, Mikel Arteta has been full of praise for the young German, saying:

I think he’s got a lot of quality. He’s got something not many players have in this team, which is pace and skill to go and beat people.

He’s like a little boxer, he’s a little fighter. He’s good. He’s got a lot of character as well, the lad doesn’t get intimidated either because it’s a derby. You see it in training. Technically, he is very good but he’s got something about him as well. He doesn’t mind when he gets kicked, he gets up and goes for the next ball.

As I said yesterday, it’s great when you see a young player come in and take their chance so well. Considering the circumstances, the pressure, the importance of not losing to that lot at home, and the fact he’s still very inexperienced, it was a fantastic display from him.

Not that it’s really a surprise, almost every time we’ve seen him this season he’s been effective. Scoring at Swansea, winning a penalty at Palace, and now creating for Cazorla in the North London derby. I suppose what it does first and foremost is allow the manager to place a bit more trust in him, knowing he’s capable of doing it at this level and that he won’t be cowed by any sense of occasion.

There was talk that he might go out on loan this month, and while his path to the team was somewhat blocked you could see the sense of that. He’s at a point where he really needs to play a bit more, but after the way he played against Sp*rs, and the fact there’s something of an opportunity now in the next few weeks, I think we’ll see quite a bit more of him in the games to come.

As an aside, how nice was it to see, late in the Sp*rs game, Tomas Rosicky put an arm around Gnabry’s shoulder and give him a little pep talk? I know I’ve spoken before about how important it is for the experienced players to educate and help the younger ones, but it’s still great to see Rosicky assume those responsibilities. The young talents we have at the club right now may not realise it yet, but being integrated into a team with so much experience will be a huge benefit for them.

Finally for today, as you’ll have spotted the 4th round draw of the FA Cup (the competition that doesn’t have Sp*rs in it), and we’ll face Coventry at home. We played them in the Capital One Cup last season and beat them 6-1, and I think that’s a decent reward for knocking out the coin chuckers. The game will be played on the weekend of the 25th/26th of January, TV has yet to meddle with the schedule so once they’ve called the shots we’ll find out exactly when it’s on.

Right, that’s your lot. Eased back into it. Now look at that backlog of emails you’ve got … and that thing you put off doing before the break … ugh. Till tomorrow.

ps – The RNG did its thing for the Santi Cazorla boots competition and the winner is Robert Smith. Well done to you, I’ll be in touch to get the prize sorted.

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