Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Interlull: Giroud making progress, scouting under the microscope

Morning all, and there’s a few bits and pieces going on thankfully. Nothing ground-breaking or anything, but something is better than nothing.

Sticking with internationals for starters, thanks to Adam who pointed out that Chile play a friendly against Bolivia on Wednesday which kicks off at midnight over here. That’s got to put Alexis in some doubt as a starter for Saturday’s game against Hull. Even if he hopped on a plane straight afterwards, he wouldn’t be in any real shape to do anything but rest on Thursday, maybe some light training on Friday, and it would be a big risk to start him in a 3pm Saturday kick-off.

So, on top of all the injuries, the manager is going to have to take that into account when he picks his team. Perhaps the fact that Tomas Rosicky didn’t play for the Czech Republic as they beat Kazakhstan 4-2 last night, and considering the opposition, might see him get some of the minutes he’s complained about not getting this season so far. There’s also Lukas Podolski who’d fancy a game too.

Yesterday we saw pictures of Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry back in training but it’s hard to imagine either of them starting having been out for so long. I suspect the manager will ease them back into action and maybe we might see one of them on the bench on Saturday, but that’s about as much as we’ll get.

Still, Walcott returning at a time when we’re without Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil is timely, to say the least. It gives the manager another option in that front three and for now we can even avoid the discussion about what he’s going to do when everyone’s fit because the idea of everyone being fit is like actually finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

There’s also some positive news about Olivier Giroud, with Arsene Wenger saying:

Olivier Giroud is recovering very well. I believe he is ahead of schedule in terms of rehabilitation. The operation went perfectly.

He then touched on what might be the order of things when he is fit again, considering we’ve got Danny Welbeck now, and on that he said:

Welbeck and Giroud can play together in the centre or separately. Welbeck also played on one side to Manchester United. Welbeck played in the same team with Rooney and van Persie. He can play down the sides.

The issue there, of course, is that part of the reason Welbeck wanted to leave his boyhood club (the club he supports) is because he was shunted out wide to accommodate van Persie and Rooney. And with all due respect to the HFB, it’s one thing being asked to do a job for established world class talent but a different thing altogether when you’re doing it for Olivier Giroud (a player I like, btw, before anyone gets the hump).

I suspect Wenger is hypothesising more than anything else because the idea of Welbeck out wide when he’s illustrated what he can bring down the centre is something of a retrograde step. There may well be times when he want to play the two of them in the same team, but how about doing something revolutionary like actually playing two strikers as strikers and see how that goes? It seems to be something of an archaic notion these days, but I’d like to see it I have to say.

When you look at the players we’ve got, you could draw up some interesting combos. Giroud + Welbeck. Welbeck + Alexis. Giroud + Walcott. Walcott + Welbeck. And so on. That’d certainly give defences something to think about provided the concept and system wasn’t too difficult for us to get used to (having been bewildered thus far this season by a minor positional shift). Something to think about anyway.

Meanwhile, there’s some pre-AGM fluff from Ivan Gazidis which doesn’t really tell us much we didn’t already know, but does touch on some of the behind the scenes stuff. He says:

Hale End is our facility for nine-year-olds through to 16-year-olds on the North Circular. That place is getting totally transformed at the moment. Anyone who goes there will see what we’re doing there. We’re investing many million pounds into developing London Colney, our main training centre – our athletic development, our analytics, our scouting, all these things are part of making a modern football club.

Which is great, and long overdue in some cases, but also something of an admission that things as they stand haven’t quite been up to scratch in certain areas. Scouting, for example. On yesterday’s Arsecast Extra we spoke about the appointment of Brian McDermott – who has signed a contract until May – as an interesting development. The joke that his remit is ‘FIND A CENTRE-HALF’ might not be too far removed from the truth, and I wonder if there’s an acceptance that our inability to find the defensive cover we really needed this summer had to be addressed.

I’m sure we had targets but whether they were the wrong ones or whether it was something else that saw us go into a season with only 6 first team defenders surely was an indication that something wasn’t working as it should. I don’t believe for a second that this was the manager’s plan, even if he will never, ever admit to that in public, so the fact McDermott, whose last two jobs have been as a manager, has been brought on board tells me that they know they need more help in that area.

It might well be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, and we’ve got to hope that we can get through until January without losing one of the main men, but it’s also better late than never. Like the Shadification of the fitness department (and he’s very much the man in charge there with the previous incumbent now doing what he’s told and no more), it might take time for the benefits to seen but at least we’re doing something about it.

Right, fingers crossed for no Interlull injuries this evening, more from me tomorrow.

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