Sunday, December 10, 2023

Welbeck, Podolski, flares + Arsecast 325

Morning all, and welcome to another Friday.

We’ve got to put the Champions League well and truly behind us now and concentrate on Sunday’s game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. We’re not going to go into the details of it just yet, we’ve got Saturday and Sunday to deal with a fixture that looms large on the horizon like a large loomy thing.

Back to now though, and Danny Welbeck has been talking about his goalscoring form since joining the club. The hat-trick on Wednesday might be played down by some who will want to see if he can do it in the big games, but I’m very much of the opinion that those goals were the spark his Arsenal career needed. The longer any striker goes without a convincing performance, the more people question him, but for his confidence and the confidence in him the Galatasaray goal glut was just lovely.

And he puts it down to being played in his favourite position and not shunted out wide as he had been at Manchester United:

Nobody can really criticise my finishing because they don’t really see me playing in a forward position too often. But now I am getting into these positions I want to be sticking the ball in the back of the net. I’m sure it’s the same with every other striker.

Obviously people can say I’ve not scored enough goals, but you stick the best strikers on the wing in a four-man midfield and see if they score goals.

I like his attitude, I have to say. There’s a genuine confidence and belief in his own ability and at 23 he’s at exactly the right age to make a big step forward in his career. With the players we have around him up front he’s going to get chances, and although he had a couple of games where his finishing was a bit off, he looks to have found his range now.

Kieran Gibbs has bigged him up also, talking about his work-rate, but also his character, saying:

He knows pretty much half the squad and he’s a great guy so it’s a lot easier when you’re likeable like that.

I like that he seems a really nice guy, unlike other forwards at the club he came from, for example, but also that the niceness extends only to his teammates and not the opposition. He was involved in a little set-to with Vincent Kompany during the Man City game, and he’s prepared to use his size and strength. All in all he looks a more prescient signing by the day – just try and imagine this Arsenal team without him right now, it’s not a pleasant thought.

Another forward isn’t having quite as much though, and Lukas Podolski says he might have to leave if he doesn’t get more minutes. He told RTL television:

I am a full-blooded player, a street player and I love competition. If I don’t have this competition every weekend then a change must occur. We will have to see. But it is certainly something one has to think about.

It’s a difficult situation in that he knew Arsene Wenger was ready to let him go this summer, then the injury to Giroud occurred and he was required to stay in the short-term. Right at the end of the window we signed Welbeck, so he’s now in the same position he was in when Giroud was fit: at best a substitute option for a place on the left hand side because the manager just doesn’t believe he’s a centre-forward.

If there was criticism of his performance against Southampton, it should also be taken into account that was his first start of the season and one game isn’t enough to judge his application or motivation, even if he could have worked harder. Football is funny though, he’s very much on the fringes now, but you just never know when a player might be needed, and for his flaws he’s got end product when given the opportunity. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a January move somewhere, but then who knows what might have happened between now and then.

Elsewhere, Arsenal have been charged by UEFA for ‘insufficient organisation’ because Galatasaray fans brought flares and smoke bombs into the ground on Wednesday night. When we posted the story there were lots of eye-witness accounts from folk on Twitter of how the travelling fans were well, and obviously, searched going into the ground, so it seems odd to me that the club itself should be punished when their fans smuggle in stuff in Papillon style chargers and then try to set our pitch on fire.

They have also been charged with ‘crowd disturbances, and setting-off and throwing of fireworks’ – which seems fair, but realistically, if Arsenal’s organisation was sufficient for every other Champions League game at the Emirates, why should we take any of the blame for the way the Galatasaray fans acted? Either there’s a fundamental issue with the way we search or deal with away fans, or the issue is that this particular set of fans were much more badly behaved than all the others.

Perhaps it was because of the reaction to the flares going off. In the end the Galatasaray keeper and Wesley Sneijder were the ones who kicked them off the pitch, but you could see by the way they were gesturing to the fans that they knew it was their behaviour that was an issue and could result in disciplinary charges against the club. Ah well, UEFA eh?

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast where I’m joined by Tim Stillman an  Tayo Popoola (You might know him from such podcasts as The Tuesday Club) to look back on Galatasaray, forward to Chelsea and a reunion with Cesc Fabregas. As well as that we get some searing insight to football’s greatest moments from Tony Gale, along with all the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly click here – 35mb MP3.

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

We’ll have news throughout the day, and from the press conference, over on Arseblog News. The Gent will be here later, more from me tomorrow. Until then have a good one.

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