Morning all. A quick Saturday round-up for you as Premier League football begins again but for everyone else and not for us because we’re not playing until Monday. In fact, we have three Monday night fixtures in April, which is a load of donkeybollocks if you ask me. I know each team has to get a certain number of these each season but is there some reason why ours have been given a bus schedule (you know, you wait for ages then three come at once)?
Anyway, we got a bit of an update yesterday regarding our injured players and it appears to be mostly good news. There were doubts over Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Nacho Monreal, but it seems all three will be fit and ready for Monday, with Unai Emery saying:
We trained this morning and some players rested for giving them one day more to train with us tomorrow. Aaron Ramsey, Dinos Mavropanos. They can be ready for Monday. Xhaka also rested today, we’re going to wait tomorrow and Sunday but the first previews from the doctor is that he can progress to be ready for Monday.
It is that time of the season where you do have to tread carefully. If you risk a player and he makes an injury worse you could be without him for the rest of the campaign, so I suspect they’ll be quite risk averse – particularly with someone who is a first team fixture like Xhaka. All the same, with Lucas Torreira suspended, having midfield options is important, so fingers crossed.
Emery was also asked about Denis Suarez, and his comments sparked a clutch of ‘Suarez ready for first team start’ headlines, which is fine, because that’s kinda what he said:
I think he is okay for starting in the first 11 or for giving us this impact after.
As ever though, there was some Emery word salad which was a bit less committal:
Now our focus is collectively very strongly focused on helping in 90 minutes, or 50 minutes, or one minute. We are going to need every player for the next matches. We have a lot of players ready and with a big mentality and a big performance for playing and helping us.
For me, like that, we can be stronger, more competitive for taking big performances. With Denis, or with another.
Given he’s played just over 90 minutes of the 900 minutes of football Arsenal have had since he arrived, it’s not an unreasonable question to ask why we signed him. Does he get into the team ahead of any of the players who have been featuring regularly? No. We haven’t seen any evidence yet that he brings anything to the table that they don’t.
Maybe a more interesting question is ‘When did we sign him for?’. Surely we knew that it was going to take time for a player who had barely featured all season for Barcelona to get back to anything like the required match fitness – particularly when you consider the increased intensity and physicality of the Premier League. I don’t think there was any need for him to adapt to life in England or to understand English football. He spent two seasons at Man City, and even if he was very young back then this is not an alien experience for him.
We couldn’t possibly have signed him expecting him to make an instant impact. Sure, it came at a time when we could have done with somebody, Mkhitaryan was out injured, Ozil on the fringes, and we had to play our two strikers all the time, but it never felt like the kind of signing that was made for the here and now (now being back then of course). Maybe there are longer term plans for him, and we see him as someone who can add to the squad next season, although I think he’s done nothing thus far to suggest he’d be good value for the €20m+ that Barcelona want for him.
Perhaps though, he was a signing for now (the actual now) – for this point of the season when it got hectic in the Premier League and we had Europa League football to contend with. Thursday > Sunday > Thursday (and in our case some of those Sundays are Mondays) really tests the limits of a squad, and having as many hands on deck is crucial. Is he a kind of safety net for that? With eight games in April, he’s bound to get some playing time as Emery rotates his squad, and a pair of fresh legs could be very useful.
I hope he can make some contribution to what we need to do. Even a single goal could have a significant impact on how our season ends up, so fingers crossed he can do that. All the same, as we look to build a squad for next season, we’ve seen nothing yet that would make you think he’s the right kind of player for us. He fell out of favour at Barcelona, he feels much more of a mid-table Premier League player to me, someone who might look nice in flashes for Bournemouth or something, but if he can produce one or two of those flashes for us between now and May, they’d be very welcome.
Quick heads up:
If you’d like to watch Arsenal vs Newcastle on Monday evening and don’t have a Sky Sports subscription, you can get 25% off a NOW TV Sky Sports Day Pass using the code ARSEBLOG or click on this link http://tidd.ly/383b4dd7
Right. I’ll leave you with yesterday’s Arsecast, get your ears around that, and there’ll be more from me here tomorrow.