This Interlull is officially over, and there were a few Arsenal lads in action yesterday.
Bukayo Saka: Came on in the second half of England’s 1-1 draw with Hungary at Wembley.
Takehiro Tomiyasu: Played 90 minutes at centre-half for Japan as they beat Australia 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier.
Kieran Tierney: Played 90 minutes in Scotland’s 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands. Hopefully he can get going on his return, he hasn’t really found his best form yet this season, and it’s quite interesting that we’ve been decent in the last four game without him playing as well as he can. It’s often been a case that when the team performs, so does Tierney, so if he can kick on in the next few weeks, hopefully it’s a positive thing.
Thomas Partey: He scored again! Last week he cracked in a belter against Zimbabwe, and he did it again yesterday – watch here. A free kick from distance too, perhaps you can ask questions of the goalkeeper, but when you compare it to the free kick he took against Brighton when he went full David Luiz (and you NEVER go full David Luiz), it was very decent hit.
So that’s two goals in two games, both against Zimbabwe. These things are like buses, no? They come in threes. Don’t Opta have an xGbus stat? Anyway, all we need to do on Monday night is convince him we’re playing against Zimstal Palace, and he’s gonna be banging them in from all over the pitch.
Fingers crossed, but there haven’t been any reports of injuries or problems for any of the players. However, until they come back and get assessed properly, we can’t say for sure. Mikel Arteta is holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon, so we should get some kind of update then. The fact we don’t play again until Monday is a nice little bonus for the Palace game, but the fact we play again on Friday night might be a slight issue – but I suppose it’s not much different from playing on a Saturday and then again on a Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Hector Bellerin has been talking about his move to Real Betis, and I’ve seen a lot of reporting around the idea that he has made it clear he doesn’t want to come back to Arsenal. He was asked if he saw himself at Betis next season and said:
I don’t know, but I’ve always said if I didn’t want to be here next season, I wouldn’t have come from the beginning. There are many things to be decided but what I want to do is enjoy this season that I am here. And what has to happen will happen.
Which sounds like exactly the kind of answer you give to a question like that in October, barely weeks after your loan spell has begun. There’s essentially a whole season to play and players say the things they know will resonate with fans and the club in general. Whether he stays there or not will depend almost entirely on how well he does. So far, he’s started four games in La Liga, got one assist, and helped them to 7 points from those fixtures (Betis sit 10th).
I thought his other comments were more interesting though, when talking about money, and how he had other priorities when making his decision in the summer:
It is clear that money is something important, because it is our job. But I think in football that love of sport, of the club, is being lost. This past year and a half has made us rethink many things.
For me and for everyone it was an effort to carry out the operation, not only from the point of view of money. Also how much it cost us to get here. In the end, those efforts pay off and I had other priorities when making my decision.
His overall point about money is hard to argue with, because that relentless pursuit of cold, hard cash is how we’ve ended up with the Newcastle takeover. Nevertheless, I’m curious about how his particular deal went down. You often hear about players going on loan to clubs who can’t pay their full wage, so they pay a percentage, and the contractual obligations from the parent club make up the shortfall.
The reporting around Hector is that he took a substantial pay cut to ensure this deal went through, so I wonder what the nuts and bolts of that were. Maybe there was pressure from Arsenal to get money off the wage bill, but it’s an interesting one all the same. I don’t know for sure that this is the case, but I read stories when we signed Martin Odegaard on loan last January that we actually topped up his Real Madrid wage – perhaps as a kind of incentive to make it happen, but this scenario appears to quite different. Anyway, best of luck to him there. I’m a bit sad he never quite fulfilled that early potential, but I always thought he represented himself and the club well over ‘real life’ issues, and I’ve got a lot of time for that.
Finally, some good reading on the Newcastle takeover, if you can stomach any more of that, and I can’t let today go without pointing you in the direction of David Squires’ latest for the Guardian. Powerful stuff.
Ok, that’s it for now. More here tomorrow, and any breaking news on Arseblog News throughout the day.