Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sunday round-up: Partey, Auba, Laca

Morning. A quick Sunday round-up for you.

Not a lot going on from an Arsenal perspective, a nice win tends to keep things relatively calm and quiet. There’s no need for a lot of introspection or analysis. I did think we might hear something from Thomas Partey after his first goal for the club, but how much can he really say about a header that was more of a shoulderer which crept in beyond the flailing arm of Emi Martinez? Maybe if it had been a rocket of a shot into the top corner he might have had something to say about it.

It did occur to me that since his arrival he’s been pretty quiet when it comes to media stuff, post-match interviews and all that. It could be a case he just doesn’t like doing it, or it might have something to do with his relative inconsistency since signing from Atletico Madrid. This isn’t to be critical, but we know he’s had injury problems, he’s been in and out of the team, and I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest we haven’t seen the best of him yet. Maybe he’s saving his media appearances for when he’s the main man in a game, which hasn’t really happened yet – bar that win at Old Trafford last season when I thought he was superb. Anyway, it’s a small thing, a curiosity more than anything else.

You can understand why Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Kelly Cates wanted to speak to Emile Smith Rowe after his display against Aston Villa. I guess it was timely that he did some pre-game stuff with Carragher when they talked about scoring more goals, and he scored a goal. Is the solution to our problems getting the former Liverpool man to have that conversation with all our players?

One man who is scoring is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

People had concerns pre-season after the difficult campaign he had last time around, but he’s showing there’s life in the old dog yet. Even when Alexandre Lacazette came into the team on Friday night, Arteta didn’t shift the captain out wide left, which was good to see and I think it paid off. Not least because that’s where Smith Rowe was operating, and we saw the two combine to bring about the third goal.

I know Aubameyang isn’t the classic back-to-goal striker, who acts as a focal point, laying off passes left and right for runners, but I always thought this idea that he was incapable of linking play and bringing others into the game was nonsense. It’s not his strength, and he can be a bit hit and miss, but he can still do it. Many point to Lacazette as being superior in that regard, and I thought he had an excellent first half in particular against Villa in which he had a really positive impact on our performance. However, he made just 6/14 attacking third passes, and 2/5 in the penalty area (Aubameyang was 4/6 and 2/3 – but he had less of the ball given where he played).

I’ve seen talk of a new deal for Lacazette, and I just can’t get behind that idea. I liked what he did against Villa, but again he couldn’t last beyond 60/70 minutes, a recurring theme throughout his Arsenal career. I think he could well be a very useful player for the remainder of this season, but if we’re looking to improve and make progress, surely the next step is to find someone who can do the positive things Lacazette can do, but with fewer miles on the clock and with a better engine – one that can do 90 minutes week after week?

In the meantime though, his connection with Aubameyang can be really positive. He changed the dynamic against Palace, played very well against Villa, and for a guy who is heading into the final months of his contract – a situation which can often be awkward for club and player – he looks fully committed. If he’s not necessarily playing for a new deal here, he’s putting himself in the shop window for a summer move. It might also be a little reminder for Martin Odegaard, who hasn’t been at his best of late, that he can’t take his place for granted, so let’s make the most of this for the rest of the season, then be smart and sensible with our decision making.

Right, that’s it for now. I’m quite looking forward to Man Utd v Liverpool today, which probably means it’ll be a damp squib but let’s see.

Just a reminder that James and I will be recording the Arsecast Extra for you later this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

Podcast should be out at lunchtime or thereabouts, so until then, take it easy .

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