quick delayed one for you today.
Let’s start with England’s 10-0 win over San Marino last night. Some people scored, but we don’t care about them at all. We care that Emile Smith Rowe got his first England goal as his star continues to rise. He finished off a move involving Bukayo Saka and swept home after a nice flick from Tammy Abraham – watch it here.
What a season he’s having so far. That makes it 7 goals for club and country (4 Premier League, 1 Carabao Cup, 1 U21 goal, 1 England senior goal). Earlier this year after Smith Rowe had taken the number 10 shirt, Mikel Arteta challenged him to produce more in front of goal, saying he was capable of doing it. He’s certainly responded to that, and fingers crossed he can continue this run of good form into the upcoming Premier League fixtures which are a bit trickier than some of the ones we’ve had in the last couple of months.
It was a good night for Bukayo Saka too, he nodded home England’s 1oth goal (watch here), and played the full 90 minutes. On top of that, Aaron Ramsdale made his England debut, keeping a clean sheet and while it’ll probably be the easiest one he ever keeps, it’s still a nice way to start his international career. All in a all, a good Interlull for our young English lads.
Tonight, the only two players in potential action are Albert Sambi Lokonga as Belgium face Wales (he didn’t play at all in their win over Estonia), and Martin Odegaard as Norway are in the Netherlands. Fingers crossed they come through without any problems.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Eddie Nketiah has told Arsenal he wants to leave, which really don’t come as much surprise at all. He’s never quite made the breakthrough to play regularly here, and this season has yet to get a single minute in the Premier League.
To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise he didn’t go in the summer, although a pre-season injury might well have played a part there. There were some stories that he rejected a move to Crystal Palace, but we’re now heading towards January, at which point he can agree a pre-contract deal with clubs abroad. In June, he can leave on a free and I think he’ll have plenty of options.
Arsenal did offer a new contract, which he rejected, so the question is: when does this departure happen? If there’s a buyer in January, would we be as well taking whatever amount is on offer knowing he can go for nothing in the summer to a club outside of England? If it is an English club, we’d be due some compensation via a tribunal but it’s probably not going to be a huge amount.
January is interesting because Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is going to AFCON, and we’ve already spoken about a loan for Flo Balogun. That leaves Alexandre Lacazette as the only senior striker, with Gabriel Martinelli another option. And it could be quite hectic. If we beat Sunderland in the Carabao Cup next month, January’s fixture list is fairly congested, coming right after the festive period which is busy too:
Jan 1st: Man City (H), Premier League
Jan 5th: Carabao Cup, semi-final 1st leg.
Jan 8th*: FA Cup third round (date not 100% confirmed, but that weekend).
Jan 12th: Carabao Cup, semi-final 2nd leg.
Jan 16th: Sp*rs (A), Premier League.
When you consider we’re more than likely going to be without Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny for all of those games, I suspect whatever outgoing business we do in January won’t happen until after that run of fixtures. There’s also a home game against Burnley on Jan 22nd before a winter break at the end of the month, although I’m sure there are some games in that period too. Probably a friendly tournament on Mars, just to make sure the players are absolutely worn out to the greatest extent possible.
So, while Nketiah might want to leave, Arsenal might want to just keep hold of him until the end of the season, just in case. Whatever happens though, he’s had chances, done ok at times, but at this point hasn’t really done enough to make his departure feel like any kind of blow – especially as we have other young strikers/forwards looking to make their mark.
Right, let’s leave it there for now. If you haven’t had a chance to listen already, the Arsecast Extra from yesterday is below, all the links you need to subscribe/listen are there. Enjoy, back tomorrow.