Morning all, hope you had a nice day yesterday, whatever you got up to.
It’s back to the football grind straight away though, with a visit to Norwich City this afternoon. As it stands the game is going ahead, although a couple of days ago the home side reported ‘fresh’ Covid cases, so it will depend on how many, if there have been more, and if they meet the requirements of the Premier League to have the game postponed. What those requirements are is still unclear.
Some Covid cases + three rounds of charades + a couple of injuries + a rap battle + some Trivial Pursuit = postponement? Who knows? Norwich manager Dean Smith has called the situation and the demands placed on players ‘lunacy’, and admitted he should have lobbied to have their previous game called off, so I expect there’s some behind the stuff scenes ongoing here.
This is the first of two games in less than 48 hours, so it will be interesting to see how Mikel Arteta approaches this one. Does he risk rotating a bit today, perhaps looking to take advantage of a Norwich squad which is a bit depleted – not to mention bottom of the league, hoping his side can take the points then add some fresh legs for the game against Wolves on Tuesday? Remember, Wolves will have had 10 days rest because their scheduled game against Watford today was called off because of Covid.
Or, does he go as strong as he can, making sure to get the points on the board, then just see what kind of team we can put out on Tuesday? It’s a tricky one. Do the former and drop points and you’re accused of complacency or not taking it seriously, but the situation around the Wolves game isn’t something we can just gloss over. Personally, I think we should do as much as possible today to secure a win and the points, and then see who’s feeling ok for Tuesday.
There might be mitigating factors taken into account if we don’t take maximum points from Wolves, but not for today. How much Arteta takes the schedule into consideration for his team selection today remains to be seen, but I suspect it’ll be a strong side and let’s hope they can do the business and get a second away win in succession.
As for this season’s festive schedule, there’s a very strong argument that some games being postponed – even if they might well cause a fixture pile-up later in the season and this prove physically challenging – have damaged the sporting integrity of the league (no laughter down the back please). If it’s mental for everyone, it’s still ridiculous, but at least it’s fair. All we can do is get on with it though, but let’s not pretend it isn’t absurd.
Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta was asked about the January transfer window, and admitted it would be useful for the top four push if we could do some business, saying:
“If you can tweak what you need to in that period, which is not easy, it would be really helpful. We are working on that to see the necessities we can have, and whether we can find the right solutions to that.”
We know that the January window is already more complicated than the summer one, and I wonder if this one might be even more so. With players just as susceptible to Covid as anyone else, and cases on the rise, would selling clubs be more reluctant to do business so they can keep as deep a squad as possible in order to cope with any outbreaks they might have? I guess it’s just another aspect to things which will make finding the right player next month more difficult, but it’s easy to see how a signing would provide a timely boost to a team which has more to play for now than many would have suspected earlier in the season.