Morning all. Hope you’re all doing well out there. A few Wednesday bits for today’s blog.
Ghana are out of AFCON at the end of the group stage. They lost 3-2 to Comoros last night, and ended up bottom of their group. As such, the tournament is over for Partey and it is feasible he could be back for the weekend. If this was simply an Interlull, playing a game on a Tuesday would be no impediment to being available for your club the following weekend, but this isn’t quite the same thing. This is Ghana going out unexpectedly early, and I just wonder if there might be some internal post-exit stuff to go through.
Another consideration is that elimination from a tournament or disappointment on the international stage can often have an impact on a player. After Russia failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Andrei Arshavin was a bit of a mess. Arsene Wenger said at the time, “Andrey is very down. He came back from international duty very low and that’s the main reason I did not play him from the start against Sunderland.”
Was that the start of his descent into Mr Kipling addiction? It’s hard to know, but it certainly didn’t do him any favours. So, while Thomas Partey might come back determined, willing and ready to put his AFCON woes behind him, it’s also possible he might be in a bit of a funk too. I obviously hope it’s the former, but we shouldn’t forget there is a human element to consider.
“OMG Arsenal have loaned out another player just days after they got a game called off?! What a disgrace!”
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international had his Arsenal contract – which had less than 6 months to go – terminated, and he signed a deal with Marseille until 2023. Seems like a good deal for him. He came for free, he left for free, except in this case free probably meant getting his wages paid up and a gold-plated carriage clock from Edu with an inscription saying ‘I pay, you leave’.
I think it’s been clear for some time now that he is not somebody who features heavily in the manager’s plans. So much so that last season, rather than simply keep him to provide back-up for Kieran Tierney just in case we needed a second left back for any reason, any reason at all, we let him go to his former club Schalke on loan. Turns out we did need a back-up left back and while I want to never think of Granit Xhaka in that position ever again, the fact we’d rather have done than keep Kolasinac tells you plenty about his place in Arteta’s pecking order.
He started just one Premier League game this season, the 5-0 defeat away to Man City where he was part of a back three. It didn’t go well. Since then he’s had a couple of cup appearances and a solitary minute as a substitute in the league, so his departure should come as no surprise. We have Tierney, we have Nuno Tavares as back-up, another left-back/left wing-back isn’t necessary.
You’d like to think that he will be the last of the ‘pay them to go away’ crew, although I have some fear that a similar accommodation might be required for the Aubameyang situation if we can’t find a way to make that work again. I wonder too if there’s something in the relationship between Arsenal and Marseille that played a part. We know Matteo Guendouzi will join them permanently in the summer (his loan deal had an obligation which should circumvent the transfer ban they’re about to be slapped with), while William Saliba is on loan there too.
Anyway, good luck to Kolasinac. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, and his most memorable moment during his time here turned out not to be a goal, or an assist (he had 15 in an Arsenal shirt), but a save. One that Mesut Ozil should always be thankful for.
Mikel Arteta’s press conference
The manager meets the press today ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool. No doubt there will be questions about the postponement of the North London derby and I’m very interested to see what kind of reaction Arteta has to some of the more vociferous reaction to it from journalists/outlets who should know better. My guess is that he will try and play everything with a straight bat, like he usually does, trying not provide any more fuel to a fire which is still smouldering away in certain corners of the media.
However, it might also be an opportunity to connect with the overwhelming feeling within the Arsenal fanbase that we’ve been unfairly criticised for simply playing within the rules. We’ve played games without players who have been absent with Covid; we had to prepare and play a game against the incumbent Champions without Arteta himself because of Covid; and while other postponements are merely reported as part of the news cycle, Arsenal’s became something of a scandal. He talks often about the connection between the club, the team and the fans, and this could be something he could use to foster and develop something of a siege mentality which could be really useful.
I’m sure there will be questions about fitness, any developments in terms of transfers and more, and we’ll have all the stories and coverage over on Arseblog News as and when it happens.
We’ll have a Liverpool preview podcast over on Patreon later on, but for now, take it easy.