Thursday, December 7, 2023

Weekend round-up + Transfer round-up

Morning all. Welcome to a brand new week.

I don’t think there’s much more to say about the whole postponement thing, nothing fresh to add from yesterday’s post really, but it was still quite something to see plenty of people who are actually employed to talk and write about football fail to grasp the fundamental issue that the rules are the problem, not one football club operating within those rules. Arsenal Twitter was ALIVE this weekend, and while I’m not one to condone any kind of pile on, if your uniformed hot-take generated a similar hot reaction then that’s very much on you. Don’t poke a hornet’s nest and then complain you got stung.

I didn’t watch much else yesterday, but Micah Richards had it spot on – every other club would do exactly the same:

It doesn’t mean people have to like it. In fact, more opposition to terrible rules and things which take away from what football is supposed to be about would be welcome. Even if you accept the contention that the North London derby postponement was a straw that broke the camel’s back moment, hammering home how poor these current rules are, the focus should be on the people who put them in place, not one club who – again – did nothing wrong within said guidelines.

Anyway, it is what it is now. There are vast swathes of people out there who think Arsenal cheated, and there’s not much we can do about that. The idea that we get favourable treatment from the authorities is quite hilarious too. Hopefully though, the Premier League can get its thinking cap on (to replace the Dunce one they’ve been wearing for too long now), and make sure that unless there is a significant outbreak of Covid at a club (still a good reason for a postponement), that the games go ahead. I don’t know if new rules can be applied mid-season, I suspect probably not, so it might be something for next season.

Assuming Covid hasn’t just gone away by then, it’s a reality we’re going to have to deal with, so there should be more thought about how we go forward from here. Another consideration is that having had a chunk of players out with Covid in the last month or so, have some of the injury issues we’ve suffered been related to that? Smaller squad to choose from, some of them playing through aches/strains that they might not ordinarily, and thus exacerbating those problems? Maybe that’s something the manager might answer when he meets the press this week ahead of the Liverpool game on Thursday, but he’s often quite guarded about fitness – at least in terms of specifics. Let’s see.

Moving back towards football, and in particular the transfer market, I’m interested to see if anything will happen this week. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything that’s particularly close. Obviously there’s been a lot going on at the club in the last few days, but you’d like to think that those tasked with strengthening the squad this month haven’t been distracted by matters which shouldn’t be their top priority.

On the Arsecast Extra on Friday, James mentioned this Financial Times piece with the owner of Fiorentina, and it’s well worth a read as we wonder whether or not Dusan Vlahovic is a realistic signing this month. He doesn’t sound like a man who is going to take much nonsense from agents, while depending on what you read, there are all kinds of agents and middlemen tied up in the Vlahovic situation. At the very least, it makes this one quite complicated, and I have a suspicion that we’re being led down the garden path a bit by his entourage.

If that is the case, do we have alternatives for January? There’s not a lot out there if you look for a striker on loan, and suggestions we’re after Diego Costa of all people sum that up perfectly. It’s tough enough to get the striker you want in the summer transfer market, trying to convince a club to part with someone who is likely a key player for them mid-season is even more difficult. I guess there is the Lucas Torreira aspect to this, he’s on loan there, and we have a working relationship with Fiorentina, but I don’t think this is a deal that would fall down between the clubs as much as the Vlahovic camp being the sticky part of it all.

As for midfield, we should get some clarity on the Arthur loan deal, but I do like links to Leicester’s Youri Tielemans. He’s a nice player, he has 18 months left on his current deal (and there appears to be some uncertainty about his future), and he’d be a decent addition. Again though, can it be done in January?

Finally, weekend reports that we’re after Middlesbrough’s right-back Djed Spence are quite funny. He’s on loan at Nottingham Forest and was absolutely brilliant for them in the FA Cup game last week, but given he’s played for both Forest and Boro this season means he can’t play for a third club in one season. Maybe one for the summer, but it feels like a classic of the ‘had a good game against Arsenal so we should buy him’ genre.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. Despite no action yesterday, James and I will be recording the Arsecast Extra later on, so 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.

Pod should be out by lunchtime. Until then, take it easy.

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