We have a Mikel Arteta press conference later today where I guess the main questions will be about player fitness and availability after the Interlull. Is Bukayo Saka recovered sufficiently from Covid-19 to play against Palace? How is Emile Smith Rowe after his not too serious injury that kept him out of the England game last weekend but was ok enough for him to make a substitute’s appearance on Tuesday? Was Ben White’s half-time removal tactical or something else?
There were other players involved too, so fingers crossed we have a clean bill of health across the board. Ordinarily, the fact we don’t play again until Monday night would be a cause of some frustration, but in this instance, maybe those extra couple of days will be useful in terms of preparation and getting rid of any residual aches/strains from the Interlull.
Meanwhile, it looks as if Alexandre Lacazette found his shooting boots again as he scored three times in a training ground friendly with Brentford B. What can we take from this? Not very much (apart from Andrew’s solid headline work over on Arseblog News). I mean, it won’t do him any harm, and the minutes for some players might well be useful but beyond that there’s no hot take to be had here. We do seem to have had quite a few of these kind of games this season though, I guess because of the lack of European football leaving us with free midweeks more than we would usually have. Anyway, if Laca can stick a few away in real games in the coming weeks that would be very useful and somewhat overdue.
Elsewhere, there’s talk of the Premier League approving the use of five subs from next season. PFA chief executive Maheta Molango, said,
In the global market if all the other leagues have five subs and we have three that means we will be in a worse position when it comes to the big games. We want need to start thinking more collectively and think that if our teams are thriving in Europe that is a good thing.
That aspect of it is interesting for English clubs. Whether it’s a move you’re for or against for tactical reasons or because you feel like it benefits bigger, richer clubs, if every other league in Europe is doing it, there is a slight disadvantage when it comes to European competitions. Again though, that’s an issue that’s only beneficial for the bigger, richer clubs, the ones who will compete in the Champions League and Europa League.
Personally, and I saw Tim Stillman reference this yesterday on Twitter too, I’d like to see a rule which means that at least one – if not both – of the two extra subs have to be academy/home-grown players specific to that club. For example, Man City couldn’t use Jack Grealish even though he is home-grown because he was a £100m signing from another club.
That way it’s not quite as skewed towards those with the deepest pockets and the biggest squads. I know there’s still some imbalance because of what these clubs can invest into their academies, but in terms of providing opportunities for young players it would be quite interesting to see how managers chose to use those two extra subs. I imagine game state would matter a great deal, trying to weigh up fresh legs versus inexperience, but there ought to be some consideration to this.
Otherwise, the richest clubs will be able to supplement three expensive signings as subs with two more, and that can’t be right. There’s always so much talk of fair play, sporting integrity and maintaining the competitive element of football, but very little of substance is ever done to actually ensure that happens (look at FFP as the perfect example of that). In this instance there’s a very simple, if slightly imperfect, way of implementing a new rule without it completely favouring the teams and the clubs who need it least, as well as providing chances for young players. Will it happen though? I doubt it.
One of the shirt lovers, the new away kits for next season have leaked. There’s a pink one and a black one. At this point, I find it hard to get too worked up about kits and colours and things like that. The black one looks cool, the pink one a bit weird with what look tiny paw prints on it, but you can make your own mind up with pictures etc over here.
Finally for today, don’t forget Arsenal Women are in Champions League action this evening, playing the second leg against Wolfsburg after a 1-1 draw last week. You’ll find details of how to watch in Tim’s match preview here, and there’s loads more pre-game coverage from Germany on Arseblog News. Fingers crossed we can do the business.
Right, that’s it for this morning. Over on Patreon we have a brand new episode of Waffle, the podcast in which James and I answer questions about anything and everything except Arsenal, so go get it if you’re a subscriber.
More from me here tomorrow, including a brand new Arsecast. Until then, take it easy.