Monday, November 28, 2022

Final celebration thoughts : Will Arsenal get the left-footed winger?

Good morning! Hope you’re all well.

I know that much has been said about the tedious celebration police over the last couple of days, but without wanting to go deep on the issue again – because I said plenty on Sunday’s blog – a couple of quick points.

First, and James said this on the Arsecast Extra, if we’re cheesed off as Arsenal fans because of how stupid and out of touch all this is, what do Fulham fans think when that bloated gimp in Qatar keeps saying ‘It was just … Fulham’?

Sure, Fulham aren’t title contenders, but they held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw and gave them a very difficult game. Fulham also beat the Brentford side that smashed Man Utd 4-0 the week previously. The disrespect to a team that has, to this point at least, shown that not all newly promoted sides are cannon fodder, is off the charts.

Secondly, and lastly I promise, I think there’s something to consider about the way the team celebrated. Of course any game where you come from behind to win is going to be a happy moment, and when the connection with the fans is as real as it is right now, those two things are going to feed off each other. There’s a kind of symbiotic energy that exists, and when it’s positive it’s natural to embrace that.

However, I also think it says something about the players and the team. They look hugely motivated so far this season. There was a lot pain in that dressing room about the way the season ended, and now they are hungry for every single point in every single game. This wasn’t as much about beating Fulham as it was about them achieving what they set out to do beforehand – which was to take all three points. When it came about in somewhat dramatic, late circumstances, that played into the way they reacted.

Just look at the way they celebrated the goal. Saliba, Zinchenko, Xhaka booting the flag. There are going to be ups and downs this season, like there are in every season, but right now you look at this team and you know they care, you know they are not some bunch going through the motions, and if this is what we get as a consequence of that, then I’m all for it.

And that’s that.

This is going to be a busy week on and off the pitch. Tomorrow night we have Aston Villa, and on Thursday night at 11pm the transfer window closes. We know Mikel Arteta has made it pretty clear that he wants to add to the squad. In a Sky Sports interview on Saturday, before the win over Just Fulham, he said of the transfer window:

So far, very happy, but we should always try to get better, and that’s what we’re going to try and do in the last week of the window.

It’s clear that now we are becoming a little bit short in the squad because we have so many outs. We need to get that balance right.

Last week there was a lot of talk about Pedro Neto, but the latest reporting suggests it’s a deal that is unlikely to happen. Wolves are reluctant sellers so the price will be extremely high, and it now remains to be seen if Arsenal will go down their list and turn their attention to someone else.

We saw this happen when Lisandro Martinez chose Man Utd; almost straight away we pulled the trigger on Oleksandr Zinchenko. Whether we have that same kind of candidate waiting in the wings for this addition, I don’t know. There are whispers about Shaktar Donetesk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk, a lightning fast 21 year old who looks very exciting, but how firm that interest is I don’t know.

A common thread between all our winger targets is that they’re all left footed. Raphinha, Neto, and now Mudryk. I guess because they are seen as cover/depth/competition – however you want to say it – for Bukayo Saka on the right hand side. And I do think there’s a bit more to this potential signing than simply adding to the squad. As a club we have to ensure we do the best by Saka, which means being able to take him out of the firing line a bit because he is someone we rely heavily on.

I’m not overly concerned about his form this season, it’s just four games and I think he’s been more involved in good stuff than people think, but you can understand why some might express some concerns about possible fatigue/burn-out. So whatever we do between now and Thursday will hopefully bring some additional quality and ‘firepower’, but also ensure that one of our best players isn’t overused and stays physically fresh between now and May.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. We will have a preview podcast for you over Patreon later this afternoon, and if you’re looking for something in the meantime there’s a new Arsecast Extra below and a new episode of The 30 (our Premier League review podcast) on Patreon.

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