Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Training pics : All Or Nothing : Sambi

Good morning from a very warm Dublin.

I’ve been checking out the training pics again, and from what I can see, Emile Smith Rowe, Fabio Vieira and Takehiro Tomiyasu are all in full training – which is good news ahead of this weekend’s game against Leicester at the Emirates. It should mean a stronger bench, at the very least, and more options should we need them. More on that in the days ahead though.

Due to the predicted hot weather, there will be drinks breaks during games, something Mikel Arteta used to good effect in that post-lockdown period. Speaking of the manager, and having watched the newest episodes of All Or Nothing, there’s a very serious opportunity for a throat lozenge sponsor right there. We know he’s very vocal from the sidelines but – no spoilers, I promise – there are countless times when his voice is cracked and broken, making him sound like a teenage boy.

If I were the manufacturer of a product that helped with vocal strain or laryngitis brought on from shouting at millionaires from the sideline of a football stadium packed with tens of thousands of people which makes it hard to heard and thus causes you to shout even louder and cause more damage to your vocal cords, I’d be right in there with a delivery to the Arsenal training ground and a crafty Tweet for all the valuable likes. I realise this is a very specific product, by the way.

Back to All Or Nothing briefly and without opening up too many old wounds, episode 4 deals a lot with the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang situation from last season – and it’s well worth a watch. There’s a lot we already know, and I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories about Arteta’s ‘dossier’ of misdemeanours, so that’s not a spoiler.

There is no smoking gun where there’s a great reveal about what precisely made the relationship between captain and manager break down, and it appears to be cumulative. That said, I can’t help but think there’s still something important we don’t know and will probably never know – at least until one of them pens an autobiography (assuming that the terms of the departure aren’t tied up in some kind of NDA).

Also, I really like Carlos Cuesta, the personal development coach (not sure of his exact title). He comes across as really personable, really positive, and there’s one bit in particular in the newly released episodes that made me laugh out loud. Anyway, I’ll leave it there for that, and let you guys watch.

There’s not a lot happening in terms of ins or outs, unless you want to talk about Pablo Mari again, but I don’t know if that’s really necessary. It’s no slight on him and he seems like a very nice person, but which Italian club he chooses isn’t really the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

I did see some chatter about Albert Sambi Lokonga and interest from Milan. I think it got debunked pretty quickly, but it was strange to see it reported that he’s available. I’d be quite surprised if that were the case, midfield at Arsenal is a strange place right now, and I don’t think we’re well stocked enough to let someone like him go.

That said, I am curious as to what kind of role he’s going to play this season. Early on in the Premier League, he might be a final 20 minutes kind of player to add some energy, but this might well depend on the scoreline. In pre-season he played a bit as an 8, but it was reported last season that he was being developed to play in that deeper midfield role.

I imagine the Europa League group stages will see him start, and maybe we can glean something from where he starts in those games. Ensuring as many players in his squad have competitive minutes is something the manager is going to have to do, so will it be a case that Mohamed Elneny plays deepest, and Sambi is further forward? I do think there’s a talented player there, and one season in the Premier League isn’t sufficient – for me at least – to be definitive about him.

He’s not quite an unknown quantity, because we saw flashes of what he’s capable of last season, but he doesn’t get mentioned a great deal when discussion of our midfield takes place. It will be interesting to see how this campaign plays out for him, and where Arteta sees him fit into his increasingly flexible range of options. Where exactly does he fit?

Right. That’s it for this morning. If you’re looking for something to listen to, James and I have you covered over on Patreon, with a new episode of Waffle in which we talk about anything and everything except Arsenal. Check it out here.

Have a great day, folks.

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