The final games of the Interlull take place today.
Arsenal eyes will be on Georgia, where Martin Odegaard’s Norway travel for a Euro 2024 qualifier. Kieran Tierney will be in action for Scotland against Spain, while Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland take on Israel. That’s it for the competitive action, but Belgium have a friendly against Germany so Leandro Trossard could feature, while Matt Turner was in goal for the US as they beat El Salvador 1-0.
Meanwhile, Thomas Partey was left on the bench as Ghana drew 1-1 with Angola. Afterwards, their head coach Chris Hughton said, “Thomas has some small injury issues. We felt it was too big a risk to start him.”
As you’re probably aware, Arsenal sent physio Simon Murphy to accompany Partey as he went on international duty last week. Whichever way you want to look at that, whether you think it’s just sensible or something else, it’s not typical. Players going away with their national teams don’t usually have a member of their club’s medical staff with them.
You assume that ordinarily there are lines of communication between the clubs and the countries, to advise on any ongoing issues, aches and pains, and all the rest. But for a senior physio to go with a player, you just don’t really see it. Not least because all he can do is provide advice to his peers in the national team set-up, he’d have no authority to make any kind of decision.
Obviously there might be a benefit to Ghana. If Partey is dealing with an ongoing problem, which is something a lot of players do throughout the season, then having someone at hand who understands it 100% could be useful. He played the full 90 minutes of their previous game (also against Angola), but wasn’t used off the bench as they drew 1-1 yesterday. Which, I will admit, worries me a little. I get that people say ‘Well, he’s on the bench so he must be ok-ish’, but in a qualifier you’re drawing (and 1-0 down in until the 71st minute), not using one of your best players who is available as a sub raises a few question for me.
Perhaps it was just common sense based on what the Ghana medical team themselves assessed, how Partey himself felt, and maybe even with some input from the Arsenal physio. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to just be a little concerned because of his injury record since he joined:
This is one of those where we’re likely to be on tenterhooks until the line-up for the game on Saturday drops. We know the manager is often at pains not to provide any kind of team news beforehand. I assume because he doesn’t want to tip his hat the opposition in any way, but that’s been a feature of his press conferences since he arrived.
So, when it comes to the run-in, keep fingers crossed, but in the summer you’d have to think there’s going to be a conversation about how we augment this area of the squad so we’re not as reliant on the fitness of one player. I think this might also put paid to the idea that, if we needed to use someone else at right-back, Partey might be that guy.
It’s not to say that playing in central midfield is easy, but how long do you think he’d last making the kind of lung-busting runs up and down the wing that Ben White does? I could be wrong, of course, but I wouldn’t feel massively confident about it – but I’m sure this is something the manager will have given some thought to anyway.
Right, there’s not much else happening today. Just a reminder that Arsenal Women are in action at the Emirates tomorrow night in a Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. They’re 1-0 down from the first leg, so if you want to go and support and give them what might be a helpful boost, tickets are still available, starting from just £6. All the details are here: https://www.arsenal.com/tickets