Thursday, June 20, 2024

Defenders + Arteta’s environment

Morning all. Happy Friday to you.

Mikel Arteta met the press yesterday ahead of our game against Crystal Palace on Monday, and was asked about the injury to Jurrien Timber, and whether Arsenal might react in the market. He said:

We didn’t plan for this injury so we have to assess now what the options are and the best way to get the best out of the players. I cannot control anything that is not here. We are always open and we have to always be open to react if something happens, not only with an injury but with the market as well and that’s what we are doing.

He’s made a few comments in the last couple of weeks about the market itself, and things we can’t control. I think he said something like ‘Things we don’t want to happen’. Clearly a significant injury to one of our summer signings is one of those things, but interest from other clubs in our players might be another one.

As mentioned previously, this squad is still too heavy, and and there are currently 11 defenders listed on the official website. Even if Arsenal had the cash at hand to go out and buy a Timber replacement, realistically room has to be made. Of those 11, you can break them down into three groups.

1 – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior, Tomiyasu, Zinchenko, Timber – key members of the first team plans.

2 – Holding, Tierney – Not necessarily in the plans but usable if you really needed, to varying degrees.

3 – Tavares, Cedric – I feel a bit bad putting Nuno in the same bracket as his countryman because he’s younger and far more likely to be more useful to another team, but in terms of his future at Arsenal, it fits.

Another consideration is that you have signed Timber to a 5 year deal, believing he can bring something to your side. This injury will, fingers crossed, represent around 20% of that time period, so when you make a decision about a replacement, that has to be taken into account. I realise there’s often no room for sentiment in football, it’s a win now discuss it tomorrow kinda business, but sometimes the best thing to do is cope with what you’ve got, and wait.

Then again:

This is another thing we can’t control – so it might have an impact on the decision making between now and the end of the window. We have to hope the outgoing market heats up a bit. My perception, and it may well be wrong, is that other clubs are selling players with a frequency – and for sums of money – that we simply are not. It’s all easier said than done, I realise, but with two weeks left in the window we’ve got a 33 man squad, and something’s gotta give. The importance of selling is made clear by the injury to Timber, because if you’ve brought in a chunk of cash, it’s easier to justify spending more.

I thought Arteta was also interesting on the David Raya arrival. He made a point about the need for quality in the squad, and in the context of the Timber news this week, you can understand it perfectly well. It just takes a second on a pitch for a player who has no real record of injury to end up sidelined for months, so that safety net is important.

He then spoke about the level of competition he wants to create in the squad, saying:

We want to be better every single day and to be better the environment has to change and be better. We tend to always be at a certain level because it’s in our nature – when you change the environment and the environment is to be 100 per cent every day, believe me, the level is going to increase. I’ve seen that with my close eyes with the players that we have now than what we had two years ago. If we want to be better, we have to create that environment.

To have two excellent goalkeepers is great – there’s nothing wrong with it. We have two great left-wingers and two great strikers and two great holding midfielders. We have Jorginho, Thomas and Declan and that is not a problem, and it should not be a problem.

With his comments too about the load on players, you wonder if there’s something to having that depth in a position where normally there’s an obvious number 1. I also think there’s something to the idea that Arteta believes Ramsdale needs to be pushed to be the best he can be, and with all due respect to Matt Tuner, he wasn’t ever going to do that. Raya will.

Speaking of whom, he reportedly played in a behind closed doors game against Luton yesterday. We won 3-0 with goals from Trossard and Saka (does he need to play in a game like this?!), while Oleksandr Zinchenko and Reiss Nelson also featured as they make their way back from injury.

For some extra reading this morning, Lewis has a new Tactics Column for you here.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. There’s a brand new Arsecast for you below, in which I talk to Clive Palmer about Timber, goalkeepers, the challenges that the Saudi Arabian league is going to present for the Premier League, and lots more.

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