Monday, April 22, 2024

Left-back, left out …

Morning all.

Not much happening in Arsenal terms this morning. I guess the thing we’re waiting on this week is the seriousness of Jurrien Timber’s injury. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad, but it never looks good when a player goes down suddenly with nobody around him. It’d be cruel if he picked up an injury on his home debut that kept him out, but football can be exactly that at times. Let’s see.

His departure on Saturday meant playing time for Takehiro Tomiyasu, a player I think could be really important for us this season. He can literally play in any position across the back-line, and he gives us real defensive depth. I know his season was cut short last time with that knee injury, but it’s worth noting he had made 31 appearances in all competitions at that point, so the perception that he wasn’t involved that much isn’t really the case.

Left-back remains such an interesting area. We have Oleksandr Zinchenko back in full training but still a little way from match fit. When he returns, how does that impact the team? With Thomas Partey doing a similar job from right-back against Nottingham Forest, it’d mean a more traditional midfield role for him … if he’s selected – or potentially a deeper role for Declan Rice with Kai Havertz ahead of him.

As I wrote yesterday, I wished we’d stepped on the gas a bit more in the second half and scored another goal to give us a more comfortable lead, but you can understand how early season you’re still building fitness – not to mention we had three new players on the pitch (two after Timber went off). It will take time for some of the relationships to develop and to find the kind of fluency we saw last season.

Going back to left-back, what now for Kieran Tierney? From certain starter, to bench option, to not even being in the squad. It’s a tough situation for him, and while any potential injury to Timber might change the plans a little bit in the short-term, the longer-term implications of the way this squad has been built don’t augur well. There are arguably four players ahead of him in Mikel Arteta’s mind (Zinchenko, Timber, Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior), and fifth choice left-back is not a position a player of his quality can allow himself to be in.

But where to? The much talked about move to Newcastle did not materialise, and the loan offer from Real Sociedad doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I am quite surprised there hasn’t been more Premier League interest in him, you could make the case for him at quite a few teams so as we head into the final couple of weeks of the window, his people – and Arsenal – need to be busy because without a move, he’s barely going to play this season.

Amusingly, as I’ve written this, there’s been an update from a Newcastle based journalist saying they want either Tierney or Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella on loan. FFP concerns are cited as the reason why the richest club on the planet can’t pay a transfer fee, and while that might be true, I’m a little unsure as to how that can be the case when Chelsea are about to spend a British transfer record fee – again! – and have been throwing money around like lunatics since the arrival of Todd Boehly.

The article suggests a similar kind of deal to the one we’re about to do for David Raya, where a loan this season could then defer an actual payment for 12 months, which sounds a bit more acceptable. But it would need to be an obligation more than an option, and given Newcastle’s vast resources the fee should 100% reflect that. In a year’s time when they have  announced a new sponsorship deal with a PIF owned company that specialises in ‘innovative blue-sky thinking products’ that won’t hit the market until 2029, they can fork up.

Right, I’m gonna leave it there for this morning.

James and I are recording the Arsecast Extra today, but not until late afternoon. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

For now, have a good one.

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