It’s fairly quiet from an Arsenal perspective, but there is a bit of stuff regarding Gabriel Jesus whose trip to Brazil has people on edge a bit. Having not played for us since the end of October, and not trained properly with us, their insistence on calling him up for Interlull duty certainly makes me a bit anxious, because he is a player we need – regardless of how well Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah do when he’s absent.
As we sit just a point behind the leaders, there are so many more discussions about how we’re playing this season, rather than how many points we’ve earned. Which isn’t to say those aren’t legitimate, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that our football this season has been more functional than exciting more often than not. Delving into the reasons why opens up debates about how the manager is seeking greater ‘control’ (this season’s buzzword thus far), and I don’t doubt that’s true.
However, I also think part of it is that players like Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard being absent or not quite at their best have played a part too. Just look at the Sevilla game. Could we have won that game without Jesus? Sure. We did it in the game at home, but that night he made the difference in spectacular style, with an incredible assist and a brilliant goal. In the end we had to depend on our impressive defensive platform, but to get ahead the craft, the style, that little bit extra, came from Jesus.
Hence the reason why his international call-up is so vexatious. As I said the other day, it may well be that the minutes are useful for him, and thus for us, but the fear that he might aggravate the injury – or even pick up another one – is understandable. Brazil are not going to use him in the game against Colombia tomorrow, targetting Wednesday’s game with Argentina as one in which he might take some part.
Brazil head coach Fernando Diniz said yesterday in a press conference:
“I talked to Gabriel, and he didn’t come here without planning. He said he is feeling good. We thought it was an interesting risk to bring him here, he is good condition, and we are doing things with great care.
“As soon as he arrived, he had a new MRI scan. We are treating him very carefully, and if he’s in good condition, he can face Argentina.
“If not, I’m sure it was still very important for him to come here, and he’ll return to Arsenal in better shape than when he got here.”
That sounds fair enough really. While I’d prefer him not to be there, just to be on the safe side, it doesn’t sound as if they’re going to just throw him in unless they’re [relatively] confident of his ability to play a part. It doesn’t do Brazil much good to use a player who isn’t fit anyway, even if he’s an important forward option in the absence of other regulars who are missing through injury.
So, fingers crossed all will go well, whether he plays or not.
Finally, and hopefully the final time we’ll have to mention the officiating mess at Newcastle a couple of weeks ago, the audio from Bruno Guimaraes forearm on Jorginho was leaked. Listen here.
I mean, what can you say about this as their rationale for not deciding it was violent conduct?
He puts his arm up. There’s a glancing blow from the side, but for me it’s not used as a weapon.
NOT. USED. AS. A. WEAPON.
A weapon! Did he think he was dealing with a T-1000 who can shapeshift his arm into a comedy hammer or something? There is nothing in the rule-book about using your arm as a weapon. The rule-book clearly states:
A player who, when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm, is guilty of violent conduct unless the force used was negligible.
Given Jorginho ended up the ground, you can rule out the ‘negligible’ aspect of that, and those officials made a very serious error. One which has been glossed over by the focus on the goal, and while Arsenal been on the end of some iffy VAR decisions – like most clubs in fairness – this is by far the worst in my opinion.
It’s water under the bridge now, but it just highlights how, in the most challenging league in the world, teams don’t just have to concern themselves with quality of the opposition, but the ongoing ineptitude of officials who either fail to properly understand the laws of the game, or who actively choose to ignore them.
For some listening today, you can check out an episode of Waffle over on Patreon, the podcast in which me and James answer questions about anything and everything except Arsenal. Back tomorrow with more here, and a new Arsecast.