Welcome to the final Interlull of 2023. We had a giant Interlull this time last year, you might remember. The World Cup. But this is just a regular one where we worry about the players who have gone away and hope they came back unscathed, or it they’re scathed at all, it’s just some minor scathing and not a mega-scathe. Nobody needs that.
The news that Gabriel Jesus has flown to Brazil, accompanied by two other Arsenal Gabis, will be a frustration for Mikel Arteta, I’m sure. It seems that in the previous Interlull, we had advised Martinelli wouldn’t be available so Brazil didn’t pick him. Then they saw him come off the bench ahead of schedule to score a winner against Man City, so now they don’t believe a word we say. Or something.
I guess there are three ways this could go. He gets there, does some tests, and they decide he’s not fit enough. Or they decide he is fit enough and he plays some games and the minutes are useful. The third scenario is that he plays some minutes and aggravates his hamstring, at which point the Brazil coach better put his social media on private because he’s gonna get some messages.
There’s an interesting aspect to this as well, in terms of how much responsibility the player has with regards his injury. If he hasn’t trained yet with Arsenal, it’s because he’s not ready, and it’s surely incumbent on him to be honest about that with his national side. The politics of this stuff can be awkward though. The desire to play for your country coupled with a desire not to piss off the man who picks that team can play a part. As I said yesterday, let’s hope common sense can prevail – but let’s see.
Meanwhile, Martin Odegaard won’t be going away to play with Norway, and it was revealed he’s missed the last two games due to concussion. That’s why he was ok to play a few minutes against West Ham in the EFL Cup and make the bench for Sheffield United, but then not be available for Sevilla or Burnley. A whack in the head in training was sufficiently serious for him to be sidelined, and go through the various stages of concussion protocols which take place over consecutive days. Hence Arteta’s comments about it being a race against time for his involvement last weekend.
I don’t think it’s that which has kept him out of international duty, but perhaps it just clouded the situation enough for Arsenal and Norway to come to what seems like a sensible decision around a player who has a lot of minutes under his belt. On top of his Arsenal performances, he has played 90 minutes for Norway against Georgia and Spain, 77 minutes against Cyprus, and even 61 minutes in a friendly against Jordan. Also, let’s not forget that he went into the last Interlull (where he played those minutes against Cyprus and Spain), on the back of the nasty Mateo Kovacic challenge, which almost mangled his ankle.
I don’t think he’s been anywhere near his usual self since, so bar those few minutes he got against West Ham, the last game he started was Sevilla away on October 24th. We face Brentford on November 25th, so that has given him almost a month out of action. A month to recover, but also just to get a bit of a break, refocus and hopefully return as the influential player we know he can be. You never want players to be injured, but sometimes a player just needs a period where they can sit down, wipe the slate clean a bit, and go again.
Finally for today, Arsenal have apparently been ‘warned’ that the audio from the Newcastle game will be used on the Howard Webb and Michael Owen show. No doubt to demonstrate the efficacy of VAR and the competence of match officials who gave a push against Bukayo Saka at the weekend and everyone went ‘Yeah, that’s a push’, but are still trying to gaslight us into thinking Joelinton on Gabriel was absolutely fine.
At this point, I don’t even think I’d trust that the audio we’re going to hear is 100% genuine. It’d be the easiest thing in the world to edit out a bit here or there, or insert something if you really wanted. I suppose we have to trust that it is honest, but at the same time, you can’t live in the world we do and not be at least suspicious that you’re only getting a version of events, and not necessarily the full thing. Ok, so my hat might be slightly tinfoil here, but not without some justification.
Right, that’s it for now. For your listening pleasure we have an Arsecast Extra below if you haven’t had a chance to listen already, and we round up the weekend’s hilarious Premier League action over on Patreon in The 30.
Have a good one.