Thursday, February 29, 2024

A new deal for Tomi ahead of a January headache for Arteta

Morning all, happy Friday to you all.

Let’s start with news via David Ornstein that Arsenal are in talks with Takehiro Tomiyasu over a new contract. He says in The Athletic (£):

The Premier League club have made an offer to the Japan international with the two parties expected to reach an agreement in due course.

Good news, and if you’re a regular reader you’ll know just how highly I rate Tomiyasu. We’ve come to accept his versatility quite easily, without really thinking too much about how incredible it is that we have a player who you can deploy in either full-back position, or either centre-half position, and not worry for a single second about any drop off in his ability to do the job. There really aren’t too many players out there who can do that as well as he can.

When we signed Jurrien Timber, we thought we were getting a right-back who can operate at centre-half, but in pre-season – perhaps more out of necessity than invention – he played at left-back, and did well. Nevertheless, had he not picked up that injury on his Premier League debut, we’d now have two players who can operate comfortably all the way across the back-line. His absence though makes Tomiyasu an even more important member of the squad, and the Japan international is someone who gives you a real sense of defensive security when you think about the team when he’s in it.

Unfortunately, we’re going to miss him for a while in January because of the Asian Cup taking place in Qatar. Japan play Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam between the 14th and the 24th, with the knock-out rounds running all the way to February 10th. Even with the break in January after the FA Cup third round, he could potentially miss Premier League fixtures against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, and West Ham – and if Japan go the distance, there will probably be a need to give him some time off to recharge his batteries after the pressures of an international tournament.

I know we have some Japanese readers so I won’t say I hope the tournament goes badly for them, but if it does, it might alleviate the January headache the manager will have about Tomiyasu’s absence. Let’s also not forget that Thomas Partey could be gone that month too. The manager spoke about his fitness before the Lens game, saying it was possible he could return before the end of the year, but if he does, Ghana will surely call him up for AFCON which takes place in Ivory Coast between January 14th and February 11th.

I suppose you could say, given the fact we’re top of the league and have come through our Champions League group in impressive fashion, that we’re not really missing Partey. He played a bit at the start of the season at right-back, not in midfield, and since then has been absent/injured. I do think it’s encouraging that we have coped without him, and in some ways I’m pleased the team is evolving beyond him, but we’re only an injury or suspension away from really needing a player of his quality again. So there is a touch of good fortune, if you want to call it that. Perhaps though, it’s evidence to Mikel Arteta and Edu that it’s not so much Partey himself we need, but someone of similar quality for that position.

In previous seasons the team suffered in his absence, and while I certainly think he’d have contributed plenty had he been fit, it shows our reliance on him has diminished. Maybe it just makes the decision to move on and find a younger player to refit that position a bit easier. Let’s see. As for whether anything will happen in January, the market itself dictates a lot, but dealing without Tomiyasu, Partey, and Timber (who at least is making progress but still remains some distance from a comeback), may dictate more.

Right, I’ll leave it there for now. We’ll have a Wolves preview podcast for you a bit later on Patreon, until then, have a good one.

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