Daily Archives: March 11, 2023
Following what was quite an intense battle against Sporting CP in Lisbon, the Premier League returns to our screens with Bournemouth hosting red-hot Liverpool in the lunch time fixture, but everyone connected with Arsenal will take keen interest on the proceedings at Selhurst Park in the last fixture, when former Gunner, Patrick Vieira, leads his men against the defending champions, Manchester City. The Cityzens know that a win against Crystal Palace cuts the lead at the top to two points once again, putting Mikel Arteta’s men under intense pressure to come up with the goods against Fulham away.
Arteta will have some injury concerns to contend with, and as we are already aware, Mohamed Elneny remains the only long term absentee thus far, after going under the knife to mitigate a knee injury and following his new contract extension, the Egyptian midfielder will remain at the club for another campaign, which will give him the chance to say his goodbyes the right way when that contract expires.
Injuries are part and parcel of the beautiful game and what matters the most is how clubs react to them. Elneny got injured at a time when Arsenal’s midfield general, Thomas Partey, had his own injury concerns, and with Albert Sambi Lokonga set to depart the club on loan, it was absolutely essential for the Gunners to add quantity and quality to the midfield, and that came from a surprising transfer – Jorginho from London rivals, Chelsea. Jorginho hit the ground running from the get-go allowing Arsenal the opportunity to allow Partey recuperate fully well from his injury, and we have reaped the benefits of that, with Jorginho being a positive influence, on and off the pitch.
Elsewhere, club captain, Martin Odegaard, has been a mainstay in the first team and his attacking output has been exemplary, scoring nine goals and laying up six assists for his teammates. He trained well with the team and even travelled to Lisbon to be part of the squad to take on Sporting CP, but he became unwell and couldn’t feature in the game, putting his next clash against Fulham at risk. It’s been reported that Odegaard is recovering well from his illness and the Viking chieftain is very hopeful he would feature in the all-important clash against Fulham, but he will have to go through a fitness test to ascertain whether he will be fit enough to start.
Odegaard’s position in the squad is one that Mikel Arteta is stacked with options should the captain not be fit enough to start. Fabio Vieira is finding his rhythm in the side and will be pleased with his assist in his native country in midweek, and his style of play is somewhat similar to the Norwegian. Emile Smith-Rowe is another plausible option to play the Odegaard role, but the Englishman is still working his way to full fitness and isn’t really for the big time yet. Arteta can also tear a script from the Liverpool handbook and play three tenacious industrious hard workers – Partey, Jorginho and Granit Xhaka in midfield, but that’s highly unlikely, as it would affect the dynamism of the attacking play.
Gabriel Jesus is another player itching for a comeback, with his last competitive appearance for Arsenal coming before the World Cup in Qatar. Jesus didn’t feature much in the mundial, and managed to start alongside Gabriel Martinelli in the dead rubber game against Cameroon, but he suffered a knee injury that required surgery, sidelining him for the best part of four months.
Jesus has been heavily involved in some training sessions, but he will be assessed ahead of the clash against Fulham tomorrow,
“We will try not to rush him back, we will try to make a fair assessment between what he needs and when he’s comfortable, as well as give the team a boost that they will need in the next few weeks.
“Everything is going well, he needs time to get himself that confident and physical state to compete with a free mind, and when he is free to do that, we will throw him in.”
With Eddie Nketiah suffering a knock on his ankle and Leandro Trossard having a groin injury (more on his anon), Gabriel Martinelli has been tasked with the burden of spearheading Arsenal’s attack and he was on the end of some good chances against Sporting CP on Thursday with the pick of the bunch, being that solo effort that was quelled by some last-ditch defending. Martinelli showed good hold up play and off the ball movement associated with a modern complete center forward, so I would expect Arteta to listen to the medical team and make the best decision regarding Jesus.
One player whose injury came at the worst possible time was Trossard, who had nailed a spot as the center forward ahead of Nketiah, and played a pivotal role in Martinelli’s rise in form. Like Jorginho, Trossard joined the club in January, following the failed pursuit of Mykhailo Mudryk, and showed his immense quality, playing a role in the match winner against Manchester United and opening his Arsenal goalscoring account against Brentford. The Belgian maverick scored a sumptuous scorcher against Leicester but VAR played a role in cancelling the effort.
After just 22 minutes in the home clash against Bournemouth, Trossard signaled to the bench that he felt some discomfort and had to leave the pitch and head straight to the tunnel, and it’s never a good sight seeing a player go all the way, rather than hanging out with his buddies on the bench. The initial prognosis on Trossard’s groin injury is that its not as bad as everyone feared, but he will not be available for selection till after the international break at the very least.
I’d preview the Fulham game tomorrow after getting more updates from Mikel Arteta’s presser.
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