*evicts Spiderman – his rent was overdue anyways*
So I haven’t published a post on this blog in four months…
For a guy that has written over 1,500 posts in nine years, it’s simply not good enough, and for that I apologize. I’ve always longed for someone to hold the fort while I am away but that didn’t happen, but it’s not enough not to write in four months. But it’s cool – I’m back like Hector Bellerin would be after six to nine months.
It’s really sad to see our best right back suffer such an injury that could be career threatening, but I take some solace in the fact that he would be given the best medical assistance required for a speedy recovery. His surgery is scheduled to take place in Spain while he would return to London to start the grueling rehabilitation process.
Hector Bellerin had regressed as a footballer in recent seasons but he picked up some form under the tutelage of Unai Emery. With five assists to his name, he beefed up his creative numbers and you can’t underestimate his importance to the way we play our football under the new gaffer. After hitting a good streak of form, he suffered a setback with a calf injury that sidelined him for a while and he was eased into action by the manager, only to sustain this latest injury that would rule him out for the rest of the season, as well as some chunk of the 2019/20 campaign.
So where do we go from here? With Bellerin no longer available for selection, Emery has only two options – work with the other lads at his disposal or delve into the transfer market to probably get a short term mitigation. A loan deal for
Nathaniel Clyne some right back.
Let’s explore Option 1 – using the lads at our disposal. In the hierarchy of right backs in the club, Emery has Stephan Lichtsteiner, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Carl Jenkinson as able deputies for Hector Bellerin.
Lichtsteiner, that just turned 35 recently by the way, has seen that life in the Premier League can be a struggle, even if you’re Methusalah’s age mate and have won a truckload of titles in the Serie A. I was one of those fans that had a poker face when he was the first signing in the Emery era and to be honest, I didn’t expect him to light any fireworks, but from what I knew about him, I expected him to put a shift in the games he gets selected. Early on in his Arsenal career, he had it all peachy and creamy, scoring against some farmers in the Europa League and having fun with some lower league folks in the Carabao Cup but Bellerin got injured and he was selected to play with the big boys in the EPL. We all know how that panned out – there were the shite fests away to Liverpool and Manchester United then that header to Brighton’s Jurgen Locadia that cost us three points. As an elder statesman, I didn’t expect him to get that much minutes at the Premier League and with Bellerin injured, he could become a liability in an already shaking backline.
Verdict – I hope he features in only FA Cup and Europa League games.
Then there’s Carl Jenkinson, the forgotten true and true Gooner that has plied his trade in several clubs but still finds himself with us. He’s certainly not a world beater by his fair standards but Jenks gives you 100% commitment and heart, which compensates for his lack of ability. He possesses a nice cross on him though, with his assist in the Blackpool game a reminder of what he can do when selected. What I do love about him is the fact that he doesn’t whine about not playing consistently, and will do his bit when selected, but there’s a reason he’s our fourth choice right back. With his contract expiring this summer, Jenks will certainly try pastures anew but he still has a role to play for us between now and the end of the campaign.
Verdict – He will only remain a last gasp option when the injury crisis deepens
AMN – one of the nicest acronyms you’d ever see till you find out what it means and then you’d wish you didn’t like the acronym initially, as you expected a bit more. That’s how I can relate to his footballing ability as well. With Maitland-Niles, you have to first of all commend him for playing out of his comfort zone to help his team – he’s not a full back by trade (had a strong midfield showing for England in the triumphant U20 World Cup campaign) but he has been deployed as a left back, right back and even right winger, like your modern day John O’Shea. However, the only challenge of being a jack-of-all-trades has the potential to make you a master of none. AMN has the physical qualities that can make him a decent full back, but he still needs to do some work on his defensive side, as there’s room for improvement.
Verdict – Deploy as Arsenal’s make-shift right back and hope he builds some consistency
Now we are at Option 2 – signing a player, or maybe securing a loan deal, from the transfer market. Well, this is not Football Manager 2019, where you have the luxury of clicking on a tab and all the right back options appear for you. In real life, it’s a lot complex. For starters, the manager has already mentioned that there are no funds to sign players in this transfer window, so this already limits our options to loan deals, which it’s not as easy as going over the counter to get an item. In the Premier League, I can think about maybe Matteo Darmian, Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne that would be the noteworthy options, but everyone isn’t like Arsenal that enjoys strengthening their rivals.
In conclusion, the onus is on Unai Emery to make the best decision for his team and as an Arsenal supporter, I’d give my err, support, to the option he decides to take.
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Following his £16m move from Manchester United to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2014, the Englishman may have played just enough to justify his paltry price tag, especially considering the inflation of market price in recent years. However, everyone can agree that he hasn’t lived up to his potentials, and for a player who is approaching 28, it may be just the right time for Arsenal to sell and both parties can move on.
According to Goal, Danny Welbeck would be leaving the Gunners together with a star teammate as Unai Emery looks to build a stronger team than the one he inherited from Arsene Wenger. Consequently, West Ham and Everton have been backed as the most likely destinations of the 27 year old. Crystal Palace have also been backed by bookmakers, such as betting top 10, as a possible destination.
Danny Welbeck started his career at Manchester United amidst lots of pundit acclaims which virtually all English prospects have become accustomed to. He has the pace, and could play as a lone striker or on either flanks. He was meant to command his place in the English national team, and he did.
However, as football fans all over the world get accustomed to English talents failing to live up to their gifts, Welbeck has come into that category. Similar to the case of his countryman Wilshere, injuries have not been favourable, and the forward has had to fight several injuries in all of his seasons at the Emirates.
The presence of Unai Emery at Arsenal, as reported by The Sun, could be the catalyst needed to offload the Manchester-born forward. If anything, the Spanish tactician has shown in his early days in London that he isn’t scared of letting go of established players as evident in the exodus of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.
More importantly, Welbeck’s place in this Arsenal squad is not assured. Upfront, he has to contend with Gabonese player Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and French forward Lacazette. On the flanks, he has Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to compete with.
The former United forward played a total of 41 games for Arsenal in the 2017/18 season, scoring nine goals which is a below par return. While the total number of games played for the Gunners might seem incredible, he played 28 times in the Premier League, with 16 of those as a substitute. His number of games in the Europa League (10) was as a result of Lacazette’s injury and Aubameyang’s inability to play for a second team in the competition.
With the Gunners looking to fight City and others for the top place this season, they need to get rid of players that are not actively pushing them toward their grand goal, and Welbeck needs to create that extra space for one more top notch summer signing.
Arsenal has been on an amazing run lately which culminated in 9 consecutive wins up until Saturday, when Middlesbrough pooped Arsene Wenger’s birthday party. In fairness to Boro, it wasn’t a stroll in the park for the Gunners as Petr Cech earned his pay with some excellent saves to keep the game at bay. On the other end of the pitch, Victor Valdes had a stormer and the scoreline was a reflection of the proceedings.
With the Premier League shoved to the corner for some EFL Cup action, Arsene Wenger is set to rest his first team starters, allowing the second string side to take center stage. The official site showed pictures of the players training and it was nice seeing Carl Jenkinson in action. For a player that has missed so much action after suffering that nasty knee injury while on loan at West Ham, it would be a proud moment for Corporal Jenks wearing the sacred Red and White again.
Arsenal Team News
There would be wholesale changes to the squad with Emiliano Martinez in goal for Petr Cech. David Ospina is the club’s Champions League goalkeeper and possibly the FA Cup goalie, so I don’t expect him to be the custodian in goal against Reading today. In defense, I expect to see the British triumvirate of Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and the exciting Rob Holding playing alongside the fit-again Gabriel Paulista. These four players are badly in need of games and would be hoping the midfielders and attackers do their business to ensure they qualify for the next round.
In midfield, I believe we would see Mohamed Elneny in action but with Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla set to be rested, we could see Jeff Reine-Adelaide and possibly Alex Iwobi in the creative midfield role. I would also expect the ‘forgotten’ Olivier Giroud to be flanked by Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox has been pushing hard for a starting berth and this would be offer another opportunity for the young Englishman to strut his stuff.
Arsenal Injury / Suspension News
Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck (knee), Santi Cazorla (Achilles tendon), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Granit Xhaka (suspension)
Arsenal Predicted Lineup
Reading Team News
Arsenal’s opponents will not be pushovers and the recent draw with Boro would be a stark reminder of the team not to underrate any side. Jaap Stam’s side aren’t doing badly in the Skybet Championship, fresh off a 1-0 away win over Rotherham that has seen them languish in eighth place. Reading has featured in three EFL Cup rounds before the draws cast them against the Gunners. They had already dispatched Plymouth Argyle, Milton Keynes Dons and Brighton. The Gunners will have to be mindful of John Swift that is currently leading the scoring charts for the Royals with four goals.
Reading Injury / Suspension
Reading has a clean bill of health
Reading Predicted Lineup
- Last Five Games: W W W W D
- Last Result: Arsenal 0-0 Middlesbrough
- Leading Goalscorer: Theo Walcott (8)
- Last Five Games: L D D L W
- Last Result: Rotherham United 0-1 Reading
- Leading Goalscorer: John Swift (4)
Gooner Daily predicts a 4 – 1 win.
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