Ex BBC journalist David Ornstein, whose reports are usually on the money, says that our promising young striker Folarin Balogun may leave on a free transfer, with Liverpool a likely destination.
My thought on hearing the news was: “Well, why wouldn’t he go to Liverpool?” It’s a sad indictment of the relative standing of the two clubs at the moment.
Meanwhile there are reports that Arsenal are thinking about sacking Arteta and bringing in Thomas Tuchel, the German coach who recently left Paris St Germain. Tuchel did a great job at Borussia Dortmund and got PSG to a Champions League final.
Both of these stories point to a club (our club) that is currently being very badly managed and is slipping deeper into crisis.
The Tuchel story may just be ‘paper talk’, but the Balogun one seems genuine and is particularly embarrassing. Our inability to secure an up-and-coming youth talent speaks volumes about how things are being done (or not done) behind the scenes.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we need an overhaul at the highest levels of management (by which I do not mean Arteta, but the team above him).
Today’s game brings an even sharper focus on our problems. We entertain Chelsea, who are currently fifth in the table and 11 points ahead of us.
Not many Arsenal fans will expect us to win, but you never know. I start every match day feeling optimistic and this one is no different, even though that may seem delusional.
One thing that will sink my spirits instantly will be if the team sheet includes the names “Willian” and “Xhaka.” Unfortunately I expect it will. Arteta seems to want to persist with certain players despite all the evidence that their contributions to our campaign have been truly awful so far.
Their continued presence is, I am sure, partly to do with the absence of fans in the stadium. If supporters were present I think Willian would either be well away from the first team or would have significantly upped his game. As it is he can coast through matches doing absolutely nothing and still get picked for the next game. He is starting to look like one of the worst signings ever made at Arsenal (although there is stiff competition for that title).
Injury news is that Aubameyang will have a late fitness test for a calf strain; Partey is not back yet but Martinelli may be available after suffering bruising to his shin when he was clobbered by the Man City ‘keeper on Tuesday.
Here’s the line-up I expect from El Patron:
Bellerin – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Ceballos – Xhaka – Elneny
Pepe – Lacazette – Aubameyang/Martinelli
If we lose, you can expect those Thomas Tuchel stories to heat up.
If we win, well, it might be just the boost we need going into a run of games from which we should be expecting to take points.
Come on You Gunners.