Mikel Arteta held his first press conference in weeks yesterday ahead of Monday’s game against West Ham. It wasn’t broadcast live via the official website though. Maybe they forgot the football was coming back or something.
Anyway, there are some bits and pieces we can get our teeth into. The injury news is one thing, and the focus is on Gabriel Jesus – about whom the manager was giving nothing away when it comes to a timeline for his return. He said:
It’s very difficult to put a time-frame. It was a significant injury and knowing him, I prefer not to give any dates away. It will take some time for sure. Obviously, he’s going through surgery so that’s the extent of the injury.
He’s generally pretty guarded about injuries and player recovery, so it’s not unusual, and I also wonder if he might just want to keep it as low-key as possible. Perhaps there’s the potential for a setback and he doesn’t want to say one date only for that to turn out to be incorrect.
He was a bit more specific about Reiss Nelson though, saying:
I’m talking about weeks. Not a matter of days but it will be out for a few weeks. Let’s see how he reacts to the next few days but he felt something straight away, and with sprinters that’s not a good sign.
Having spoken in the last week about his desire to win a new contract at Arsenal, this is particularly bad timing for the 23 year old. After suffering a bit of a setback Emile Smith Rowe is now ‘close’ according to Arteta, and if we go all in during the January window and bring in someone like Mykhailo Mudryk, then Nelson is going to find himself back down the pecking order again. You can’t win a new contract without playing, but fingers crossed he’s not too out for too long.
When Arteta spoke about needing more players and more resources, I think he was referring to the market, but also the players we have who have been sidelined this season. Smith Rowe, our second highest scorer from last season, has barely played. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been in and out but more out than in. And Nelson showed when he replaced Saka against Forest, he can contribute even if there are significant questions over his long-term future here.
Clearly though, January is going to be a month of some importance, and inevitably there were questions about that. He said:
We are going to be active, and active means always looking to strengthen the team. This squad still doesn’t have the luxury of not maximizing every single window and we have to do that because it’s really important. But then we want to get the right profile, the right player and a player that is really going to impact the team and take us to the next level.
You have to think that the recent get-together in the US, when Arteta, Edu and Tim Lewis travelled to meet Stan and Josh, wasn’t simply a chance to grab high tea. Face to face discussions about what we can do in January, how much money there is to spend, and how they’re planning to use it, must have been high on the agenda. As I said yesterday, when Arteta is guarded in other areas (tactics, injuries etc), he’s usually pretty straight-up when it comes to transfers. I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt that he wants at least one player in, and not just any player either.
That may provide the challenge, because the January window can be more difficult in that regard, but all we can do is hope they can get the right deal done as quickly as possible. There’s a lot of football coming up, some big games against some big teams (and Sp*rs), so if we can bolster the squad before then, it will be a boost to the team and the fans alike.
We can talk more about what he said about the resumption of football and what lies ahead over the next couple of days as we prepare for West Ham. But for now, let’s leave it there.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the Arteta/Carragher interview, Andrew Allen has done the world a solid by providing an entire transcript – which you can peruse here. We chat about it on the latest Arsecast which is available below.
For more listening goodness, over on Patreon we have a brand new episode of Waffle, the podcast in which James and I answer questions about everything except Arsenal. And in this one, we provide festive audio gifts for each other. Check it out here.
Right, pod is below. Have a good Friday folks.