Arsenal will play Man City at The Etihad Stadium on Saturday 28th January, unless the date is moved for television, after all, it is the prime tie of the next round. Arsenal v Man City twice this month should make for good viewing.
Wasn’t it good to see Emile Smith Rowe return? Yes he was rusty but that’s to be expected after several months out of the game and despite going off, Bukayo Saka is fine, fit and ready to face Tottenham at the weekend.
Last night’s 3-0 win over Oxford Utd however, was not good viewing. It wasn’t until Mikel Arteta made his changes, that we looked like a top of the League Premiership football team. In fact for much of the time, it was hard to tell which of he two sets of players were playing their football in League One. Three quick goals in the second half though, saw us through. Two from Eddie Nketiah and one from Mo Elneny. Fabio Vieira was involved in two of the goals, firstly with a great ball into the box for Elneny to head past the Oxford keeper, the second, a lovely pass through to Eddie Nketiah who rounded the keeper before slotting the ball home. Our third, Nketiah’s second, was probably the pick of the bunch. Gabriel Martinelli was the provider this time from a quick counter-attack. Our number 14 still had a lot to do but his little chip over the keeper from a difficult angle was a joy to watch.
If you feel disappointed with last night’s performance, imagine how Mikel Arteta must feel. What we saw, he saw and for much of the 90 minutes, it wasn’t at all pretty. The performance epitomised why he talks so often about needing to add quality to his squad. Our midfield was pretty much non existent and in my opinion, that’s why we struggled to find any rhythm for an hour. If Mo Elneny and Sambi Lokonga can’t boss the midfield against a League One team, lord help us should Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka get injured. If I was Mikel Arteta, I’d be banging on Edu’s door this morning, pleading with him to sign a midfielder this month.
Mikel Arteta – On the midfield changes he made…
There were two different moments in the game and obviously some players have more time on the pitch than others and there are things that obviously we have to improve and become better at, but this is my job. The subs are really important in this competition. Having five subs – you need to use them at the right moment and they had the impact that we’re hoping for.
I’ve no idea if he’d be the answer or if it’s true, but according to the Telegraph, Nottingham Forest have made an £18m offer for Danilo. Young, Brazilian and at that price, wouldn’t break the bank either, not if the kind of money being talked about for Mudryk is anything to go by. Send Sambi Lokonga out on loan to get playing time and see things go from there. If all goes well, he’ll come back in the summer a better player. As said before, Elneny will probably leave at the end of the season when his contract expires and neither Partey or Xhaka can go on forever.
Arsenal are in a great position to qualify for Champions League football this season but if last night’s performance is anything to go by, if injuries hit us and Mikel Arteta has to call on too many of his second string players, that chance could become a slim one.
Perhaps I’m worrying unnecessarily but perhaps that’s because of the way we finished last season, the season under Unai Emery too, remain fresh in my mind.
Catch up in the comments.