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June 2021

Watford v Arsenal: the return of the injured, and Alexis still south of the equator.

By Bulldog Drummond

You may have thought that the international type of games were all over, but far from it.  There’s another game tomorrow (Wednesday) morning between Brazil and Chile – which means Alexis is playing.

Brazil have qualified for Russia.   Chile will be going to Russia if they beat Brazil – but the game is in Brazil. However a draw or a defeat could still see them qualify, or go into the play-off with New Zealand (another couple of weeks out for Alexis) or get knocked out altogether.

So will we see Alexis at the weekend?   He has been known to leap into his private jet straight after the game and fly back to London, so it is possible.  Maybe as a sub though at the weekend.  Or if playing from the start, then certainly doing the march off the pitch in disgust thing that he does a little way into the second half.

Incidentally the Telegraph is running the tale that “Man City confident of signing Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez in January”.  This is really built upon the thought that from 1 January clubs are free to talk to players who are out of contract in the summer – of which there turns out to be many around the leagues.  Which means Arsenal could sign Lemar and let Alexis go – the summer transfer story part two.

Or not as the case might be.

The Telegraph says, “If Arsenal decide to sell Sánchez in January it will be interesting to see how it is received by the club’s supporters given he is, by far, their best player.”

Best player?  Well, not this season, in my opinion, and these wretched internationals never do him much good.  I think Ramsey has been a player re-born.  As for Kolasinak…

Meanwhile the injury to Mustafi led to tales of crisis and a list of seven injured players (most of whom were not injured of course) and a slightly more moderate approach approach of “Arsenal face defensive dilemma” from the Telegraph came to the fore.  The old admirals and vicars house journal also confirmed what we thought: both Mesut Özil and Danny Welbeck resumed full training last week.

Thinking of the defence the first choice back-three is currently Koscielny, Mustafi and Nacho Monreal but we also have Rob Holding and Per Mertesacker are options.  Calum Chambers might be considered for the beach.  There is talk that Koscielny is suffering again with his Achilles, but despite all the doom and gloom we do have enough players.  At least we did the last time I looked.

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But then there is the issue of suddenly changing the whole system around and playing a 4-2-3-1 approach so as only to need two centre backs. The argument against that is that the Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka partnership works because of the defensive nature of the three at the back and two wing backs; they are allowed to get forward unless the opposition is pounding in with raid after raid.

However the Independent has been running the story that “Arsene Wenger warns Jack Wilshere that new contract is on the line as midfielder bids to prove fitness”.  That piece suggests that Jack needs to step up and start playing Premier League games.  Jack could play alongside Xhaka and Ramsey could then play further forward.

Speaking of Jack Mr W said, “In fact he had a very good game in BATE Borisov, especially a brilliant first half where he was back to his best, so he’s not far away now. Let’s hope in the next two or three weeks he can play regularly in the first team.”   That sounds like being picked for the Watford game.

And at least Jack can be happy that he is not playing for what the Telegraph calls “the team that no one likes any more.”  (England that is).

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