With the summer transfer window set to close in a matter of days, rumours of our own Emile Smith Rowe leaving the club have run rampant. After having missed most of the 2022-23 campaign due to a persistent groin injury and subsequent surgery, I think I speak for most if not all of us when I say I expected to see more of him during last season’s run in, the preseason, and the early stages of this campaign. However, it starts to feel like he’s more likely to leave the club than to ever feature for it. It all comes down to midnight GMT on 1 September. Chelsea are lurking. So too are West Ham.Continue reading
Just as we thought Jesus had risen, putting in an effervescent shift in the 5-3 thrashiing of Barcelona, he was left out of the squad for Wednesday’s Emirates Cup clash with AS Monaco. Because his name is Jesus and he’s going to return soon, we’re obliged to discuss this in religious terms. Instead, let’s go with Michael Corleone, adapted ever so slighty: just when we thought he was in,…they pull him back out. To allay fears, Arteta said it was a “little procedure” to deal with what he called “some irritation.” Rest easy, Goonerland.Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that it was just over a year ago that Emile Smith Rowe had completed an effervescent campaign in which he scored 11 goals in 37 appearances. Alongside Bukayo Saka, it looked like a genuine youth movement would re-invigorate the club Sadly, though, the Smith’s scintillating start to that 2012-22 season faltered, and he scored just one goal in his 12 appearances. Still, his future seemed bright—but that’s when the wheels came off. Fast forward to now, and one has to wonder whether the lad can find his way back.Continue reading
I tried to warn us. Southampton may be bottom of the league, but they’re a bogey team at the worst of times. When we went down 0-2 and again 1-3, too many of us gave in, threw in the towel, resorted to the old loser mentality of the last decade or so when fourth place and an occasional FA Cup were enough to sustain us. Thin gruel, that, and it’s understandable to a degree that such a mentality is hard to shake. Old habits die hard, but this is one that we have to put to the sword and fast. Too many of us left the stadium early. Too many of us started tweeting out absolute bollocks. Too many of us don’t get what it means to support this club.Continue reading
Well, that escalated quickly. Before the match, Leandro Trossard was a doubt, facing a late fitness test after also having missed the trip to Lisbon. Fast forward about 45 minutes from kickoff, and Trossard had notched tree assists and was unlucky not have more but for some wasteful finishing from his mates. He probably should have had a goal or two to his name, but let’s not be churlish. Thanks in large part to his false-nining his way about the pitch, Fulham were thoroughly discombobulated to the point that Martin Ødegaard had time to take four touches in the box on his way to scoring our third goal of the half. This made Trossard the first player in Prem history to get a hat trick of asissts in the first half of an away game.
He’s also the first to get a hat-trick of goals and assists in a single Prem campaign since our own Santi Cazorla did the same in 2012-13. He’s now gone for three goals and three assists since coming over from Brighton in January, eclipsing the production of Mudryk (£88m fee, one assist), Richarlison (£60m fee, nada), and Cody Gakpo (£40m, four goals) combined. His £20m fee looks better by the week, and if he were to keep this up, we might just asking ourselves whether we really need Jesus.
Kidding. For breathlessly as we’ve waited for Jesus’s return, we’d be remiss to overlook how vital Trossard has been. At first, we relied on Eddie Nketiah, who did his best after the post-World Cup restart, scoring four goals in his first five appearances. He was a bit of a square peg in a round hole, more of a poacher who preferred to stay central to finish than a false nine like Jesus. Enter Trossard. Since his signing, he’s become Arteta’s first choice “striker”. He plays a role more similar to Jesus, drifting wide (especially to the left, his “ancestral” position). Like Jesus, he floats about, challenging defenders to decide how to, well, defend against him. It’s no accident then that all three of his asissts came from the left wing (one being a corner, the other two as crosses from open play). Highlighting his fluidity, his best scoring chances came from shots he look to the right of the penalty spot.
What’s more, he seems to bring out the best from Martinelli, who frequently looked isolated as he waited for Nketiah to make space. Now that Trossard has given license to roam, Martinelli has sparked back to life. In the same five matches in which Trossard has started at centre-forward, Martinell has gone for five goals, two from Trossard’s assists. At a risk of slating Nketiah, Martinelli had gone the preceding five matches without a single goal. While that’s not Nketiah’s fault, it does highlight how much better Martinelli works when he plays alongside more of a false nine.
Let’s admit it: we were all underwhelmed and some of us bitterly disappointed when we “settled” for Trossard while our rivals went for sexier signings whom we had courted to varying degrees. In the long run, the likes of Mudryk and Gakpo will probably prove their current doubters wrong. Unlike Trossard, they’re both young, adjusting to a new squad and league, and feeling pressure to justify their fees. Trossard is experienced, Prem-proven, and feeling less pressure. Like the signing of Jorginho, we didn’t desperately need young, attacking players. We needed someone who could provide cover, depth, and competition while we waited for Jesus to return. The fact that we find ourselves still five points clear after Jesus missed 12 matches is a credit to Trossard (and to Nketiah before him).
We’re gathering strength and momentum. Trossard’s done more than hold down the fort. He’s raised the squad right as Jesus returns, allowing the Brazilian to come on late in a match we had already put to bed. It’s starting to feel like we could just get something out of this season…