The news that Tanguy Ndombele is likely to be unavailable for Sunday’s game in South London feels like a proper kick in the nuts. A perfect, well aimed, firm and truly struck, blow where it hurts.
Much of our pre-season optimism was built upon the fact that by spending big and early on the French central midfielder we had properly addressed the major weakness in the team in bold and emphatic fashion. The Winks/Sissoko stop gap was no more, that was it, with Lo Celso also brought in, that was the last we’d see of that particular little and large axis.
But no, here we are again.
Bad things come in droves
Ndombele’s absence isn’t our only current issue of course. At the back, Vertonghen is out of favour, Sanchez is out of sorts and KWP is still producing displays to be filed under promising rather accomplished.
In midfield, Sessegnon is still absent, Lo Celso is still finding his feet, Eriksen’s head is apparently God knows where and Lamela is playing every game in true random Lamela style.
Up front, Lucas is proving reactive and erratic, Son is just back from the naughty step and Dele is still missing.
It’s not good.
To Tinker Or Not To Tinker
So, what can Pochettino do to staunch the bleeding? What needs to change? Assuming that’s not a rhetorical question – the defence needs to become more solid, the midfield needs to transfer the ball to the front players quicker, the forwards need to press more and be more clinical. That’s ‘all’.
What about Dier or Skipp in to the middle with Winks and Sissoko to right back? How about starting with Vertonghen and Eriksen? How about Hugo, Rose, Toby, Vertonghen, Sissoko, Dier/Skipp, Winks, Eriksen, Lo Celso, Son and Kane?
We’re in a state that whatever team we put out feels like a gamble.
The Gooners are also feeling their way in to the new season. They’ve had two unconvincing wins and a loss at Anfield where they appeared to commit Hara-kiri if you go by the MOTD highlights. They have speed, of that there is no doubt and Ceballos’s reputation is already such that that you wonder why Real Madrid were willing to lose him for a year. £20m had something to do with it I suppose.
Making no bones about it, our league form since the turn of the year has been abysmal. We should view any point we may get from this game as a good and precious one. It’ll boost everyone’s morale and get Poch through the international break in one piece. How likely a point is though is another thing. The bookies have the home team favourite at 13/10 (I’m surprised they’re not shorter) and us at 15/8 which shows where they think the spoils will lay at the end of Sunday.
As usual, we need big games from all our big players especially, Hugo, Son and the two Harrys.
Martin Atkinson is the referee.
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