There’s no day like derby day and no weekend like one in which you win the first match of the week against your bitter rivals. And because of that, it’s so hard to lockdown any real, significant worries. To make matters more difficult, Arsenal are playing so well at the moment, that the biggest worry is the fixture list and fears of a thin squad being held back by mitigating circumstances like injuries and fatigue.
But, in the glorious name of filling content needs, I have scraped the barrel for a minimal pair of worries.
Let’s start with the positives — Gabriel delivered Arsenal a REALLY clean 2nd half. It takes a team to win any match, much less a North London Derby, and he certainly contributed.
Normally, the sum of his performance, combined with the emphatic team result, would be enough to absolve any sins under the guise of “no harm, no foul. However, there are still some kinks to work out in his composure and consistency which has been a past worry, and therefore is a question that still remains in need of answering.
Maybe its just the juxtaposition from his defending partners that makes this concern stand out more clearly, but we have seen a few moments this season already where he looks erratic, disorganized, and uncomposed. Although not entirely his fault — it’s a hash job of clearing lines in the box — Gabriel’s tackle is definitely a penalty. Beyond that, there were just a few moments on the ball or in his positioning that were off, although not punished like his penalty concession.
As I said, no harm, no foul on the day but some concerns building. Over the international break Tomiyasu was fantastic at left center back when Japan technically dismantled the United States of America. Could he be a real option worth considering as significant competition?
WHAT!? How on earth has this ass found a way to bring Saliba’s name within miles of this list?
Fair, and I don’t know, but here we are. The kid has been outstanding beyond anyone’s dreams this season. Beyond anyone 5 years and 200 caps his senior, much less someone his age, which raises the most self-sabotaging fear of all time — is he becoming too good?
In just 8 short matches, he has already put together a collection of flawless or near-flawless matches that put him in the conversation for best central defender in at least the last decade. Maybe that’s too early to say but he’s playing so well that it would be idiotic to believe every major club in the world that is capable of it doesn’t have a blank check ready and waiting should Arsenal not be able to extend his stay. For that matter, there are some major clubs with major banks willing to entice him and ensure that he doesn’t extend his stay in North London. And while everyone had hoped his extension was simply not announced because he was going to claim the number 2 when Hector Bellerin completed his move away, that hasn’t yet come to fruition.
There’s nothing to say we simply don’t know about it, and certainly there have been some positive comments regarding the matter in the press, especially surrounding how Saliba feels about his experience so far, but until the name is on the dotted line and that sweet, sweet fire social video has been liked 165,000 times, fans may sit on pins and needles.
To see him walk out the door would be devastating. Maybe people would feel better when they wipe their tears on the £80+ million his sale would command, but he’s already become so well liked, it would be a huge blow. Not to mention, replacing such a dominant, young center backing talent would cost as much if not more. No, Arsenal have to find a way to lock him into a second long-term deal, even in the face of a well-earned, significant pay raise.
Checkout a few standout performers in Arsenal’s comprehensive win over Tottenham.