Honestly, watching Aaron Ramsdale in the flesh was something special. I still can’t get over how a lad from Sheffield can do those magical things with the ball. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say he’s one of the best keepers with the ball at his feet in the Premier League right now… I don’t think we’re far off being able to call him a world-class talent.
He has it all. He’s an elite teammate, he has great energy with the crowd, his athleticism is exceptional, his concentration has been really good so far… and his ability on the ball is surpassed only by Ederson or Allison.
He’s gone from looking like a very expensive ‘we have to do it for homegrown rule’ to ‘wow, this is a bargain.’
The Sheffield United fans called it. We should have taken their word. I am very grateful to have a keeper like him at Arsenal at 23.
Captain news dripped out into the Arsenal ecosystem, Auba agreed a deal with Arsenal to pick up his sick mum in France. He was supposed to be back on Wednesday. He was not. He arrived on Thursday and with the new (extremely annoying) covid rules in place, he couldn’t train with the club.
I empathise with Auba. Dealing with family issues is tough working in any industry. But if you strike a deal, you have to stick to it. Clearly, Arsenal had that deadline in place so he could be tested and he could train/play.
Did Arteta have to share the details? I mean. No. He could have sat on it. But if he’d sat on it, news would have leaked anyway, and fans would have asked why he wasn’t honest with them. I have no idea why some of the Auba stories leak and others don’t. There was a similar covid infraction last season that didn’t get too much coverage.
Is this disciplinary action consistent? I’m not sure. Willian did something similar last year to go and see a famous chef in Dubai. Did he get dropped from the squad? No. Did he start the next game? Yes. What’s the difference here? We don’t know. Non-negotiables have to be consistently applied. If the fans can find holes, then the players can.
The overarching irritation here is that we shouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Auba is 32. If you say you’ll be back on Wednesday, come back on Wednesday. Or call ahead and explain what is going on so it’s not a drama.
Reality is, right now, football isn’t the most important thing for Auba. His mother is. Literally, nothing else in the world needs his attention more, and that’s how it should be. Work is a triviality. When that’s the case, maybe stepping out of the most extreme of limelights is a good thing for him. Take 3 weeks off. Have a fun Christmas with the family. Get those minutes in, because no amount of money can ever buy back time with loved ones. Arsenal is not important.
Long-term though, we have to be honest, he’s not going to be captain for plenty of reasons outside of this incident. He’s not going to be here in 18 months, so planning has to begin on who is next.
Visibly, seems a very interesting choice. He might have been here a short amount of time, but no one can doubt what he’s done. The crowd love him, he holds teammates accountable, and he’s performing to incredibly high levels game after game.
But… he is a keeper. Not known for being great captain material. He’s also only been here 4 months.
He seems to be loved by the squad. He’s really taken ownership of the back 4 this year. He’s dominant on the pitch, he commands the space like Paddy, Adams or Sol Campbell. I don’t think there are many better CBs of his age anywhere. I also love that he’s not a difference-maker in the opposition box.
But… his English isn’t the best.
Probably in most fans top 3 for the job. Committed, aggressive, never gives up, seems to love the club. When he gets his fitness back and a striker to aim at with those crosses, he’ll be one of the best left-backs in the league.
But… he does get injured quite often. We’ve had good captain material before, but it hasn’t worked out due to injury. Per Mertesacker has sat on the bench as a captain and Thomas Vermaelen did as well.
A Grover called me out on the latest podcast for NOT including him in the running for captaincy. I know the club were very impressed with his leadership skills during his loan stint. He’s measured, very intelligent, probably the only players in our side that hustles refs… and he’s the captain of a Norway side that has Haaland in it.
But… he’s been in and out of the side and has lacked consistency.
A very important midfielder for Arsenal. At his best, he’s unplayable. He is an all-action kind of player, he’s a prestige name, and he’s done it at the very highest levels of European football.
But… he’s been very drossy this season. Can we risk giving the armband to another player that isn’t performing at the right level?
The curveball is Granit Xhaka, but I think Arteta might be aware that a move like that would be a bad look for him.
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