Three Burning Questions For Arsenal As their Premier League Season Restarts
You better check your Fantasy Football lineups and those score prediction games you are part of, the Premier League and Arsenal are back for the festive time of the year and the restart of the 2022-2023 season.
It’s been more than 6 weeks since we last saw Arsenal play a competitive, meaningful match. In it’s absence, we’ve been treated to an unexpected treat in the World Cup (the games not the locale.) Arsenal had its fair share of players represent their nation in one form or another. But that’s all done with and now we can get back to what really matters, Arsenal being top of the table with a 5-point lead on chasing City.
There are lots of questions surrounding Arsenal and the restart but we wanted to focused on the three that seem the most pressing, at least to us here at YouAreMyArsenal.
Can Arsenal Get Back In to the Groove
If you’ve ever watched a fledgling pilot fly, especially military pilots in jets, you will witness a lot of what is termed – Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO.) If you were to draw PIO it would like a wavelength with increasing peaks and valleys. For the pilot to reduce PIO, they have to slightly adjust and get back into the groove.
It’s the same for a football team. During any season, a team will experience a multitude of ups and downs. How they manage those ups and downs and quickly get back into their groove. Look at the disruption caused by a winter world cup as one tremendous valley that every team must overcome, but more so, our Arsenal as they must quickly reestablish their credentials as title chasers.
Why? Well for a few reasons. For pure vanity reasons, it would be nice to continue to silence any critics who believe Arsenal’s form pre-world cup was a fluke. Additionally, a failure to find their form again would likely result in a slide down the top 4 that this young side may still not be ready to handle (We’ve yet to see them respond to proper difficulties.)
The road to getting another title was always difficult. The form pre-world cup was a rather welcome surprise to the unknown of how this new season would play out. Most Arsenal fans appear pragmatic in our title chances, but the reality is, it could happen. But for it to happen a lot has to go right and Arsenal finding their mojo again, is an important part of that.
What Impact Will the World Cup Have on Returning Stars
As mentioned earlier, Arsenal had its fair share of players at the World Cup. Some played substantial minutes, some played a few and some played none. But in each case the World Cup could likely have an impact.
Take William Saliba. The French defender saw a few minutes in one appearance as a sub in the World Cup. Hardly wear and tear on his body. The fear here isn’t so much the impact on his body but his own consistency from playing so regularly. This is a long time for someone who was playing every week to not play. Sure he trained, but its not the same to an extent.
On the opposite end is Bukayo Saka who was an integral member of England’s national team set up. He featured in every match and saw significant minutes. He ended up being named to L’Eqiupe’s team of the tournament. He likely will return with only a week’s rest.
Saka has always been a worry for soft-tissue or other significant muscle injuries due to the sheer amount of minutes he plays for Arsenal and for the National Team. He seldomly has days off.
The biggest fear for someone like Saka is the impact of fatigue on his body. Fatigue not only has the visual impact we see in game – like lethargy but it can make the body more susceptible to injury.
Saka may be one of the most influential players of his generation at least in England. Even when he’s not scoring his influence on the game is significant. Any possibility he could injure himself, especially with as congested as the final 2/3 of the season will be has to be considered. Losing him for a large period of the season would have a negative impact on Arsenal’s over all return for the season.
The same can be said for all the other players who featured at any level for the country. Yes, it’s the same for any team who had players at the world cup. Those teams aren’t Arsenal and aren’t sitting at the top of the table at this point.
Can Arsenal cope without Gabriel Jesus
The signing of Gabriel Jesus was a brilliant move by Arsenal. His impact on the team goes well beyond just the ability to score goals. His movement off the ball creates space and opportunities for others, his aggressive press helps Arsenal win the ball up high and force chances higher up the pitch.
His knee injury is going to have an impact on Arsenal. To deny that is unrealistic. How much is still unknown. Eddie Nketiah will get his opportunity to show that he has the mettle to compete at this level. Early news reports before the restart of the season suggest he has been putting in the extra sessions to get himself ready to lead the line.
No offense to Nketiah but he isn’t Gabriel Jesus. He is a different player with a different set of attributes. Gabriel Jesus offers a dynamism that makes Arsenal hum.
The hope is that the team doesn’t get away from its core principles of play and tweaks itself to play to Eddie’s strengths and in turn Eddie shines make the absence of Gabriel Jesus less painful.
However, Arsenal are going to need another striker regardless of how Eddie does. Jesus’ time on the sideline is reportedly going to be till around February. That’s a lot of time for one player to cover without a rest. Even though Eddie didn’t play a part in the World Cup, with FA Cups, Europa League and more importantly League play on the schedule, that’s a lot of games in a little time with only one bona fide striker.
Yes, not getting back into their groove and fatigue of world cup players will have an impact, but how Arsenal handle the loss of Gabriel Jesus over a long period of time will likely be the biggest determinant on where Arsenal finish the season.