We won’t see Arsenal in action for a while. 17 days from now to be precise, when the Gunners wander to Molineux to take on Wolves. The time off couldn’t come soon enough for Mikel Arteta’s men — the club have started 2022 dreadfully. Arsenal have yet to win a match this year, have been bounced from both cup competitions, and have received more red cards than scored goals. Not great.
To be fair, the performance against Manchester City was quite good. Arsenal took the play to Pep Guardiola’s men for stretches and were undone by Gabriel Magalhaes’ two quick yellow cards in the second half. The Gunners also played well enough to win against Burnley. But you don’t get any points in the table for playing well. You get points for winning matches (and drawing them, but home draws against bottom teams aren’t good).
A large part of Arsenal’s struggles in 2022 comes from how thin the roster is due to injuries, COVID, and players away at AFCON. And the absences have a snowball effect. Players are forced into playing when it would be better for them to rest, whatever small knock they’re carrying gets worse, and they have to miss time.
17 days off and a training camp in Dubai will hopefully prove a panacea for the club. It will give players time to rest, recover from injuries, and return from AFCON. The time off will hopefully see Edu & Mikel bring in some reinforcements for the squad. A loan for holding midfielder Arthur Melo from Juventus seems on the cards.
A much more important question is whether Arsenal will be able to bring in a new striker. I grow less confident that Dusan Vlahovic will close the window in North London by the day. I was growing in confidence that they’d get the deal done earlier in the month, but there is some wonky stuff going on with him and his agent, and I’m genuinely unconvinced he wants to come to the Emirates. The list of alternatives is desperately short, too. I guess it’s time for me to start preparing for 11:59 pm January 31 to come and go without a new striker.