It would be fair to say, justifiably or otherwise that Gabriel’s form at left centre back for Arsenal, has been under the microscope of late. Personally, I see the criticism the Brazilian has received as unfair, but what it has highlighted is that unlike on the right of the defence there is no natural cover. Because of this, the player, unlike his partner Saliba, has not getting the midweek rest in the Europa matches (last night’s match aside).
We know that Arteta likes playing central defenders on their natural foot, which is important when playing out from the back and in tight situations. This fact has refocused many fans on what the longer-term strategy might be to provide cover for Gabriel. Recently Tomiyasu has shown he can play adeptly with either foot and he has operated on the left for Japan, but Arsenal do actually have a left footed centre back on the books, who is playing week in week out and earning rave reviews.
Rather than regurgitate second hand knowledge or claim to have watched Auston Trusty, our January signing from Colorado Rapids, I thought it best to catch up with a respected Birmingham City source, where our American defender is serving a season long loan.
Chris Skudder will be known to many as a Sky reporter, for whom he has covered 5 World Cups, but he is also a lifelong Birmingham City fan and a regular at St. Andrews. Who better to help bring interested Gooners up to speed on Trusty?
DS – Chris, thanks for taking the time to chat. Can I first ask about Birmingham City’s style this campaign under John Eustace, and particularly for a central defender, does it encourage playing out from the back? If so is Auston Trusty comfortable with that, which is essential under Arteta at Arsenal?
CS – If Arsenal were looking to progress Trusty last season, they’d have sent him to the wrong club. Under Lee Bowyer, and for years preceding that it wasn’t pretty at Blues. They always say “don’t ask players to do something they can’t”. Zola found that out to his cost. Try to play progressive stuff with limited ability. ‘No No!’. The good news for Arsenal and Trusty is that Eustace is shaping up to be a very decent coach. If playing out from the back is the long-term aim, he’s doing it step by step, not too much too soon. But already it’s starting to look different and far easier on the eye. Trusty has more technical ability than most Championship players. He’s working with a manager who rates him highly and will encourage something approaching the Arsenal way, albeit in less polished fashion, collectively. Nice combination, nonetheless. Arteta looks to have found the right place for him. Considerable game time, ever present this season and growing in confidence.
DS – From what I read, Trusty, has rapidly become a fan’s favourite at St. Andrews. Obviously 2 goals against Bristol City will only have increased his popularity. What aspects of his personality and play would you say you and fellow Blues have warmed to?
CS – Like many American sportsmen, great attitude, and knows he’s here to learn. Loving his time playing regular competitive football as the left side of a defensive three and it’s easy to see why he’s become a fans’ favourite. Everyone loves a trier. No coincidence his confidence is up, hearing chants of ‘USA! USA!’ from what can be an unforgiving crowd. The physical nature of The Championship also suits him. He has technical quality to go with imposing physical attributes at 6’3” and this combination seems to be setting him apart at this level. Has also played left wing back too during his time in MLS and it’s not difficult to see why. Can play, in short. The goals are a bonus. Physical presence in the box both times v Bristol City.
DS – His manager has called for Trusty to be included in the USA World Cup squad, based on current form. If this happens, he might find himself facing the likes of Bukayo Saka in Qatar. Is this call from Eustace justified, in short, in your view is Trusty ready to play international football?
CS – May lack the experience to be trusted (no pun intended) in Qatar. Mentally strong so doubt he’d let anyone down and desperately wants to be in the US squad. But the game time numbers, only 13 matches outside the US to date (and not huge numbers there either) could well work against him. Maybe a little too soon for international football, but not by much.
DS – Trusty himself is on record as saying, when a club of the stature of Arsenal come calling, to sign was a ‘No Brainer’. Many Arsenal fans, given that our ownership, KSE, who also own the Rapids, felt the signing was maybe some sort of business stunt, but perhaps views are now changing. So, here is the million-dollar question Chris, do you believe Trusty has what it takes to be a rotational player for Arsenal next season or perhaps more?
CS – Without a doubt has what it takes to be a rotational player next season. Cup competitions etc. Well-worn path with Arsenal. Especially with Arteta’s commitment to pushing young players through this season. Trusty already 24 but rapidly making a name for himself in the right environment. If he can carry on the way he’s going with a full season in The Championship and just maybe get on the plane to Qatar, he should be ready to step up for Arsenal in ‘23.
DS Thanks so much Chris for your insight on Auston Trusty and good luck to the Blues – Keep right on!
You can follow Chris @chris_skudder and he has a new book out very soon here.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.