Wigan vs Arsenal
A trip to the JJB stadium has always been a good venue for us. We beat them 3-2 in their first season back in the premiership and 1-0 last season with a Cesc inspired last minute Adebayor effort.
It’s going to be an exciting trip, a game we have to win. If we do, we will be 4 points clear as United feature in the FA Cup today against Portsmouth. Wigan are currently 14th in the table, but only 2 points clear of the relegation zone. It is a very tight relegation battle with Reading currently in 18th on 25 points, Bolton 17th on 26 points, Birmingham, 16th on 26 points and Sunderland 15th on 27 points too. Wigan under Steve Bruce are a different side and have won 2 of their last 4 games.
One player that Arsene knows well is the Hondurian international Wilson Palacios who had a trial with Arsenal last summer before signing for Bruce’s Birmingham and then Bruce’s Wigan. I’ve kept an eye on this player and he’s a good all-rounder and a good addition to the Wigan squad…
We’ve got injury problems (the story of our season) and we will be without Theo Walcott, who suffered a thigh strain against Colorado Rapids in a friendly on Thursday. Denilson also suffered from a recurrence of his hamstring injury. Abou Diaby is out after picking up a calf strain against Milan, but should be back in training next week. Kolo Toure and Alex Song will also both miss out after failing to recover from calf strains and a knee injury respectively. Finally, Rosicky is out for another 2 weeks and of course Eduardo misses out with his long term injury. The Cannon talks about our injuries further and the impact of the Rapids match.
Djourou and Van Persie both return to the squad having missed quite a few games between them. Van Persie lasted an hour against Rapids on Thursday and Djourou has been passed fit.
The squad for Sunday looks like:
Goalkeepers: Almunia, Lehmann
Defenders: Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichy, Djourou, Hoyte
Midfielders: Hleb, Flamini, Fabregas, Gilberto
Strikers: Adebayor, Bendtner, Van Persie
We’ll surely revert to a 4-4-2 game today, simply because of the players we have available. We will start with a team as close to the Milan game as possible. At the back we will see the same 5 as Tuesday, but in midfield, we have both Walcott and Diaby out through injury and Eboue serves the final game of his suspension. I expect Fabregas to move to the right hand side for Walcott / Eboue and Gilberto to come in alongside Flamini.
Let’s take a look at the starting line up for tomorrow:
Bendtner will be re-united with Adebayor up front with Van Persie on the bench. I’m sure we’re all glad to see VP back and also quite happy that he is coming back slowly, after his recent injury nightmare.
Gunners Live looks at the game and a quick run through the Wigan starting XI.
I’m off to Nice (en France) tomorrow for a two day break and will be desperately be in search of a pub to watch the Arsenal and an Internet cafe to write up my blog… if for any reason I don’t have access, here’s for a 4-0 win up north!
News Round Up (There’s a lot today!)
Bentley and Arsene exchange words
Young David Bentley now under the Mark Hughes wing school of annoying statements has urged Theo Walcott to leave Arsenal if he wants to prosper. Now, let’s take a look at this. Some Arsenal fans will be pleased that Bentley is having a good season. We all knew he had quality but his impatience and ego problem meant it was only a matter of time til he left Arsenal. He is a good player and is now an England international, but he’s not Arsenal class and it’s a shame that his bitterness comes out like this. If Bentley had an ounce of awareness, it would be clear to see that Theo is rated very highly by Arsene, has over 30 appearances in all competitions and has played in big games last season and this. It is very much in constrast to Bentley who obviously wasn’t in the same league at his age. Remember Theo is only 18.
“Sometimes you need football, you need games to become better, to put your skills out on the football pitch. If he is not getting the minutes at Arsenal, he’s going to have to look elsewhere. Your career doesn’t start and end at Arsenal. It can flourish somewhere else. At the end of the day you want to make a career for yourself.”
There is no reason whatsoever that Bentley should speak about our player like this, I’m not a fan, although Arsene handles it better than I could possibly:
“Bentley is entitled to his opinion but it does not mean he is right. I don’t know why one player should incite another player to leave a club. It is not his job.”
Arsene goes on to talk about Theo’s contribution and that players should prosper by regular competition instead of a guaranteed fist place (hint, hint young David!):
“When you are in one of the biggest clubs in the world you have to accept competition. If you accept it, it makes you better, if you move down you are down, not at the top. I believe Theo can establish himself here. He is 18 and at that age to play in one of the biggest clubs in the world in a regular position is very difficult. When he comes on he makes a big impact, he’s not there completely yet when he starts a game.”
A Cultured Left foot agrees and talks about the idiocy of Bentley’s comments.
Ade praises Arsene
Ade moved to praise Arsene for his amazing ability to spot talent and the faith he shows in players. When Ade joined a lot of fans, including myself thought it was a bad signing but Arsene had faith in his abilities and now Ade is an integral part of our team and has scored 23 goals this season.
“To pay him back is going to be very difficult.At Monaco, from June to December I scored only one goal in 19 games. How come Arsene Wenger came and looked for me? It is something special. He is the one who gave me a chance to become who I am today. I want to keep on enjoying myself and listening to him.”
Here’s an interesting article from Gunners Live linking Ade with Milan.
Liam Brady becomes Ireland assistant manager
Liam Brady was announced as Giovanni Trapattoni’s assistant manager. Although Arsene wouldn’t have been the happiest person about this, I’m sure he didn’t want to lose him and acknowledges the aspects it will be to Brady with international exposure.
“The board of directors and Arsene Wenger are quite happy for me to do this and to keep my job at Arsenal. Trapattoni needs to get to know the players and I can help him with that.”
It is debatable whether this new role will have an impact, but if it does, I’m sure Arsene will review.
We were [this close] to signing Robinho
Reports emerged yesterday that we were close to signing Robinho last season. We were in a tug of war for the player’s services the year before and in close contact with Madrid and his agent during the summer too. The player has been the inspiration behind Real Madrid’s good form and rise to the top of the liga. What an addition Robinho would have been to our squad this season. He’s a player in Arsene’s profile. He agent Ribeiro revealed:
“Last Summer I spoke to Pedrag Mijatovic and I told him that Robinho was not happy because Capello always kept him on the bench and he was not playing him. I told him that Robinho had an offer from Arsenal and that if he continued on the bench then he would move to London, but Mijatovic told me that my client would be the best in the world and that he would not be leaving.”
Maldini admits Arsenal deserved it
In a discussion starting by his team mate Kaka, Maldini admitted that it hurt him to be knocked out of the Champions League but also admitted that we completely deserved to knock them out. Maldini also said he will continue next year as he turns 40 and continue to play for Milan.
“We must accept this defeat. Analyzing the two games, we can see they were better than us. We created too few chances to bring home the qualification. I’m very sorry, it hurts, but we have to accept it.”
Blatter airs his opinions
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has commented on Eduardo’s horrific injury and calls for a crackdown on violent challenges int he league. He talks about the zero tolerance approach he would like to see adopted. It’s a dangerous avenue to go down as a lot of players do tackle without the intention of harming the opposition player and it could lead to a non-physical game which would ruin the game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bit absurd that Matt Taylor gets a shorter ban than Jeremie Aliaidiere for a worse challenge. Blatter said:
“Dangerous tackling is one of the most important issues in football at the moment. Players who do this kind of thing intentionally should be banned from the game. Attacking somebody is criminal, whether it happens on a football pitch or elsewhere. It is a crime and should be treated as such.”
He also speaks about the national quota he wants to introduce next season in stage one. And also outlined plans for increasing this quota. There is a legal impact on how this could work as there is a freedom of trade act would be compromised. More on this later, but here’s what he had to say:
“Look at Arsenal – almost all the players are from outside England. There is no place for the young English players coming through because the clubs simply take players from the wider market. This is damaging to the identity and integrity of football. The EU has not said it is impossible. The exemption for sport has already been established in the treaty. It has been said now that there is specificity of sport and its structures.”
Round Up of The Round Up
Here’s a round up of other news circulating at the moment. Young Guns reveals that we’re interested inHavant and Waterlooville’s young 12-year old striker Ryan Gates who has scored an incredible 95 goals in only 40 appearances this season. He also explores how Jay Simpson could be on his way out of Arsenal at the end of the season despite his match of the match performanceagainst Swansea.. I do like Jay and he is one of our young English players, and I’m sure Arsene wouldn’t let go of him unless he thought he ultimately wouldn’t be able to make it at Arsenal. The Arsenal Academy looks at under 16 player Jeffrey Monakana as his progress in the academy.
Grimandi talks about Arsene’s signing policyand how we follow only the cream of Europe’s best players. He talks about how we follow players from 16 and 17 years onwards and continual monitor their progress. One 17 year we are currently looking to recruit is under 18 French international Pjanic. North London pride report on the possible signing of 17 year old French midfielder.
That’s a wrap!
That’s all for today, let’s see if Chelsea and United can be held to draws in the FA Cup to knacker them out a mid more this season and here’s to four points clear tomorrow!]]>