Okay, back to all things Arsenal... and our professor himself has been in the news once again giving an assessment of the season so far. A bit early to do so, but part of this is to re-assure fans of the title challenge and part of it is to discuss further the two players in the spotlight. Ade for his booing and Nasri for his man of the match performance against West Brom.
Arsene has been quietly building a squad of players around a good back bone of a team. I was watching Arsenal TV last night and watched a re-run of the Fulham vs Arsenal game of 2006 where Ade was up front with Henry. He was pretty poor at the beginning of the game, but managed to score a decent goal and be a threat up front. Diaby played in the middle of the park along side Gilberto and was pretty good and Senderos played at the back alongside Toure and Eboue with Clichy on the left. We looked pretty good to be honest and these are the players, two years on who are now pressing for first team places rather than squad members.
It was quite refreshing to see Diaby in full flow, winning tackles and moving forward. He's got a presence about him that would be great to have back in the team. Question marks have always been about his fitness and injuries though.
So Arsene has this squad now, full of players such as Djourou who played one of his best games for the club against West Brom with other players such as Bendtner, Vela, Eboue, Ramsey, Denilson etc all ready for a bit of first team action. Yes, I'm not a fan of Eboue, but his display against West Brom in an unfamilar role has got a lot of the fans talking about him in a positive light.
This is what Arsene had to say after the game:
“Not only do we make results but we develop players as well. At the start of the season it’s always very difficult to assess how good [players like] Denilson and Johan Djourou will be. They can only develop if they play.
“It’s a tricky situation. People want to see big names and they want to see good young players as well.”
“I believe that, when everyone is sharp, we will have much more invention. “But you always want a player like Fabregas to be in there because he gives you the quality of the pass. He should be fit for the second Champions League game.”
Djourou, Denilson and Eboue had decent games, but of course it was Nasri who stole the headlights with a decent performance, a goal and a vision about what is to come this season. One defining moment for me was when he was passed a ball on the left wing and had three defenders around him. He kept calm, kept the ball, didn’t get flustered and managed to pass on and continue running. This move for me showed he was a class player. Do the best you can and have the desire to want to play.
A bit of Nasri…
“There have been not that many problems for me to adapt to playing in England,” said the French international. When I first met the boss he said that maybe I would need a bit of time, maybe up to six months. But actually I felt really good straight away. I have a personal programme with the physio to get stronger, because everyone has told me English football is different, with more contact. It is just to be stronger and to be able to cope with the 50-50s and the intensity of English football. I am working hard in training and felt really good out on the pitch.”
“I could not dream of a better start, to score in my first game after four minutes. Now I will have to continue week in and week out, and hopefully I can keep playing like this. That will be brilliant. I did not feel nervous. Every time I go on the pitch, I always want to take a lot of pleasure from the game. I do not put pressure on myself. Before the game, the manager told me everything would be fine, and with the football we play at Arsenal, we would be OK.
“I just wanted to enjoy myself, and that is what I did.”
Winning hearts young Nasri, winning hearts.
And talking about people winning hearts or not. Adebayor, who was booed during a subdued performance against West Brom, has now signed a long term contract.
The contract is said to be worth £60,000 per week (slightly that the demand of £80k but doubling the boys money. Last season he won the “Premier League Goal of the Season 2007/08″ and was named in the PFA team of the year.
Arsene is keen for the booing to stop (albeit it happened once) and for us to get behind the striker. I wonder what would have happened if Ade had scored a few on Saturday rather than being a little off form? Would the jeers been cheers? I was at the game and there was really a lot of hatred for the Togan, more a willingness for him to do well. As the game went on, his first touch got worse and the frustration from the fans got worse.
Arsene spoke on Ade:
“We have to get behind him and support him because he is a tremendous force and (is of) tremendous importance for the team – you want your own fans to be behind him.
“What happened in the transfer period did not always reflect his deep desire and there was manipulation from agents on both sides, but overall I am positive he will recover.”
Okay, I’ve rambled on enough today. I’ll leave you with a few youngsters who are leaving the club on loan deals. We’ll see what they’re made out of in the forthcoming season and see how they fair when they’re back at the club next. Nacir Bazarite is off to Derby for the season, he our highly rated Dutch forward. Harvard Nordtveit and Pedro Bothelo are both going to ply their trade at Spanish “feeder” club Salamanca and Kieran Gibbs may well be spending the season at Reading after they approached us for the kid. Good luck to all of the boys, come back next year and stake a place in the team!
And finally, congratulations to Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou who’ve joined up with their countries for the friendlies tomorrow. Good luck, don’t get injured.