Afternoon folks, and there is a lot going on in the wonderful World of Arsenal… I’m going to rattle through all the latest happenings and then end on a Villa preview (a proper preview will come tomorrow though!)…
Nasri and Bendtner
To all of our astonishments, both Samir Nasri and Niklas Bendtner are in the squad for tomorrow’s game against Villa. Now, that is strange considering two weeks ago, we heard Nasri and Ramsey were out for 6 weeks, but then as a complete surprise Ramsey was named in the squad and then the bench for the game against Stoke on Sunday and also saw some game time!
Bendtner was supposed to be back in February, so again, it’s another surprise to see him named in the squad for tomorrow – doesn’t he need some games in the reserves to get his fitness back?
Arsene said this:
“The list of injuries is going down a bit. We have Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner back in full training, so that is quite good news for us. Abou Diaby is injured, but Bacary Sagna is back.”
Very interesting, as these players coming back will add a whole load of strength in depth to the squad! I love the selection dilemma, I don’t think we’ve had it all week!
The player of our season is back, well, he will be back very soon! Arsene had this to say:
“The earliest he could come back is tomorrow. They have to fly back from Angola to Cameroon and then back to London. I believe the earliest they will fly back is today, but we expect him tomorrow or Thursday. [As for Sunday] we will see how he comes back. But I must say he looked tired in the game yesterday.”
I think we’d do everything we could to have him play on Sunday. A rest from now until Sunday is 5 days and that should see him ready! To be able to play Song in front of Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen and Clichy is a dream come true!
So, it has emerged that the sources that said we had bid for the defender were indeed correct and that our initial bid was rejected. News is that Man United have gazumped us with a £7m bid. And Arsene has confirmed that in today’s press conference:
“It just looks like Manchester United offered more money than us. As long as the player has not signed anywhere it is not the end of it. Let’s see what happens there. We will not come out on what we are doing exactly but as you [reporters] say it has come out on television but that doesn’t mean it is true. So let’s see. If we have anything more to tell you we will let you know.”
With Sol only a short term option, Silvestre looking very weak and Senderos looking to leave very soon – we do need a new centre back soon and it’s clear that Arsene thinks Smalling is that player. We still don’t know if Gallas will be here next season although Arsene is confident that he will.
If we did sign Smalling and Djourou was available, we’ve have four centre backs – Gallas, Vermaelen, Smalling, Djourou and of course the youth and Song as backup. Not bad…
Manchester United have won the race to sign highly-rated central defender Chris Smalling from Fulham. Okay, now that's just silly... we shouldn't have let that happen if we really wanted him... more to be heard from Arsene on this tomorrow I suppose!]
Philippe as joined Everton on loan… and it’s good for us that he’s getting some game time – either he will change our minds and we’ll play him again next season or he will sign permanently? Senderos sounds delighted with the move – and of course, why wouldn’t he?
“I am delighted to be an Everton player for the remainder of the season. I can’t wait to get stuck in and play for Everton. Hopefully I can get some first team football in during my time here. I am here with high hopes and hopefully I can fulfil them. I have spoken to David Moyes and he hopes to give me opportunities here. Hopefully I can grab that opportunity and stay in the team. Everton’s form over the last few weeks has been better and they are getting stronger.”
It’s a weird spiral of out of favourness that has engulfed Senderos and I think it’s more personal / political than the quality of his game. He ousted Sol Campbell from the side and at one point had almost blind faith from Arsene – but maybe he didn’t become the player that Arsene thought we would become and as a result, was sent on loan.
I think Arsene thought he’d be bought by Milan or Everton at the beginning of the season and when that didn’t materialise, Arsene had a problem. The funny thing is that Sol is now back in the team and it looks like he has ousted Senderos out of the club!
A statement that I thought Arsene wouldn’t say is that Jack Wilshere is going on loan. And it’s because he was so highly rated that Arsene didn’t want him to go on loan because he thought he’d break into the first team.
However, now it looks like Monsieur Jack is off on loan!
“We have interest from Premier League teams. “It will be decided today or tomorrow. Burnley is an opportunity. At the end of the day, Wilshere will have his word to say, because he needs to decide where he likes to go.”
It is rumoured that the interested teams are Bolton, Burnley and West Ham, with the former promising first team football and the latter one of Jack’s favourite teams. It’s true to say that the player hasn’t really flourished at all this season and it’s no wonder Arsene’s happy for him to go on loan!
Aston Villa Preview
So, moving onto tomorrow’s fixture, we should see our normal back five restored to the team. Early thoughts suggest that the team line up will be:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Denilson – Eastmond
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
With a bench of Fabianski, Silvestre, Traore, Ramsey, Nasr, Vela and Bendtner.
I’m sure we’ll hear further news of the squad by tomorrow, but it looks like a reasonable bet, with Eboue and Song being back for the game on Sunday.
A proper Villa preview tomorrow, but for the moment, I’ll leave you with that!