Afternoon Fellow Gooners,
It’s match day live and time for us to knock Man City for 6… We need to exact revenge and we need to silence Adebayor… We wouldn’t mind solifying third in the mean time… none of this Sp*rs for 3rd place nonsense…! I write this just before the United vs Sp*rs game, so by the time you read it, it might be a little bit more interesting at the top…
Song is back and he’s in the squad, we’re not sure if Arsene will draft him in at centre back or midfield, but in the press conference yesterday, Arsene did say that he thought he wasn’t quite ready…
“He has not the reflexes at the moment. He has the capacity to play there but we have seen against Barcelona and once or twice that he has not the reflexes yet. He needs to practise two or three weeks in there to have all the knowledge of the game.”
There is another decision that Arsene has to make and that’s over the goalkeeping position – we all know that Almunia won’t play again this season, but will Fabiasnski or Mannone will get the nod. I’d love to see Mannone get the nod personally. Arsene did touch on the position saying – obviously, he’s not a goalkeeping coach but puts his faith in the goalkeeping coaches. One thing I know Arsene will do this summer is get in a quality keeper. Even at 40, Edwin Van Der Sar has proved that he can gain points for this team and the same cannot be said for either Almunia or Mannone.
For those of you who follow the youth, you’ll be aware of prospect Wojciech Szczesny, who is in fine form at Brentford and surely next season, both Mannone and Szczesny should be in and around the first team. I was impressed with Mannone’s cameo earlier this season. Back to Szczesny and Arsene has highlighted his potential:
“It is reasonable to have the ambition to be No 1 here next season. I believe he is doing extremely well. I believe one day he will be the No 1 at Arsenal certainly. But we will see next season. It is down to his performances. But you want as well some experience at our level. You cannot only go with young goalkeepers.”
Today sees the return of three players in Adebayor, Toure and Vieira. Arsene has called for all of us to respect all of them and yes, they have all had a good history at the club. Patrick Vieira, no doubt, will get a very warm reception, he’s a living legend, a great player – someone who had always given 100% when he played for us and someone who has always spoken well of the club. Arsene took time out to talk about the return of Vieira:
“I remember the fierce fighter he was and what remains in my memory when I arrived here is when we played at Wimbledon, who at the time were [a traditional] Wimbledon [team]. People tried to impress Patrick and they hit the wall. That was the most impressive thing. England 1996 was not England 2010, there were not many foreign players. When people saw him handling the physical game like he did and adding the quality he had and being afraid of nobody, that remains forever in your head. Straight away it was amazing how quickly he gained respect here.”
Kolo Toure is a player that I always did have a lot of respect for – at one point, I called him Mr Arsenal, as his passion for the game was outstanding. His passion for the team was always brilliant. He seemed to love Arsenal so much. When he went to City, I was upset at the decision, but having seen his form dip at City, it’s proved a wise decision. When Toure and Gallas were at the club, there was a rift between them, they didn’t speak and that’s not the way the a centre back partnership works. Although I don’t know the full history of the feud, Toure did touch on it pre-game:
“As a player I had great respect for him because he was older than me and, in Africa, when someone is older than you, you have to respect them. But I think sometimes he took advantage of that in some ways. It reached a point where me and Gallas didn’t talk to each other at all. Arsene Wenger understood my position and I have huge respect for him. He realised that the two of us couldn’t stay together. One of us had to go. You can’t play two central defenders who don’t communicate. I didn’t want to make trouble for Arsenal because they had given me my chance in English football and I really enjoyed most of my time there. I didn’t want to put the team in a difficult position, so I was the one who said, ‘I want to leave’. I was with Arsenal for six years, but the last two years there were difficult and I had problems with a few people. I was not feeling happy in the team and I was looking for a new challenge somewhere else. It was the right thing for me and Arsenal.”
You have to feel for Kolo – as even though technically, you’d feel Gallas is a better defender, you know deep down that Kolo is such a genuine guy – I know he’s defended Ade in respect to earlier this season, but he has to – he has to play with him!
So today has much more riding it than just the three points. It’s got the revenge factor – the third place vs second vs fourth enigma [please cross off the correct enigma based on the United / Sp*rs result earlier today]…
So over to team news, and you’ve got to feel Van Persie will start and noise is that so will Niklas Bendtner is a more conventional 4-4-2 and I would love it if that happened. So, line up for today could well be:
Sagna – Campbell – Song – Clichy
Walcott – Diaby – Eastmond – Nasri
Van Persie – Bendtner
But if Arsene reverts to a 4-5-1, we’ll then probably see:
Sagna – Campbell – Silvestre – Cichy
Walcott – Nasri – Song – Diaby – Bendtner
And that’s the most probable line up when you think about it.
Alrighty, I’m off to the game, so will be tweeting match side a bit later… til then, adios… and of course… Come on you Gooners……..!