Happy Saturdays Fellow Gooners,
It’s a Saturday without an Arsenal fixture, and one where we can sit back, relax and support the teams from the Midlands, in Aston Villa and Birmingham who take on United & City respectively. As I write this, I am hearing that Villa are starting with a midfield centre duo of Hogg & Bannan… exactly… a little bit stretched are Villa… In other games, Sp*rs entertain Blackburn at home, whilst a cracker of a game late on is Stoke vs Liverpool.
But for us, tomorrow is the BIG day, and we go to Goodison Park, which has for now, become a fortress for Everton, but our last visit there was a 6-1 thumping at the beginning of last season. Tomorrow’s game, however will be a completely different kettle of fish.
Injury news ahead of the game sees our two worryingly long term absentees in Diaby and Vermaelen both out – neither with recovery dates. Arsene talked about the Vermaelen injury yesterday and gave us quite a worrying update.
“I don’t know his next stage – he has seen specialist after specialist and the scans are OK. We have to be patient. We know a lot medically nowadays but there are some mysteries that we do not know about. At the moment we have no rational explanation for his pain. That means there is no reason to have surgery and there is no logical explanation for his pain. We have to be patient and just hope it will go. That means rest at the moment.”
It’s strange that we simply don’t know about the injury, as Arsene says, it’s a mystery! The form of the other three centre backs has been good, and in a way, it’s been masked by the solidness of the likes of Squillaci and company. But you feel that the experience and leadership that Tommy V have is second to none. So with those injuries know, with Koscielny suspended and Gibbs most likely on the bench… and of course the fitness of Ramsey not up to scratch, I think Arsene will play the following team:
Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Denilson, Walcott, Rosicky, Chamakh, Van Persie
Yes, I’ve chosen Bendtner ahead of Chamakh – simply because Chamakh can’t play so many games in a row, it’s just not possible… and of course, RvP is simply not fit and can’t start yet. With Rosicky having a great game against Wolves, with his never die attitude, he would normally be the choice, but at his age and with his injury record, playing him two games in a row is always a risk.
Arsene took time out to speak about Chamakh contribution and talked about the possibility of Chamakh hitting 20 goals for the season:
“I hope [he does it]. He is a guy who gets others involved, creates chances and who is collective in the final third. Even if he doesn’t get 20 goals I’m sure the players around him will score because of him. I am pleased because I expected a team player, someone who fights for the team, and I have not been disappointed by his commitment and contribution. If you look at the number of times he was decisive then if you are not happy you must be very difficult to please. I’m extremely satisfied with the fact I signed him. Chamakh has never been a great goalscorer but, the way we play, all the strikers score here. We always go forward and you will be in the box at some stage so you will get chances.”
It’s amazing to actually have Chamakh, Bendtner and Van Persie available in some aspect, with varying fitnesses, and don’t forget we have Carlos Vela around – although, I am worried about what is happening with him. Every time he plays, he seems to have a great game, but then he disappears for a long period of time.
There has been a lot of news regarding the future of Niklas Bendtner – apparently he has complained that he hasn’t got a starting berth recently – whether or not his quotes have been misquoted, I don’t know yet, but in the papers, he’s quoted as saying that he is ready to leave Arsenal if he doesn’t play.
Arsene spoke about the reports:
“I communicate every day with him and he never told me that. I don’t know. Have you ever seen a player who is on the bench and not frustrated? He works hard, he has been out for a long time. I must say I have been very pleased with his attitude and spirit. He has to continue to work and when he is completely match fit he will play. I must say his attitude has been extremely committed and I can understand [his frustration] because he has put a lot of effort in. Now he has to be a little bit patient. When you try to convince a player that he has to be patient, then you waste your time. That’s what you’ve got to do, but you ask a player if he is fit after two training sessions and he says ‘yes’. That’s it, that’s normal. I was the same.”
After all the games today, Capello will be announcing the England squad and there is an expectation that both Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere will be called up and the latter may start the game against France. In addition, there is a lot of backing for Andy Carroll, including our manager, who is expected to be named too.
That’s that for now… looking forward to another 6-1 win tomorrow!