Morning All… or should I say Afternoon!
On January the 1st, the morning basically finishes at 6pm… It’s an action packed day of football and with the exception of Chelsea every one at the top will be playing – West Brom and United the early kick off, City host Blackpool, Liverpool host Bolton (yes, I know Liverpool aren’t near the top, but just imagine if they lose?), Sp*rs host Fulham and after all that we play Birmingham at their ground in what can only be considered a must win game.
I’ll get onto the team news straight away and come back later to talk about a few other things – Arsene is poised to reserve the 8 changes that he made for the Wigan game and field the team that beat Chelsea, which will mean the starting line up will be:
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Cesc – Nasri
With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Squillaci, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner, and Chamakh
No space on the bench for Denilson and of course injury absentee, Abou Diaby is also missing – there are many people who get on Diaby’s back and just a quick reminder that it’s not his fault he is injured again – if anything, people need to look why our players don’t feature in reserve games and are eased back into action likes other clubs. Going from “out for 3 months” to “straight back in the team” is obviously asking for trouble.
We can see that Arsene is taking special precaution with Van Persie and Djourou, with little game time, but why not grant Diaby a little “special attention”.
“Physically I have to be a little bit more protective with Van Persie and Djourou at the moment. They are just coming back [from injuries]. Djourou was out for nine months with a big question mark about his knee so I am naturally a bit more protective.”
Birmingham do try to play football but there will be a massive temptation to lob balls in Nicola Zigic’s direction – we all remember what he can do – he loves to score against us too! But with Djourou in the team, I think we have a player who can deal with him. It worked very well against Chelsea – the Djourou and Koscielny combination. It’s a shame that Vermaelen has basically been out for the season so far, because Djourou and Vermaelen would make an awesome combination.
There is a lot of news around Vermaelen, and a lot of twitter chat that he is indeed out for the season – but without official news from the club, we simply don’t know – for all we know, he could be back for the Carling Cup semi finals (along with Ramsey). However, amidst all these rumours, and they are become stronger, there is news that we are going in for Real Madrid’s outcasted defender – Garay – whom is an exceptional player on Championship Manager, so who knows, he could be an exceptional player for us! Arsene hinted something may happen if necessary:
“I haven’t ruled out signings. If I have an outstanding opportunity, maybe I will take it. I do not want to sit here and say we won’t, then people can come back and say ‘but you said you wouldn’t sign anyone’. There’s still a big chance we won’t sign anyone because it’s difficult to find better players than what we have, but if there’s an exceptional opportunity, you never know.”
Garay is a good player and he didn’t make the 25 for Real Madrid – the fee is touted at 10 million euros, so that’s about £7m – if Arsene could pull it off, I would suggest that that would be a good deal!
On a separate note to the game, I have to say that the football this Christmas and New Years has been awesome to watch, and yes, the league is calling out for a winter break, but at the same time, it really is a feast of football…
“It is the charm and craziness of English football. Personally I like it, I have been vaccinated after the years I have been here. It certainly contributes to the promotion of English football. The whole world stops and England goes on. That means when Arsenal play Chelsea, the world has no choice than to watch. They don’t work and are bored so they watch English football - which is not boring. Yes I would like a winter break but after Christmas. I would like to keep that tradition personally and create a break after January 2 for say for two weeks. We can go on holiday for one week and after we can prepare for one week. As it is, we play Man City then three days later we play Leeds and four days after that we play Ipswich. The players are under massive pressure so, when you play a 2-2 at Wigan, it is not the worst result. Mentally it is all very demanding but you have always a game in front of you and what is important is the next one.”
You wouldn’t want it any other way, would you?
Okay, here’s to some favourable results today followed by the 3 points (for us) up at St. Andrews….
Come on you Gunners!!!