Reading 2 – 5 Arsenal: We’re back…

From a very low low to a very high high in the space of a week… today we were awesome. It was great to see – the old Arsenal were back in full force, and we looked the part. Our play was quick, dynamic and creative and the line up was spot on. It was great to see players playing with confidence and playing well together…

It was Theo Walcott’s first game up front, and it seemed to work well, with the England International very lively – pulling the ready defence apart at every opportunity… the line up was:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Mertersacker – Vemaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Wilshere

Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski

Walcott

Walcott’s movement was a problem for the Reading defence and there was a good level of interaction between the front four. It was eventually Podolski who opened the scoring with a good finish from close range when he controlled a cross and tucked it in with a great left footed finish…

It was then Cazorla’s time to steal the limelight – with Walcott as a foil, Cazorla was afforded more space and the Spaniard took full advantage, making it 2-0 from a header, 3-0 from a swivel and shot and his third and Arsenal’s fourth from a great overload on the hour mark. Reading got one back and then two, but Theo scored our fifth with an acute left footed strike after some good build up from that man, Cazorla.

It was a great game and a great team performance, and the manager was delighted.

The target was to win and we won in a convincing way. You can only give one answer – on the pitch. Success came with the quality of our game. We played and didn’t bother about the rest. We focused on the quality of our game and played. I think it was in continuity of the game we played gainst West Brom. That’s what we did again tonight.

We’re up to fifth now and it’s important we concentrate on getting better and better and better each game. We can’t rest on our laurels and think we’ve done anything good yet – this was just one game – we need to ensure we can push on and beat Wigan on Saturday. The club is on a knife edge, the fans are on a knife edge too and right now, we have no room to go wrong.

Short blog today, more analysis tomorrow…

Crossroads

Morning Gooners,

A Saturday afternoon blog from yours truly as Dev is away for the weekend. The good thing is that Arsenal do not play until Monday so we can enjoy a weekend without having to go through the recent match day trials and tribulations. However the bad thing is Arsenal don’t play until Monday, so after what has been an extremely trying week, we need to wait until Monday to ‘move on’.

Dev has covered and reviewed the Bradford game so I won’t recover that old cold ground but I will say one thing, it has become the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Eleven internationals ended that game against a league 2 team. We had players that have captained their countries on the pitch but no one could inspire or lead the team to a routine victory that needed just little bit of graft. For me, this summarises the current problem from the board through to the players on the pitch.

I’ve purposely avoided the paper’s this week because the press have enjoyed jumping on the ‘sinking ship’ bandwagon that is currently Arsenal FC. The press have gone out of their way to get interviews and sound bites from those ready to criticise the team, the sacked Stewart Robson, now rich former board member Nina Bracewell and gobby Ian Wright just to name three.

Nina Bracewell Smith:

“If making money was the motivating factor, surely there are better ways?”

“”[Kroenke] shows he cares very little. Why he wanted to be part of AFC I do not know””

“Football is a business of passion. SK (Kroenke) has no passion for AFC.”

Didn’t Lady Nina sell her shares to Kroenke for a healthy lump sum? Odd to then critise him for looking to generate cash when you forget your own stake and passion at Arsenal.

Stewart Robson, who is a bitter ex-Arsenal player who was sacked by the club for his analytical work on .com, couldn’t wait to have his say:

“No structure, no disciple, they’re petulant”- factors which Robson blames on Wenger, as “[the players] take their lead from their manager”.

“ Wenger doesn’t coach [the players] and doesn’t allow anybody else to coach.”

“Arsene Wenger has put too many players on such big money that they won’t be able to get rid of the players they don’t want.”

 

Ian Wright, who always ready have his say to get his name in the paper:

 ”I wouldn’t say ‘surely he has to go’, but it is a unique position he’s in because I think any manager in any country in any world with a record like this and no prospects of light at the end of the tunnel, they would’ve been gone.

“People are holding onto the fact to what Arsene has done, and people are saying he is going to tarnish what he has done, but I don’t think that will ever happen.

“I feel there are a lot of deluded Arsenal fans who are out in the wilderness still saying ‘in Arsene we trust’ and stuff like that.”

There is a saying that I think fits in well here;

‘When the grass is cut, the snakes will show’

However, Martin Keown bucked the trend of former’s at the club and offered his support to the manager and called for patience.

“Now is not the time to judge this team, and it would be unfair to pin all of the blame on this current squad. There is this feeling that the defeat to Bradford leaves them at this crossroads, but I don’t subscribe to that.

“They should be given the chance to prove they have the ingredients to overcome their current difficulties.

“This is a new team, let’s see how they can cope. Wenger is hugely loyal to his players. He will stick by them through thick and thin.

“But trust me, you will only get so long under Wenger. Once that belief gets switched to another player then it is very difficult to regain it.”

Over the course of this week many of you would have had friends and colleagues very keen to talk about the state of the club and what happens next. Some will have been telling you Wenger’s going to get the sack, with a big smile on their face. Wenger is one of the biggest names in the history of the premier league, sadistic fans would see it their benefit to watch one of the elite managers get the chop. Others have said ‘it’s time to spend now’ as if that’s will be the solution to all our issues. I can’t totally agree.

I completely agree that this squad needs some fresh faces to boost morale and also fresh legs to allow effective rotation, there’s more to the current issues than splashing the cash will fix.

The club through the board, the manager and the players need to create a single direction, a single message that the fans fully buy into and back. The board are on one hand telling the high paying fans that ‘Arsenal are not only about winning’ and how healthy our bank balance is but then we see the manager skimping and buying budget players who aren’t good enough for the club. The result is that that players give limp and uninspiring performances due to poor personnel and fans vent their frustration.

A united message can go a long way to rememdy the frustrated feeling in the club. For example at Everton, a club I have a lot of respect for, have a message from life long bluenose Kenwright that money is tight so any buys will be funded from sales, the manager then goes out and picks up shrewd signings (like Jelavic, how good is he!) and the fans fully commit to getting behind the team regardless of if they are fighting relegation or Europe. The difference in the mentality of the players at Everton is that they fight with their every being to ensure they attempt to with the game for the club, manager and fans. A united message and the fight for a common goal.

Arsenal can sign players that are needed but if the board and manager do not have a unified message about their direction, then the problems will continue and the frustrated voices will just become louder.

Enjoy your weekend, bring on Monday.

~ Tottz

Feel free to follow my ramblings on twitter @Tottz82

 

Bradford 1 – 1 Arsenal, Bradford win 4-3 on penalties…

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that I thought we’d play a weakish team, but tonight’s game saw one of the strongest line-up’s in the history of the Capital One Cup. We played Bradford – a league two side – and the eleven players chosen were:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Metersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Coquelin – Wilshere

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Wenger rested only Arteta, but made the same mistakes as he’s done before – the same mistakes that saw us lose against the likes of Norwich and others…

  • Don’t play Ramsey on the right
  • Don’t play Gervinho up front
  • Don’t play so many central midfielders (Ramsey, Cazorla, Wilshere, Coquelin) in the same team
  • Don’t play Podolski out wide

It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, but if you play round pegs in square holes, then you’re going to have a problem. By playing reserve squads in the past, it was a fail safe mechanism. If we lost, it was because we played a reserve side. If we won, it was great because we rested our main players and our reserves / kids got a run out.

However, today we played our best team and lost (albeit on penalties) to Bradford.

Examine anything you wish, but this is unforgivable. I don’t think any other team in the top ten in the Premier League would have lost to Bradford if they played their top side.

I’m not going to start battering the team or the manager, but this season is a massive turning season. I’ve heard more anti-Wenger than ever before and people who were pro-Wenger are now doubting him. With the exception of Jack Wilshere, I don’t think any fan really “loves” any player…

The stats were eventually amazingly in our favour, but with players playing in different positions and all sorts inability to play, it doesn’t really matter. Normally I’m not one for talking about players, but this group is the worst under Wenger and we has to seriously figure out who will fight for the cause and who will won’t.

The answer is to buy. We won’t get anywhere with this group. I don’t know how we got to this stage and the problem is, I don’t think Arsene does either.

According to Arsene, credit to Braford…

“We had many, many chances, their keeper had a great game and we could not convert out chances,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “When you go out it is never good enough. We lost on penalties against a team who defended well. We have to give credit to Bradford. I cannot fault the effort of the team, they gave everything for 120 minutes.”

Ouch, right?

Til tomorrow…

Bradford v Arsenal… The Preview

We travel to Bradford tomorrow for a game that we could win and should go out to win… and if we do win it, we’ll be in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup… maybe, just maybe, we could win something? No? Too much for us to handle… okay, never mind… just send out the kids then!

Arsene has Thomas Eisfeld in the squad for tonight’s match and he’ll be joined with a fullish squad. Which is great news, as it looks like we’re taking the game seriously… well, as seriously as we can with resting our main players. Arsene spoke about the team available and said:

“The only new player who is not available is Olivier Giroud. He got a kick on his back on Saturday. He has not recovered and he will be out. We will have an experience squad at Bradford. We have a good recovery time ahead of the game at Reading on Monday. So we can use the players we want to use. Theo is still out. Along with Diaby, Santos, Koscielny. Vito Mannonis back in the squad. Nico Yennaris has a back problem and Ignasi Miguel has a thigh problem.”

Based on manager’s verdict, I think we’ll be looking at the following line up:

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Meade

Coquelin – Ramsey

Gervinho – Rosicky – Arshavin

Chamakh

Not a bad line up and it will see the likes of Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, Sagna, Oxlade, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud etc all rested ahead of the important league game with Reading next Monday. The likes of Mertersacker and Vermaelen will have to play as far as I can see Miquel, Djourou and Koscielny are all injured and Squillaci is, well, Squillaci. Eisfield is in the squad and although I don’t think he’ll start, I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the bench…

“I heard they beat Wigan in the last round, so it should be hard if they’ve beaten a Premier League team. In Germany we say that cup games have their own rules, because anyone can beat anyone. At the moment, I’m very happy. I don’t know what the coaches think. Of course I hope I get the chance to play in the game, it would make me really pleased.”

We’ll see what we have in store for us tonight, but a win would go a long way to getting some confidence back into the squad.

The Weekend

The weekend has finished, the games have been played. We’re now only 2 points behind Sp*rs, 5 points behind Chelsea and the battle for fourth is truly on…

Man United are a whopping 15 points ahead of us, and in all reality, no title this season… but the season isn’t over – we can still salvage fourth or possibly third if we go on a run, and we are still in three other competitions, which perhaps we need to start focusing on.

The game with West Brom was a little controversial as we were awarded a penalty that looked like it shouldn’t have been awarded. I’m not going to dwell on that right now, but the victory was much needed. It didn’t matter how it happened, it was needed. We will need to now build on this win and add some consistency to our game and our results. In actual fact, we played better than I thought, we passed the ball around well and we really got in and around them.

Le Boss spoke today and said:

“I am very pleased because the team has shown a resolute attitude, determination, togetherness and quality in our game going forward and we defended well. It is good to see your team when their backs are to the wall. You can see that the players turned up, like Arteta – who missed a penalty [against Fulham] – he took two penalties today, so that is very positive. You could see that they had decided to win the game and nobody else could do it, that is what pleased me the most. The only decision I have certainly made is to leave Sagna out because he played with a bad ankle [against West Brom]. We will put a team out with experienced players who have quality and who have a chance to win the game.”

Reading away, next Monday, then Wigan away, games we should win follow that, I really hope we can start putting a run of games together very soon…

Arsenal vs WBA: A Very Small Preview!

Just a quick blog to say Happy December! It’s not been the best November and December so far, but I really think it’ll change today and we’ll win for the first time since I can remember.

There is lot of noise about Walcott and Sagna and their contracts and both are out injured today. With the return of Rosicky, we could see a slightly different line up today, or let’s hope we do, I’d prefer Gervinho on the bench today and Giroud in the starting line up…

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Wilshere

Oxlade – Rosicky – Cazorla

Giroud

With Podolski out with a strain or hamstring injury (depending on what you read)…. the above line up has a decent balance of aggression and skill. Gervinho, Arshavin and Chamakh on the bench if things go terribly wrong.

I’ll be back after the game with a bigger blog and hopefully I’ll be talking about our great win and excellent performance…!

Forward?

Morning Gooners

 

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to blog due a holiday, work and illness. However, during that time the dark clouds have once again gathered over Arsenal FC. The worst thing about writing that sentence is the need to insert the word ‘again’ in to it. The fact is the dark clouds have never been far away over the last 3 seasons.

 

Last season the club made the decision to use the word ‘forward’ to create a motto for the 125th anniversary of our club. In some ways they were right, historically Arsenal have always been an innovative and forward thinking club. In the 1930′s Herbert Chapman pioneered the use of numbers on shirts, flood light games, revolutionary tactics and the naming of ‘Arsenal’ station.

 

Arsene Wenger has changed the mentality of the modern footballer through nutritional knowledge, a clubs use of their scouting networks, his footballing beliefs, creating success without spending millions and finally successfully moving Arsenal into a bigger and more lucrative stadium without suffering the same fate as other clubs who have move to new stadiums. (See Coventry, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Sunderland and others).

That was 2006, in 2012 is this club still moving ‘forward’???

Financially, most definitely. There isn’t another club in the Premier League or Europe in a better financial position that us. You can look at all the Forbes rich lists you want but the likes of United and Barca have debt levels they can not sustain. When we secured the cash to fund the move to the Emirates stadium, we locked into some pretty awful commercial deals as we needed money upfront to finance the big move. Fast forward to 2014 and many of these deals are now coming to an end. Emirates have already acted but committing £150million across 5 years to the club and from what I’ve read, I expect Adidas to complete a circa £25million per season a deal to be Arsenal’s new kit manufacturers from 2014. (Bringing us in line with Man United.)

If the financial fair play league is implemented with any vigour by UEFA or the Premier League, Arsenal will be in a very strong position indeed. However, if UEFA struggle to implant FFP, Arsenal will have ‘wasted’ years of direction and dedication to a policy that was never implemented. A massive risk.

What about where it matters, on the football pitch?

Well unfortunately, the ‘forward’ motto can not truly be applied. Since 2006, Arsenal have gradually moved ‘backwards’. Arsenal have always sold players who were close but past their prime; Vieira, Henry, Wiltord, Sol and more. However since 2006 we have unwillingly be ‘forced’ to sell players reaching their prime as their ambitions have outweighed our potential. The likes of Nasri, Cashley,Clichy, Cesc and recently RVP have all been tarnished with the brush of greedy footballers but deep down we all know they left chasing success along with a higher wage. Everyone of the players mentioned above have gone on to win trophies while Arsenal watch on with nothing.

Not everyone can win something every season but those that have ambitions will compete right? Unfortunately Arsenal are no longer truly competing for the top English and European honours. We are a tough challenge for teams at the top of the league but they do not fear us like they once did.

Our standards have horrendously slipped, from watching talents like Anelka, Vieira and RVP burst on the scene and create a devastating impact on the league, we now watch Gervinho, Ramsey and Walcott struggle to create any sort of impression on the first team let alone the league.

On Saturday 1st December 2012, Arsenal lost 2-0 at home toSwanseaCity.Swansea restricted Arsenal to 44% possession and simply outfootballed Wenger’s Arsenal in their own backyard. Saturday was a humbling with a large slice of humiliating served up on the side. When Arsenal previously dropped points through missed chances, I always said ‘as long as we keep create chances we’ll be fine’. Unfortunately we create little to nothing these days, see games against Villa,Norwich,Swansea and more for recent examples. We lack players willing to fight of the cause and the only one who I truly believe hurts like fans do, made the mistake that led to the second Swansea goal; Jenkinson.

I really could go on but something has to give soon. If the players are ‘jaded’ and ‘tired’ well we need a bigger squad, it’s only bloody December! We need to sign personnel in January.

If players don’t want to fight for the cause, move them on and bring in players that do.

Finally, if the manager is struggling to attract the players that could make a difference, motivate the squad to win simple games and tactically set us up to win games; then maybe we really are watching the end of Wenger’s reign.

Personally, I hope it doesn’t end like this.

~ Tottz

 

Feel free to follow me on twitter @Tottz82

Blog Suspended Until Players Can Be Bothered…

This blog is officially suspended until our players, manager and club can actually be bothered. *

£7m per year for Arsene, £2m for Gazidis and about £3-4m per player per year. And we get this rubbish? The entire wage budget of the Swansea team was the same as Vermaelen, Cazorla and Arsene. And they showed up and kicked our arses in more than one way.

* The blog is not actually suspended, but I’ll wait a day or two until I calm myself down…

Arsenal vs Swansea – The must win game…

The start of each blog this winter has been….

After a disappointing [loss / draw], we find ourselves… and today is the same… we find ourselves on the upper echelons of mid-table but a whopping 12 points behind the leaders. At this stage of the season, that’s a massive gap. We know United, Chelsea and City will drop points, but the problem is that so will we and we’re actually dropping many more…

We’ve heard a bunch of excuses this season… depleted squads, international breaks, suspensions, tiredness, tough trips, many games… in reality, fair enough to those excuses, but at the end of the day, every club has the same issues, and they seem to deal with them. Tomorrow we play Swansea. A team who are playing well, and have some talented players. It’s up to us to start winning games and we have to play out of our skin to get the three points.

Ahead of the game, we understand that Sagna has picked up a knock and Koscielny’s out until the New Year. As a result, the team will have another back four (how many this season?)… the team could be:

Szcznesy

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Wilshere

Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

With a bench of Mannone, Coquelin, Djourou, Ramsey, Oxlade, Gervinho, Arshavin

Walcott is the one player who seems to make a massive difference to the team at the moment. When he plays he bring a threat and we’d be foolish to let him go to another club on a free next year. We’d be foolish to lose him at all even at a cost… he is starting to remind me of a young Thierry Henry. He will be very good in the next 3 years, that’s for sure.

Theo is a Gooner and I can’t see him anywhere else, he seems to be enjoying his game at the moment too:

“Those are the sort of positions [at Everton] that this season and in the last few seasons I have been quite deadly in,” he said. “When given a little sniff I am able to take it now. The goals [I have scored] show that. I think I scored 11 last season and 13 the year before. Not just that, but my general play [is getting better] as well. The assists are coming now, which is fantastic, and I am enjoying my football. I am very happy with the way I have started and it has got to continue. Hopefully I will take it into Saturday’s game.”

We’ve seen a lot of very good players leave recently, and I hope the manager and the player give us a Christmas gift by announcing his stay, but for the moment, let’s see if he can add to his goal tally tomorrow…

Til then…

Everton v Arsenal: El Preview

After the disappointing draw to Aston Villa on the weekend, today we’re in the Merseyside at Goodison Park to take on high flying Everton. We need to win this game, without a shadow of a doubt, to ensure we gain some ground… for the moment, just don’t look at the table, it’s too worrying…

We have Rosicky back in training, although not match fit, he will help the team when he’s back. It will be good to be able to rest Cazorla once in a while, that’s for sure. The injury news ahead of tonight’s game is Diaby (thigh), Santos (abdominal), Rosicky (match fitness), Fabianski (ankle).

Therefore, I think it makes a lot of sense that the line up we’ll see tonight will be:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

With Walcott recovering / recovered, and Oxlade hugely unimpressive in the last game, Gervinho will most likely get the nod on the right of midfield. It will be good to see him start on the wing for a game. Although a lot of people think he’s a headless chicken, I prefer him on the wing than up front, that’s for sure.

The bench could be: Mannone, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Coquelin, Walcott, Oxlade and Arshavin.

Arsene was full of praise for David Moyes and predicted that they will be up there in contention with us for the coveted fourth spot…

At the beginning of the season, they were winning game after game and I still believe they will be one of the contenders for fourth. However, at the same time, the season is long. Everton have already shown that they can beat teams like Man United at home but they drew against Norwich over the weekend as well. So it’s very difficult to predict but I do feel they will be one of the contenders.

Today is surely a battle for 4th (not the war, just the battle)…

Yes we need to be fighting for a high league position, but realistically, we’re way off that at the moment, so it comes down to the game in front of us. We need to win tonight, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter about the league, it matters about today’s game. Simple as.

Til tomorrow, come on you reds!

Aston Villa 0 – 0 Arsenal: Stalemate…

Normality resumed yesterday with an evenly matched game against Aston Villa. The problem I have is that we were evenly matched. We shouldn’t be evenly matched, we should be superior… we shouldn’t be drawing against the 17th placed team in the league, and failing to score.

With Wilshere, Sagna and Vermaelen on the bench, we lacked a level of urgency in our game in the first half. Was the fact that we rested three key players a sign to the rest of the squad that this could be an easy game? I don’t know, but questions have been seriously asked after the event…

We expected a difficult game because we played a very tense game last Saturday against Tottenham. We had a Champions League game on Wednesday night and we knew [that] when you play away from home after the Champions League, it’s a difficult game. You have to say Aston Villa did fight very hard. They had some chances as well. We controlled them quite well. I think we had room to win the game but we lacked a little bit of accuracy in our final ball today. I cannot fault my team for the spirit we have shown for 90 minutes. We lacked a little bit [of] sharpness in the final third.

There were a lot of questions to why Arsene didn’t bring on Jack. On the Arsenal web site there are a few normal quotes about why he was rested and didn’t come on. Apparently he was tired and Arsene didn’t want to risk him. Although when he asked by journalists, he didn’t react quite the right way, suggesting that perhaps he was aware that he didn’t quite get it right… why else would he react the way he did?

“What is the thinking behind the substitution? I will not explain every decision I make. I have managed for 30 years at the top level and I have to convince you [journalists] I can manage the team? I don’t want to comment on that. I do my job and do my best for the club. Why should I create a rift? I have given you the answer. I leave it to you to judge. I try to be as good as I can be. You are all great managers! I read the newspapers every day and I can tell you that you are always great managers! You judge the game for the papers and I sit here and explain to you our game. How many games have you managed? I promise you if you manage one I will sit in the stands and chant ‘you know what you are doing!’ You can discuss every substitution. You think what you want. I do my job and I let people judge it. I do that every day and I do my best every day. I know why I do it.”

The way he reacted showed too many signs of weakness. He needed to keep his calm but he failed to do so. It’s a shame, but it’s a sign of the pressure he’s under and the mistakes he is making, week in and week out. There has been a lot of talk about Arsene and where his state of mind is. Rants like this don’t help.

We weren’t quite there against Villa and with Ramsey in a deeper midfield lying position, we always look vulnerable. Arteta works well with Diaby, Coquelin or Jack, but not Ramsey and it’s strange that we can all see that but Arsene cannot.

It was a bore draw weekend for some others too as Benitez’s Chelsea drew 0-0 with Man City and Swansea held Liverpool to a 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Games every 3 days seems to be catching up with a few of us, except the likes of Sp*rs and Man United who both won 3-1.

Personally, I thought we had more of a chance to beating Aston Villa than we did of high-flying Everton, and by resting some players and drawing against Villa, it seems like a missed chance. The same Villa that United beat a couple of weeks ago at Villa Park and the same Villa who lost 5-0 at Man City last week.

It’s a little embarrassing explaining the results and explaining the team selections and substitutions. I believe in Arsene, but it would be nice for him to get it right now and again…

Til tomorrow…

Preview: Villa vs The Arsenal…. As Emirates Deal Is Announced

Arsenal announced today that we’ve signed a mega £150m deal for the sponsorship of our shirts for the next five years. That works out at £30m per season, which dwarfs the previous deal that came in at £12.5m. It’s something that Gazidis and Wenger have been talking about and something that they believe would happen, so it’s good to see one of the first negotiations take place.

Good work for the commercial team, and let’s hope it’s one of many to come. If we can keep on doing this and start making positive bank statements without selling players, we may be able to actually buy / spend more than we take in every year… And that could and possibly should start with Theo Walcott. I don’t know how much he is after, but I doubt it’s mega-bucks. I’ve heard it’s close and potentially if they’re not too far apart, we can sort this out now…

Talking about Theo, he’s still out injured, and possibly likely to be injured for Wednesday too – the gaffer summarizing the injury situation:

Santos is out for 10 days with an abdominal strain. Oxlade-Chamberlain looks alright. Theo [Walcott] is out for Saturday, but has a chance for Wednesday at Everton.

However, the boss did talk in depth about Rosicky and the injuries he’s had… and how happy he is to potentially have him back in the squad:

He should be back with us on Monday. He started in team training on Monday. Last year from January to the end of the season he was one of the most influential players in our squad. I hope he can repeat that because until now we haven’t seen him and he was injured at the European Championship. He has a similar injury to Scott Parker, they had operations at the same time and they will come back basically at the same time. It is very difficult [mentally] for him, because Tomas is a guy who loves to play, who is happy on a football pitch. When you have been injured as many times as he has been, it is not easy to take.

It will be good to have Rosicky back, he is a good player, and an intelligent one. He can create opportunities that others can’t and can move forward with aggression and positivity that helps us win games. Simple as, we need numbers, and Rosicky can add to a midfield that’s lost Song and Diaby and is really stretching the likes of Arteta and Cazorla, as they’ve had no rest at all!

Based on Arsene’s team news, the potential line up at Villa Park may well be:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Wilshere

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

I think Gervinho will start as Oxlade has a little niggle and I think the boss will keep him on the bench for the moment, I also think Gibbs will be on the bench and be introduced as a substitute if we’re doing okay, rather than going into the first team, considering the 4 players and goalkeeper named above look to be on top of their game…

It’s a vitally important game for us, with Chelsea playing Man City and a potential banana skin for United at QPR (who Harry may be managing come Sunday)… 3 points this weekend could be a very good and important 3 points… especially with a tricky tie at Everton mid-week.

Come on you Gooners!