plenty of Arsenal players in international action today. The official site has a list of what those players did and didn’t do at the weekend, you have to think the majority of them will be at it again tonight. I could go and check but frankly it’s just not interesting enough.
Like the rest of you I’m just hoping that the lads come through without injury so we’ve got as full a squad as possible for the weekend. That said, there are quite a few who have been at the club for the duration of the Interlull. Almunia, Denilson, Koscielny, Squillaci, Djourou and Traore‘s ghost have been playing 6-a-side against Wenger, Rice, Colbert, Primorac, Lewin and O’Driscoll.
The break will have allowed our newest player, Squillaci to settle in a bit. Speaking to ATVO Laurent Koscienly said of him:
He is a very good player. I never played against him in France but he has a very good reputation. Having Sebastian here will help us because he’s won things – he’ll be a very big plus for us.
He also talks about his partnership with Thomas Vermaelen, saying:
It’s very easy to play alongside him. There are always things we can improve on but that will come in time.
This stat from Koscielny in the French league last season is interesting. He didn’t lose one tackle for the whole year. Which is quite amazing, really. He says it’s something he works hard on in training because it makes it easier when you go on the pitch.
Out of curiosity I looked at his performances against Liverpool and Blackburn via the Guardian Chalkboards – he’s won every tackle on the deck. He’s been beaten a couple of times in the air but on the ground he’s at 100% (5 tackles v Blackburn, 1 v Liverpool). I know it’s early in the season but it augurs well. It’s how quickly he learns that will determine his success, I think.
You look at the Blackburn goal and that’s the sort of challenge where, if you’re not going to get the ball, you have to shoulder the player halfway into the crowd. It might well be a yellow card but physical strength, again something we hear him talk about trying to improve, coupled with the knowledge of when you have to take one for the team is vital in those situations.
It’ll be interesting to see how the manager deals with his centre-halves this season. As I mentioned previously I think he was forced to overplay Gallas and Vermaelen last time around and the impact that had on the end of our season was considerable. There was far too much Sylvester for our own good. Squillaci is definitely going to put pressure on Koscielny and I think we’ll see the older Frenchie in the more difficult games, at least to begin with.
Then you have to factor in Johan Djourou. It’s a big if, I know, but if he stays fit then there’s going to be real competition for the places at the heart of our defence. A pecking order will certainly emerge but quite what that is is anybody’s guess at the moment.
The Frenchosity of our defenders is a bit interesting too – as the Man from East Lower points out perhaps Almunia might need to learn a bit to help him out.
“Le keepers ball!”
“Allez out of l’area!”
“Oooops! J’ai droppé le balon!”
Some bonus linkage:
And finally for today, Yargh!
So that’s it, light yer candles, pray to your gods, witchdoctors, shaman and divine beings that we all arrive back safe, sound and ready to kick some arse this weekend. And we can get this Interlull behind us.