Goals, defending + Arsecast 218

Morning all,

let’s start with early team news ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Wigan and nobody who played on Tuesday is added to the sicklist, but Tomas Rosicky remains out with a thigh knack while Abou Diaby will miss 10 days with ‘a slight muscular problem’.

Obviously I don’t think anybody is surprised by that but Diaby now seems to be caught in an infinite loop of injury. His absences mean he’s prone to little aches and strains when he does return, which lead to absences, which lead to aches and strains, which lead to absences, and so on. You would wonder if the supposed interest in a player like Götze is because the manager realises that Diaby is unlikely to ever reach a level of fitness which will allow him to play games on a consistent basis.

The big guns will come back into play for tomorrow and the manager has again challenged, in his way, other players to score goals to take some of the pressure off Robin van Persie. If you can call it pressure. I’m sure he’s not sitting around at home thinking ‘Oh man, I’m scoring goals all the time. This is awful’. In fact, I’d say he sits around at home thinking about whatever he wants because his goals have made him the most carefree man in all the kingdom. Anyway, I’m off the point. Arsene says:

At the moment I can’t deny that [we rely on him for goals] but I believe that the likes of Gervinho, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott can score goals and I believe they will.

They can score goals, I am am completely confident of that. And they will score. At the moment Robin is always on the end of things. I think he will continue but I also think it will change that the other players will score goals as well.

He might have added Thomas Vermaelen to that list, in fairness, the Belgian’s determination to make up for his mistake against Fulham and his willingness to get forward in general makes him a threat. And while the players in the forward positions obviously have more of a spotlight on them it’d be fair to say that both Arteta and Song are capable when they get into the right positions.

This morning’s tittle-tattle links us with a Brazilian striker called Leandro Damiao. I reckon somebody should make an advent calendar of players we’re linked with during the month of December, I bet there’d be more than enough players to fill it. Who we might buy to take up the striking slack, and whether or not we’ll buy them will, I suspect, become the running theme of December, permeating through the Arsenal supporting world.

Little Gooner children will climb onto the laps of various Santas in deparment stores all over the world and when asked ‘So what do you want for Christmas, my little friend?’ will reply, ‘A forward who can link our midfield and attack as well as providing more of a goal threat than the knock-off Moroccan and South Korean we’ve got at the moment.’

Nautrally they’ll be disappointed when, on Christmas morning, they open their packages to find an Etch-a-Sketch and the latest ColecoVision video game system, but if said player makes his way to N5 in January they’ll probably manage to cope. Let’s wait and see without it becoming too much of a thing. If it isn’t already.

Further to discussion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the defensive side of his game, Arsene has touched on that in his pre-game interview with Arsenal Player. He says:

Defending is not his preferred side but unfortunately at the top level today you have Messi doing it, Rooney, Ronaldo, Van Persie – so why should he not do it? To add that to his game will make him stronger because he will win some balls in areas where he can be dangerous. He’s a player who has an impact.

No arguments here, nor with this:

If you look at the whole picture when you think him, Frimpong, Coquelin, Ramsey and Wilshere just in midfield – we have absolutely exceptional talent and it’s very important that we continue to develop them very well.

Now it’s down to how much trust he has in them and is he prepared to use them in more important games. The boss bigs up Frimpong, calling him a ‘fighter’ (heh), and you have to say that these guys certainly gave the manager something to think about with their displays against Man City. This wasn’t a Carling Cup game against lower league opposition which allowed them to shine, this was against the richest club in the world playing against quality, experience internationals.

The trip to Greece next week will be another chance for them. I think he’ll play a fairly similar kind of side to the one that played against City and for these players a game against an Olympiacos side who have still got a chance to qualify will make it a hugely competitive test. And to play away with the atmosphere we know their fans will create will only add to the occasion.

Johan Djourou talks to the Mirror.

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast, and joining me to discuss the week that was is Goonerholic. We hear from Internet Joe and the Man in the Bar and there’s your chance to win a scarf from my good friends at Savile Rogue.

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Right, Arsene’s presser is early this morning, updates and what have you, throughout the day on Arseblog News. Back tomorrow here with a full preview of the Wigan game.