Morning all. It’s still pretty quiet despite the fact that we play QPR tomorrow. That should all change when Arsene meets the press later on in his usual pre-game press conference.
As yet there’s no team news but I’m hoping no news is good news as far as that goes. The only player we have any real concern about is Laurent Koscielny who has spent the week having his knee knack looked at. Despite how late his withdrawal was on Saturday before the Villa game there were some concerns beforehand that he wouldn’t make it, so fingers crossed he’s ok.
And speaking of injuries, Mikel Arteta reckons they’ve been a large factor this season. In an interview with Sport magazine, he said:
For me, a key thing with our squad is the injuries.We’ve been hit with important, long-term injuries the whole season that really, really affect the team. I always said I would like to see this team playing with the same XI for 10-15 games – then we could talk about if we were good enough or not.
Now we’re starting to do it and we are starting to get really good results. So for me the biggest concern is to stop the injuries.
Which is a bit like seeking world peace, really. It sounds nice but it’s never going to happen. And that’s not to suggest anything other than that over a 50+ game season you are always going to have players who miss periods through injury. It’s inevitable. Granted, it doesn’t help when you’re faced with the unprecedented situation of having all four full backs out with pretty serious injuries, but you also need to have a squad that can cope with the bumps and bruises along the way.
Even with a couple of the long-term injuries we have I do feel like we have a squad better able to cope now. In midfield the return of Wilshere will be a big boost – whether it’s this season or next – and let’s not forget that The Coq thrust into everyone’s consciousness with some eye-catching displays, even if they were out of position.
Rosicky also vies with Ramsey in there, the full backs are solid now fit, at centre-half I like Mertesacker and think Djourou’s not anywhere near as bad as people suggest. He’s no full back, that’s for sure, but he had a good game against Villa on Saturday. Wide we’ve got options, The Ox keeping the pressure on both Walcott and Gervinho, while Miyaichi is doing well enough at Bolton to think he might have a place in the squad next season.
The only area we’re short is the one we’ve spoken about all season and that’s some cover for, or an alternative to, Robin van Persie. Even that looks as if it’s in hand as we send officials to Germany to give Podolski his seventeenth medical ahead of the imminent announcement of his capture. There’s no doubt we can improve the squad and make it better, but what Arteta says also has merit. A combination of better squad and fewer injuries would hardly do us any harm.
Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says it’s the C word that has done so much for the team. Not not being call- … what are you thinking? … no, it’s Confidence. The youngster says:
When the team or a player has got a lot of confidence, things come naturally and you do things without realizing
Maybe a player whose confidence has been knocked would not do those things. When you feel comfortable, everything runs smoothly and that’s the way we have been playing recently.
And it’s obvious that the team is far more confident than it was just a few short weeks ago. And saying that’s obvious is pretty obvious too. All the same, once they remember that the reason the confidence has returned is because they’ve worked hard to get these good results then there’s no problem. The worry might be that a touch of complacency might kick in, which could very well come back and bite us in the arse, but from everything the manager has been saying, everything the skipper has been saying, I don’t think that’s going to happen.
And finally, Andre Santos says he’s been blown away by the support he got from Gooners when out injured. He said:
In the stadium people would see me in the stands and ask me to come back, there was also many ‘Get Well Soon’ messages on my Twitter account.
All of that gave me the strength to carry on, and it all just contributes to my desire to work hard for this club and win titles in the red shirt.
He does seem a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of guy at the best of times, but it must be hard being out injured, especially when you’ve just worked your way into some kind of form and fitness, and knowing you’d be playing regularly because the competition for your place is also out. Gibbs has come back slightly ahead of Santos and performed admirably, which probably means our Brazilian friend is going to have to work even harder to win his place back, but that’s the nature of football.
Right then, on to this week’s Arsecast and joining me to discuss Villa, the turnaround in the season and the club’s apparent change in transfer policy is John Cross from The Mirror. There’s the usual waffle, a shocking news report and the winner of last week’s competition for a copy of So Paddy Got Up.
You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (23mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode235.mp3]
We’ll have press conference news and updates throughout the day on Arseblog News, back with a full QPR preview tomorrow.