there’ll be an early press conference today, I’d imagine, before we make the trip northwards to Liverpool for tomorrow’s game. We do have some early team news from the manager, and the good part is there doesn’t seem to be anybody banjaxed by the midweek internationals.
There’s nothing sinister about van Persie only playing 45 minutes for Holland, according to Arsene:
It was planned by his manager because he knows we have a tough schedule. We are the only team in the world who plays Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday.
Which is very thoughtful of van Marwijk, especially considering we are the only team in the world who plays in midweek. Rather an odd thing to say there, but perhaps he’s referring to the number of Arsenal players going away with their countries this time around. He says Djourou could be back for Milan despite the player’s own website saying he’d be out for a month, and had some good things to say about Andre Santos:
He is doing good, he is not far as well – two weeks away from returning to the group. It is a bit ahead of time and he works with a fantastic attitude. He is unbelievably focused, motivated every day and he is a credit to himself. It is a joy to see how hard he works and sets himself targets. In two weeks we will assess how well he is doing in training.
Which is great to hear, the more fit and healthy bodies we have the better. Especially at the back and Arsene says that having full backs fit and available to play in their natural positions is a ‘boost’. No arguments here, having Sagna on the right really does make a difference and for all the jokes it would be great to see Kieran Gibbs stay injury free until the end of the season. Somewhat lost in the sheer joy of sticking 5 past Sp*rs was the fact that he played very, very well, especially in the second half, so hopefully he can stay fit enough to build on that.
If there is some bad news it’s The Coq will be limp for another 4 weeks. He must have torn the crap out of that hamstring, which is a real shame for him. The only thing that has me slightly worried is the lack of a mention for Tomas Rosicky. After Sunday Arsene said he was a doubt for the weekend but I’m hoping no news is good news in this case. He did miss the Czech game against Ireland during the week so there are doubts. We should get clarification when the boss meets the press this morning though.
Looking around the other news and Yossi Benayoun says he’s frustrated at not playing more often, which I can understand and which is a good complaint from a player (for the most part). Anyone who is content to just sit on the bench isn’t worth having in your squad anyway. All the same, Arsenal extending his loan seems unlikely and he seems to have a more realistic view of his future than many players would, saying:
My inclination at the moment is to sign for a mid-table team and play another two or three years.
It’s rare to see that kind of honesty from a player but at nearly 32 years of age I guess he’s looking to play football on a regular basis rather than be a bit part player at a bigger club. He’s never quite done enough to suggest that first team week in, week out, but at the same time I think he’s just the kind of player most squads need. Experienced, talented, someone who adds some depth to the bench, yet clearly he wants more from the final years of his career and nobody can blame him for that. Let’s hope he makes his mark between now and the end of the season for us.
Meanwhile, Dennis Bergkamp has been talking about Robin van Persie and his ‘re-invention’ as a striker. This was the part that stood out most for me though:
I got to know him a bit, obviously with us both being Dutch, so I tried to help him with a few things. You could really tell that he’s a good person, a good lad, and totally the opposite to the stories that were coming out of Holland at the time about him.
They said he was a difficult character, wouldn’t listen to experienced players and so on, but he was a great example of a player making the right move at the right time. He joined a settled team with a lot of big players, and from day one he respected those players and listened to them, and I think that helped him a lot.
Bar that Southampton sending off, and one against Stoke (I think) when frustration got the better of him, his character has never really been an issue during his Arsenal career. The manager has described him as a ‘football fanatic’, somebody obsessed with the game, and the way he has grown into the striker’s position and the captaincy has been fantastic. By all accounts he’s a very active skipper, fostering a real togetherness on and off the pitch, completely at odds with the ‘bad boy’ attitude he arrived with.
Maybe you could say he was typically Dutch. It’s not uncommon for their best players to have a bit of an edge. Ask Steve Lomas or Lee Bowyer about Dennis, for example, but for the most part he channels that aggression into his game and the results are pretty obvious. And he’s the kind of guy who will ensure that those youngsters coming into the squad now get the same treatment he did from the senior players when he first joined, the Circle of Life, if you will.
Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast, and I’m joined by two guests. To talk football and to laugh at Sp*rs, it’s Gunnerblog, while with me to discuss Arsenal’s finances, to clarify the FFP stuff and more, the unrivaled Swiss Ramble (if you haven’t read his latest piece on Arsenal, check it out here).
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And that’s about that. News from the presser and more throughout the day on Arseblog News, back early tomorrow here with a full preview of the Mugsmashers.