Morning all, welcome to the end of another week which has just flown by. Of course you could have had an interminably long week in which case I sympathise, but the end is nigh and Beer O’Clock beckons.
Early team news ahead of tomorrow’s game against Stoke sees Tomas Rosicky recover from illness to take his place in the midfield. Folk were rightly confused by his removal against Chelsea on Saturday because he didn’t play like he’d been ill, but it’s an illustration of how substitutions may not make much sense on the face of it but when we consider the manager has just that little bit more info than us it’s a lot more reasonable than it first appeared.
I had thought that Abou Diaby might start the game tomorrow. In fact, I said as much in now un-editable Arsecast. Which is why Diaby won’t start tomorrow. The bastard. He too has had an illness this week and could be a bit short, according to Arsene. The reason I thought Diaby might start tomorrow was because a) he’s a big chap and big chaps are always welcome against Stoke’s long-throw/ball/hoof tactics, and because Aaron Ramsey had a miserable time on his return there last year.
To be fair to Ramsey, he was hardly alone. Our display that day was as dismal as it got last season, but going back to the ground where Shawcross snapped his leg in two and the Stoke fans jeered him as he was being carried off on a stretcher seemed to overawe him a bit. That said, there’d be no better place for him to rediscover some form tomorrow.
There are updates on Mertesacker (undergoing his rehab at the club and should be fine for the Euros) and Walcott (might just make the West Brom). Beyond that the only news is that Yossi Benayoun returns to the squad having been ineligible for Chelsea and without wanting to curse his involvement he could well come back into the side. With Walcott out the manager has to decide whether Gervinho or Oxlade-Chamberlain fills in on the right which means there’s space on the left for the Israeli to slot into. However, we can look ahead more closely to that game tomorrow and perhaps Arsene’s press conference later will give us some hints about what he’s going to do.
Meanwhile, Arsene has addressed the issue of the players currently out on loan who will ‘return’ to the club this summer. He says:
At the moment we have 34 players. I believe that many clubs are in this situation. The Premier League have put themselves into this situation where they completely lock the transfer market.
When the players come back from their loans, many clubs will be in the same situation where they cannot buy because they have too many players.
So, I guess the solution is sell them abroad where such restrictions don’t apply. I have to say I’ve never quite understood the 25 man squad rule. Even if it is supposed to encourage clubs to use players from their youth systems/academies, I’m not sure it’s really that effective. And it’s most definitely restrictive when it comes to the transfer market.
That said, when you look at the players who could go this summer there should be plenty of space in the Arsenal squad for replacements. Off the top of my head we could say goodbye to Squillaci, Almunia, Park, Chamakh, Fabianski, Mannone, Benayoun, Bendtner, Vela, Denilson – and that doesn’t even consider more high profile potential departures which we won’t consider for now.
Some of them are leaving because their contracts are up, while some have to leave because they contribute nothing to the squad – and as Arsene points out, we can only have 25 players in that squad so it’s absolutely crucial we maximise the usefulness of it. It means a busy summer for our adminstrators/transfer negotiators, because as well as having to re-home all these unwanted pets, we’ve got to find new players to improve the team as well. But that’s their job and I’m sure they’d rather be busy than twiddling their thumbs all summer until a last gasp flurry of activity.
In other news, I love this from Tomas Rosicky. He talks about the fact he’s 31 but not really:
You know, my normal age is 31 but in football years I’m 29 – I lost two years because of injury so let’s just talk about my football age.
I like that. Due to spending much of my teenage years and early 20s drinking and going to nightclubs and staying awake all night, I too missed years of my career, making my football age ’27′. Of course I’m also 280 in dog years, which probably explains my lack of pace. And why I keep weeing on trees.
Still, Rosicky is determined to make up for lost time:
I can say that I feel very well and I hope I have many years to come. You see players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes – what they are producing at their age for Manchester United is great and that’s a real inspiration for me.
Everything is possible, but of course it will depend on my health.
Leaving asisde the trophylessness of this season, Rosicky’s revival has been one of the feel good stories of the campaign and fingers crossed he can continue to contribute.
Bonus reading: Tim Stillman – Uncomfortable Steamers.
Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by former Gunner (now pundit and host of the Red, White and Blue podcast), Adrian Clarke. On the agenda, midweek Champions League action, Arsenal’s end of season run-in, Robin van Persie and his future and more.
Also in the mix Internet Joe, a musical interlude from Shawcross and the usual waffle.
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 (24mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.
And that’s that. News and press conference updates throughout the day on Arseblog News, back tomorrow with a full preview of the Stoke game.
Till then, have a good Friday.