Hello, welcome to Friday and the end of the Interlull well and truly. After ten days of nothing there’s a fair clump of stuff going on this morning and with Arsene’s press conference this morning there should be enough to get any Gooner through until we play Norwich tomorrow evening.
We do have some early team news ahead of that game and as expected Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott miss out. The latter is suffering from breathlessness after having his lung bruised by the San Marino Schumacher, and is likely to be out of action for around two weeks. Which is something of a blow. Despite his annoying contract situation, he showed against West Ham that he provides an effective option from the bench and while he can be a hugely frustrating player at times it’d be better to have him with us than not.
Also out is Kieran Gibbs for whom the Norwich game comes a bit too soon after he picked up a thigh strain in the 3-1 win at Upton Park. That means Andre Santos will get a chance at left back and hopefully he’ll use that to give the manager another full back conundrum to dwell on. As I touched on earlier in the week the imminent return of Bacary Sagna means Arsene has got to think carefully about how to use his ‘first choice’ right back in light of the progress made by Carl Jenkinson.
He’s got to balance the desire to play his strongest team – and I think it’s fair to say that Sagna is, at this point, a better player all round than Jenkinson – with a need to ensure that the younger man’s development continues. It’s something that’s discussed on today’s Arsecast: whether form is the deciding factor when picking the team. In an ideal world that’s the way it would work, but it is usually a little more complicated than that.
Santos has found himself on the sidelines because of Gibbs form and consistency and there’s a feeling that the Englishman fits better into this team from a defensive point of view. It’s worth noting though that Gibbs spoke about his licence to get forward, something he’s done very regularly, and if we’re more solid down that left hand side there’s a debt to be paid to Lukas Podolski too, who works very hard to provide cover for his full back when necessary. It’ll be interesting to see if Santos benefits similarly from having the German in front of him.
Beyond that we’re still in ‘few weeks’ territory for Diaby and Rosicky (experience suggests it would be foolish to hold your breath over either of them), Fabianski is due to see a specialist over his ankle ligament problem and there’s a glimmer of hope over Szczesny with the manager saying he thinks he’ll be back in two weeks time.
There’s no update on whether or not Wilshere or Sagna will be involved this weekend but I suspect the boss will face that very question at his press conference later this morning. As an aside, it’s refreshing to see Roy Hodgson take a sensible approach to Wilshere’s return and a call-up for next month’s friendly must be tempting for him as England manager, but no surprise at all to see that Stuart Pearce maintains his role as Dunce in Chief by talking about including Wilshere in the U21 European finals next summer.
Since I was very young, I dreamed of playing for Arsenal because a lot of French guys have succeeded there and it‘s a a big club. Every year they play in the Champions League, and that was important in my decision. But also, I believe in this team and this squad. And I think we have a great chance to win something this year.
Again, up for discussion in the Arsecast is the need to give players a proper amount of time before making judgement on them. I think he’s made a generally positive start to his Arsenal career, despite some misses which probably still make him wince, and there’s much to be encouraged about. But then we’ve been here before with Chamakh. The difference this time, I suppose, is that there’s nobody like the Dutch Skunk waiting in the wings.
The Moroccan was filling a temporary gap caused by injury, Giroud has to fill a permanent one because of van Persie’s desire to earn lots and lots and lots of money and to be a complete twat about it. There’s also the fact that as the goals van Persie scored became more and more crucial to the team, there’s the expectation that any replacement for him would need to do likewise. This season, with goals spread more evenly around the team, it allows the Frenchman to settle in with more ease. He’ll have come back from the Interlull with more confidence and belief after his fine goal against Spain so fingers crossed he can take that into what Arsene Wenger calls a ‘moment of truth‘.
Right then, on to this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by the man from East Lower to discuss the post-Interlull wasteland, goalkeepers, the right back issue, Jack Wilshere and more. Also in there some TalkShite Radio, a competition to win books from my friends at GCR Books, and the usual bits and pieces of 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 (22mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.
So that’s about that, real football returns tomorrow and soon it will be beer o’clock. News and press conference updates throughout the day on Arseblog News, more here tomorrow.