no lengthy tales and bad puns this morning, I promise. Tonight sees the final games of the final Interlull of 2012 so like everyone I’m keeping fingers crossed that those involved come through unscathed. Various reports suggest Laurent Koscielny has been training apart from the rest of the French squad with some concerns about the knee injury he picked up last week, so fingers crossed he’s ok.
He drew praise from French legend Marcel Marceau Desailly who said:
I love Koscielny, I’ve seen him a lot. He has good leg speed, which reminds me of Lilian [Thuram]. The last time we spoke I told him to work hard and he’ll become one of the best defenders in the world.
He’s at the standard of a Vidic or Pique. I mean that sincerely.
Nice words indeed but I think he’s got some way to go yet. Last season he was very, very good indeed. This season he found himself sidelined by the form of Mertesacker and when the manager did the rotation thing he had a frankly awful game against Chelsea. And if he wants to be considered one of the best in the world then he’s going to have to improve on that. Yes, it’s not easy being out of the team and I still think Wenger’s decision to change things against Chelsea was a poor one, but it’s down to the player himself to perform.
The good thing is we know he’s capable of better so hopefully we’ll see more of last season Laurent as this season progresses. He’s also been in the news for his comments about Luis Suarez. When asked by L’Equipe what striker he most dislikes playing against, he said:
Luis Suarez. He is hard to take. He’s a cheat, always pulls the shirt and gives little kicks. You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be sent off.
He is a player who likes to dive as soon as there is contact.
Now, I may end up with a dead arm from the Mugsmasher later but I think it’s fair to say Saurez is rather light on his feet and now his reputation precedes him to the point where referees overlook legitimate contact in the box. He doesn’t do himself any favours with the theatrics either, but as for the other stuff I’d say Suarez would be quite happy to hear it.
As a striker it’s his job to make the job of a centre-half difficult. If he pulls an opponent’s shirt and gives him little kicks it’s no different to what centre-halves do to strikers week in, week out. It goes on at every level of the game, players trying to wind each other up, to try and get some kind of advantage. Either for the defender to lose his concentration, allowing the striker a chance he might not have had, or lose his cool therefore getting a booking which might restrict him for the rest of the game (or the red card Kos mentions).
As backhanded compliments go it’s as backhandy as they come but I don’t think Suarez will be losing any sleep over what Koscielny said. And when Koscielny is quick to praise Didier Drogba, a man whose Oscar winning performances enthralled/enraged audiences since his first game in the Premier League, you have to think the Frenchman is, perhaps, on a bit of a wind-up himself.
Staying with internationals and Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Carl Jenkinson has plumped for England when it comes to international football. He says:
He didn’t take a lot of convincing. I don’t want to trick him to play for England in a few minutes in a game to block him, but he had to make a decision because we’re very interested in him, even if the competition is tougher to get him into the England team rather than the Finland team. He made it very clear he wanted to play for England.
Which adds to clarity to the situation but with Jenkinson requiring international clearance because of his previous experience with Finland at underage level, and England not playing again until next year, the challenge is for him maintain his form to ensure he’s considered for the team at that stage. He’s got a returning Bacary Sagna to contend with, and it’ll be interesting to see how he copes if the Frenchman cements his place as first choice right back.
It’s not easy being in and out of the team (see Laurent Koscielny) but these are the things that professional footballers have to cope with. How he deals with the competition for his place and not playing as regularly will tell us a lot about him. I think he’s grown considerably as a player and he seems to have the right character, but one week’s hero is another’s forgotten man, so we’ll have to see how it all goes.
Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere will continue his comeback with a behind closed doors game against a Chelsea side at the training ground tomorrow. It will also provide another game for Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Frimpong as they recover from injury. There were some suggestions that Wilshere could be involved this weekend against Norwich but I have to say I’d be very surprised if that happened. If it does it’s because he’s feeling no ill effects from the training or the games he’s playing in, but after so long out, and without having completed a 90 minutes, it’d probably be a bit too soon.
The Capital One Cup game at the end of the month seems most likely for his first start but assuming all goes well tomorrow and there are no niggles or strains after being out so long, a place on the substitutes bench before that isn’t impossible. It brings the prospect of that rather delicious Arteta – Wilshere – Cazorla midfield trio all the closer and that, my friends, is gusset moistening stuff indeed.
Right, that’s that. Back tomorrow and hopefully we can start looking forward to real football again. Until then.