Morning to you all. It’s an early kick-off today as we travel north to face Wigan. It provides us with a chance to move into the top four, perhaps temporarily, but it is what it is nonetheless.
Our record against Wigan is good, even if the defeat at home last season is fresh in the memory. The only time we’ve lost a league game at the JJB was in the 2009/10 season when we went 2-0 up and Sylvester scored and everyone thought it was a great laugh so they slapped him on the head and then Wigan, with the help of Fabianski, scored three late goals to make us look very silly indeed.
But we went there last year and won 4-0 at a time when results hadn’t been brilliant, so let’s hope for more of the same today. Arsene Wenger’s only real decision today is whether or not to keep Theo Walcott up front or bring back Olivier Giroud. I suspect he’ll keep faith with the same team that played so well against Reading, even if the Frenchman is a more natural centre-forward.
The midfield worked well and the two wide men both contributed to a much more dynamic and purposeful Arsenal performance and it seems very much a case of if it ain’t broke, it don’t need fixing. Arsene Wenger is warning his side to be wary of Wigan and, after conceding two very sloppy goals against Reading, wants his side switched on for the entire game:
If you look at the Wigan names – Di Santo, Kone, Figueroa, McCarthy, McArthur – they have quality players. We have to learn to keep our focus for 90 minutes. It’s important that we focus and concentrate on the quality of the game we played [on Monday] night at Reading and try to repeat that.
It’s a game we’re well capable of winning, no question, but until we put together a decent run of performances and results it’s hard to be anything other than a bit cautious. While I totally accept this is a squad which needs strengthening, I think there are enough good players to win most of the games we play. It’s not lack of ability that’s our biggest problem, it’s lack of consistency.
Perhaps you might say that being unable to produce on a consistent basis is tied in with talent and ability, but in pure footballing terms these players are, and have been, capable of better this season against certain opposition. Wigan provide a great chance for three points but also another banana skin moment. We should go into this game confident after a good away performance at Reading, so fingers crossed we take all the positives from that one and keep it going today.
Elsewhere, Carl Jenkinson has been talking about his new deal:
Obviously I’m over the moon – really happy. I see my future at this football club and I’m delighted they see things the same way. Signing the contract shows commitment from me, which Arsenal can always count on, but it’s a big commitment from them as well. People here clearly have belief in me, and now I have to make sure I prove them right.
And as an Arsenal fan you can be sure you’ll get 100% in every game from him. Which is the minimum you should expect from any player really but I think we all know it’s not necessarily how it works. I have to say though, as much as I like him and the way he’s progressed, I’d like to see Bacary Sagna stay at the club. Even if he doesn’t sign a new deal – and I think that looks unlikely now, sadly – we should keep him until the end of his current contract.
It would allow Jenkinson to develop further and to remain under the tutelage of one of the best right backs in the Premier League. I know some people suggest we might have worries over Sagna from an injury point of view after the two broken legs, but we’re not that worried that we don’t play him every week, so I don’t think that’s the issue. It might well be that the player himself wants to try something new before the end of his career, and that’s not unreasonable. Ideally, I’d like him to sign a new contract with us but if not, and for the sake of the team and the passing of the torch from one generation to the next, I wouldn’t have any objection if he stayed until summer 2014 and went on a Bosman.
Beyond that not much going on this morning, provided you ignore all the transfer guff and speculation. Which is exactly what I’m doing. Although Sport.es are reporting on David Villa to Arsenal they’re using the Mail as a source. In which case, bollocks to it all.
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So, that’s that. Three points today would the ideal pre-Christmas gift. Come on you reds.