Morning all, it’s Friday, and now things are going to start building towards Sunday’s match with Leicester City. We’ve been able to huff and puff around it all week, but with the press conference this morning and all that goes with it, the focus will be well and truly on what’s going to be a massive game.
We’ll look at it in more detail over the next day or two, but in the meantime there’s some positive news on the injury front regarding both Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. The manager provided an update yesterday, saying:
They are back running. They are on a fitness programme now so it means it is not a question of months anymore, it is a question of weeks for them to be back.
It does remind me a bit of when we’re linked with a signing, and people say, ‘Well, I won’t believe any of it until I see them on the pitch wearing an Arsenal shirt’, and certainly with regard to Jack that’s the case. He’s been on the brink of a comeback more than once only for it to be delayed, so I think a little caution is probably for the best. We don’t want our expectations dashed once more, eh?
If they do get back on schedule though, there’s no doubt these are two players who could play a significant part until the end of the season. Cazorla’s midfield craft, allied with Wilshere’s driving positivity, definitely provide us with qualities we don’t have in abundance right now, and it’s down to the rest of them to make sure that when they do return, we’re in a place where their talents can help us achieve something.
Danny Welbeck is now really close with the manager suggesting he could play in the FA Cup game against Hull next weekend. He said:
It is a big possibility. He is doing well … he is now back to full power in training. We gave him one or two days recovery after the under-21 game, but now he is back in full training. He has worked very hard and he is fit.
Good news again, and another forward option is not to be sniffed at, but at the same time Welbeck doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s not like bringing back an Aguero or an Henry who you just know is going to score goals consistently. I like Welbeck though, I think he’s got something to offer, and hopefully he’s gumming to make up for all that lost time when he does get back on the pitch.
Elsewhere, and there’s good news for American Gooners, as Arsenal have announced two fixtures in the US this summer. Firstly, we’ll play in the MLS All-Star game in San Jose, before heading to LA to face Chivas de Guadalajara at the StubHub Centre in Los Angeles on Sunday on July 31. Arsene Wenger says:
Pre-season is a critically important time for us and we are delighted to be going to San Jose and Los Angeles to participate in the 2016 MLS All-Star game and to play Chivas.
We have tremendous support across America and enjoyed our visit to New York in the summer of 2014 when we played the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. We look forward to giving our US fans the chance to see the team play live.
There are no ticket details just yet, but I’m sure all will be made clear on the official site in due course. And I look forward to lots of pictures of the Arsenal players with the Hollywood sign in the background.
Finally for this morning, much has been written about ticket prices and protests this week, but Tim Stillman’s column this week on those subjects is a must read. Check it out here.
Right then, time now for this week’s Arsecast, and to look ahead to this weekend’s clash with Leicester City I’m joined by former Gunner Adrian Clarke. I ask him how these Leicester players will be feeling, sitting top of the table; what Arsene Wenger’s approach to the game will be to try and win but not fall into their counter-attacking trap; as well as what the manager will do in midfield and centre-half where he has selection decisions to make. I discuss Arsenal’s summer trip to the USA, and there’s all the usual space-based waffle in there too.
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As ever we’ll have all the team news and updates from the press conference over on Arseblog News throughout the day. Follow @arseblognews for instant updates via Twitter. I’ll catch up with you tomorrow, happy listening.