Right, loads to get through this morning.
At his press conference yesterday Arsene Wenger confirmed the signing of French defender Sebastien Squillaci. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed there’s been no official announcement, however. This is probably just because the final bits and pieces need to be sorted out and I’m expecting that to happen today at some stage.
On the player himself Arsene said:
He is a real defender and is good in the one-against-one, good in the air, and can score goals on set-pieces as well. I believe he will be suited to the English game. He will train with us tomorrow morning, but will not be involved on Saturday.
As we’ve got an Interlull after the Blackburn game he’ll have plenty of time to get used to his new surroundings. He hasn’t been called up to the French squad for their Euro 2012 qualifiers either so that’s a bit of a bonus.
For me he’s a decent signing, adding experience and competition to the central-defensive places. Koscielny and Djourou will have to compete properly to line-up alongside Vermaelen, and it gives us the option of rotating a bit should we need to. We saw last season there was a reluctance on the manager’s part to look beyond Gallas and Vermaelen when they were fit. Perhaps that was due to lack of real options but in the end they couldn’t last, both of them breaking down before the season ended, so he might look at using his main men a bit more sparingly.
He was giving nothing away regarding the goalkeepers, choosing instead to big up what we have. Standard stuff. You can hear John Cross on today’s Arsecast talking about the Schwarzer situation. He says he’s ‘pretty damn confident’ the Australian will arrive so with just a few days until the transfer window closes all we can do is sit and wait for it to happen. Nevertheless, the Mail reckons if we don’t get Schwarzer we’ll go for French keeper Mickael Landreau (which translated means Mickey Laundry). Tick tock, and all that.
Also yesterday – the Champions League draw. I suppose you’d say it’s been relatively kind to Arsenal. We’ve got SC Braga (Os Arsenalistas – check out their home kit), Partizan Belgrade and Shaktar Donetsk, the new home of Eduardo. There’s plenty of travel but in terms of the quality of the opposition it could have been a lot, lot worse. After the draw Eduardo said:
I always had a feeling that Arsenal and Shakhtar would be drawn together in the same group.
It will be fantastic for me to come back to a club I will always love and respect, to see all my old team-mates and to play again in front of the best fans in England.
And even though he’s going to score against us, you know it, I know it, everyone knows it, I think it’s great that he gets to come back. It’s such a shame the way his Arsenal career petered out and it’ll be nice for both sides to have a little moment together. Dry your eyes, mate.
The vagaries of the Premier League fixtures mean that of the six group stage games we’ve got, we’ve got away fixtures after five of them. Tough going at the best of times but two of those away games are United and Chelsea. Of course they’ll be in CL action themselves. I haven’t looked to see if they’re home or away but it’s going to make challenging fixtures even more so. Still, nothing we can do but just knuckle down and get on with it.
The Sun links us with Peterborough centre-half Ryan Bennett.
Arsene had some interesting things to say ahead of the Blackburn game, particularly in relation to the treatment of goalkeepers. More on that tomorrow when I preview the game. The only bit of injury related news is that Denilson returns to the squad. The Brazilian is likely to be on the bench tomorrow, I can’t see him starting.
I also heard Alex Song might have done something unusual with his hair. I was looking at him during the Blackpool game and while I love his Sideshow Bob look it struck me that it must make heading the ball a little more tricky. We’ll wait to see what he’s done. Not that I particularly care about footballers hairstyles but no blogger should ever pass up the chance to reference Sideshow Bob.
*steps on rake*
And that’s about that for the news. On to today’s Arsecast and as I mentioned earlier I’m joined by John Cross from the Mirror (follow him on Twitter here). Up for discussion, Squillaci, Schwarzer, Theo Walcott and Alan Hansen as well as a look ahead to the Blackburn game. There’s Talkshite radio and the usual guff too.
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. To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (26mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.
So there you go. Have yourselves a jolly good Friday, more tomorrow including a proper Blackburn preview.