Competition for injuries + Arsecast 173

Good Friday to one and all, we can start with some early team news for tomorrow.

It’s not a surprise at all that Kieran Gibbs is set to be out for ‘a few weeks’ with knee ligament damage. He looked in trouble on Wednesday night and it’s another blow for a player who is the poo which attracts the injury flies. Hopefully it is just a few weeks and not a few weeks like we’ve seen with some others.

Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey are set to return to full training next week, the former more likely to see action before the latter. I suspect they’ll be very, very cautious with Ramsey, ensuring that the problems which dogged Eduardo and Diaby subsequent to their horrific injuries don’t affect him. Manuel Almunia remains out with his broken heart elbow while there’s still no definitive answer on Thomas Vermaelen, the manager saying:

It is difficult to set a fixed time because his Achilles improves slowly.

So you could ask the question why he’s given us fixed times on more than one occasion but it’s not really that big of an issue. The most important thing is ensuring he gets back fully fit because he is an important player for us.

One of the issues touched on in today’s Arsecast is competition for places and the way that players react to that. Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner have returned from injury this week and given the manager the kind of problem that every manager wants to have – how does he fit them into his team? There are lots of games to play, with midweek action in the Champions League, but it can often take players some time to get back up to speed after a spell out. Walcott has 3 in 2 games, Nick 2 in 2. They’re flying.

Theo says:

There is competition for places but that’s what you want – you want the manager to have a headache. Players like the competition because it gets the best out of us all and, if we can continue to get better, it’s going great.

What’s interesting is that we have that in nearly every position on the pitch this season. Even the display of Wojscez©® the other night will have reminded Fabianski that he’s got to maintain consistency, that there’s a young, hungry player just waiting for him to slip up so he can have his chance. Theo’s attitude is fantastic though and if that’s a measure of how the rest of the squad feel about things then it’s very positive indeed.

The boss will have to decide if Theo has played himself back into the team for tomorrow’s game – he’s got to be seriously in the reckoning – and then how he reshuffles things. Samir Nasri is in the best form of his Arsenal career and the man whose place might be most under threat at this moment in time is Andrei Arshavin. I suspect, for this weekend anyway, Theo’s midweek exertions will mean he starts on the bench, ready to come on and take advantage of tired legs late in the game, especially as West Ham played 120 mins on Wednesday night. We might get a better idea after Arsene’s press conference today.

The Mirror reports that Celtic are looking at Wojscez©® for a January loan move. Can’t see it happening myself but who knows? It all depends on what the boss reckons he can get out of Manuel Almunia between now and the end of the season.

Before the Arsecast just a reminder to folks to update their bookmarks/links to arseblog.com. And don’t forget the whole FacebookTwitter thing as well as the mailing list which will cram fresh arse in your box every morning, and I know most Arseblog readers love a bit of that.

Now then, on to this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Goodplaya to discuss the Carling Cup, Man City, competition for places and the next couple of fixtures. Internet Joe has his usual round-up and an old friend returns.

Please remember that because of the move some things will have changed. 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 (23mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://arseblog.com/podcasts/arsecast_episode173.mp3]

Right then, have at it. Till tomorrow.

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