Cesc still a doubt – Theo – Almunia + Arsecast 179

Normally on a Friday we’re looking forward to the game tomorrow, or Sunday at the latest. Having to wait until Monday evening seems a bit rubbish to me but television has decided.

It means there’ll be lots of time to think about the team and who might be fit. Obviously the main issue is over Cesc. On his Twitter last night he said:

Training, training and more training. Hopefully I‘ll be available for monday.

However, Arsene Wenger says there’s still a ‘big uncertainty‘ as to whether he’ll play or not which doesn’t sound that promising really. It’s only a couple of days before the game so we might hope for more encouraging news than that from the manager. Maybe it’s a little bit of mind games when you consider the injury news he’s been giving the press recently but I suppose we have to take him at face value.

I’m a bit torn, obviously when you play big games you want your best players involved and there’s no doubt Cesc is one of those. On the other hand though there are some other really important games coming up – Stoke (who must be destroyed), Chelsea (who must be beaten to a pulp with the severed arms of Shawcross) and then Man City in early January.

The United game is important, of course, but not season defining. It’s too early for that. I’m sure Cesc and the medical team will do the right thing. If he feels 100%, if the scans etc show no problem, then there’s no reason he can’t play. We just have to hope that his hamstring problems are behind him now because we need him for the rest of the season.

Bad news for Kieran Gibbs who’ll be out for three weeks with an ankle sprain. It’s not unexpected when you look at how he went over on it but it is desperately unlucky for him. I think he might need to marry one of Girls Aloud so they can look after him with home cooked meals which will strengthen him up. Can’t think of any other solution, can you? Johan Djourou will be back in the squad as well and at this stage that’s as much as we know.

Theo Walcott is looking to start on Monday night and says he’s getting frustrated on the bench. Understandable when you think about how he started the season but, for the most part, he’s been competing with Samir Nasri for a place in the team and Nasri’s form is such that you can’t even think about dropping him for a game like United. The relative lack of injuries means that for the first time in quite a while Arsene has got a situation where players are fit, ready to play, and sitting on the bench.

There’s a long way to go this season and a lot of football still to play. It’s important that he keeps everyone as happy as possible. And it’s also important for some of the players to realise that if we want to win something then their contribution when they start, and when they come off the bench, is going to play a vital role in that. No player worth his salt is happy being on the bench but sulking (not that I’m suggesting Theo is) is counter-productive.

It also means that when players do get a chance they have to take it. Theo didn’t do particularly well against Fulham but scored a crucial goal in the Champions League. Then you have to look at players like Bendtner, Rosicky and Vela, all of whom have the quality to make more of an impact. It’s up to them to give the manager a headache about his team selection.

One man who looks to be off in the January transfer window is Manuel Almunia. He’s been allowed go back to Spain to help recover from his ‘elbow injury’ and his agent says:

We have still not finished negotiations, but it is clear that Manuel wants to return to Spain.

I do feel a bit sorry for him, I have to say. I thought he handled himself very well during the summer as the public Schwarzer chase was ongoing and in general he never made the same kind of calamitous fuck-ups that Fabianski did. Obviously though the manager has chosen to work with the Pole as he feels he’s got more potential and with Wojscez©® now installed as our number 2 Manuel’s future is so dark he’s got wear night vision goggles (variation on an 80s theme there).

I’m sure there are options for him, even some talk of Qatar, but his wages at Arsenal – which are far higher than a keeper of standing could hope to earn back in Spain – might be an issue. We’ll see what happens and with Vito Mannone talking of a permanent move to Hull it’d be interesting to see if someone is being promoted from within to understudy the Poles.

There are some reports about young Brazilian Wellington being denied a work permit but the details of said reports are rather sketchy. From what I can gather the initial application has been turned down and I think we can appeal based on the fact that he’s an ‘exceptional talent’. Remember, we got that kind of permit for a 17 year old Alex Song so …

Beyond that not much else happening (I’ve seen Evra’s comments but will deal with them over the weekend), so it’s time for this week’s Arsecast. Joining me to discuss our top of the leagueness and Champions League qualification, as well as our defensive shambolicosity, is the man from East Lower. Also in there is Internet Joe, Arshavin reminisces, there’s a Tale of the Unexpected and your chance to win yourself a Savile Rogue scarf (remember, use ‘arseblog‘ at check out to get a 10% discount).

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 (22mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://arseblog.com/podcasts/arsecast_episode179.mp3]

And there you have it. Thankfully there’s a bit of a thaw going on here, so hopefully there might be a game of 5-a-side this evening. Which would be nice. Fingers crossed.

More tomorrow.

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