Morning all. Back at work? Long Christmas break over? Boss giving you a hard time already? Wish I could help. Have you thought about smashing him on the top of the head with a mallet? A bit of personal satisfaction plus the classic comedy you can only get by smashing someone on the top of the head with a mallet. Or dropping an anvil on them from the edge of a cliff. Although if cartoons have taught us anything it’s to exercise extreme caution when carrying out that particular gag.
We’ve got plenty on the horizon from an Arsenal point of view. Tomorrow we play Man City in the league, our last league game for 10 days or so, as that’s followed by the FA Cup 3rd round against Leeds and then the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Ipswich.
Speaking of whom I watched them yesterday against Nottingham Forest. Not so much to see what they’re like but to see how Aaron Ramsey got on in the final game of his loan spell. He was a bit quiet, to be honest, one brilliant ball in the second half should have brought about a second goal for Forest, but as the home side pressed for an equaliser they didn’t have a lot of the ball. He was noticeably cautious in the tackle a couple of times. Whether that was through fear, because of the injury, or common sense, as he was on a yellow card, I don’t quite know.
The weather meant he didn’t get quite as many games for Forest as we might have liked but from the couple of Forest fans I’ve chatted to on Twitter the reaction has been very positive and he returns to Arsenal today with the praise of manager Billy Davies who says:
Aaron has been a pleasure to have about the place. From working with him on a daily basis it’s clear to see he has a wonderful future ahead of him. He has been not only a credit to himself in the time that he’s been with us, but also a credit to Arsenal.
I think he’s got some way to go before he’ll be physically ready to play for us. What’s heartening though is that he hasn’t yet suffered any kind of muscular strain/injury which was a real fear when you consider Eduardo and Diaby. Realistically it’s going to be some time before he’s back to his best, physically and mentally, but so far so good.
As for Ipswich as Carling Cup opponents, they played some nice stuff and put Forest under real pressure, but looked fairly toothless in the final third. It’s also easy to see why Arsenal are keeping an eye on Connor Wickham. He’s just 17 but already physically imposing, shows a lovely touch at times, but probably has some developing to do before being ready for Premier League football. He looks like a slightly less clumsy Bendnter but without the Dane’s goalscoring. Interesting player.
In terms of Man City there don’t appear to be any new injuries, which is good news, and despite the team that played at Birmingham undergoing a serious test I suspect there probably won’t be any changes for tomorrow night. In his pre-match interview with the official site the boss, in defence of his rotation policy over the Christmas period, says he ‘could’ choose the team that played against Wigan. Yeah, but he won’t. Not a chance. Those players are more likely to start in the cup games.
Kieran Gibbs could return at the weekend which is good news providing he can go more than a few minutes without picking up another injury, while it looks as if Thomas Vermaelen is still a little way away from a return. Arsene admitted that should the Belgian’s comeback be delayed again then we might have to look at bringing someone in during the transfer window, however, he also said he was confident he would be back. This week is crucial. He returns to training and running and if the injury holds up then we can expect to see him sooner rather than later.
The thing to bear in mind, of course, is that he hasn’t played since the 7th of September and will need some time to get match fit. Hopefully he’s over the worst now though. Not only is he a good defender, something we need in the squad, but he’s got the natural leadership and defensive aggression we’ve been missing at times. Achilles injuries are notoriously niggly though. As I said, fingers crossed.
It was also telling to hear the manager say that Manuel Almunia would be out for 2-3 weeks more. Coincidentally almost the full duration of the transfer window. Meanwhile Owen Coyle has confirmed his interest in Carlos Vela, saying:
We have got a good relationship with Arsenal and Arsene. If you ask if Carlos is available and are Bolton interested the answer would be yes. Arsene will want any player going out on loan to be playing. His belief will be that Carlos Vela would come back to Arsenal a better player for experience.
Which all sounds as if something’s close to being agreed between the two clubs. I do still wonder about his long term future at the club. I have been told we’d be open to a permanent deal so perhaps the loan to Bolton isn’t so much about him coming back to Arsenal a better player but very much a case of putting him in the shop window. We shall see.
Beyond that not a lot else going on this morning. There’ll be a full preview of the Man City game in tomorrow’s blog. And just to remind you of the various strands of Arseblog for the new year. There’s Twitter and Facebook, as well as the Mailing List which will deliver the day’s blog to you first thing every morning, as well as the iPhone app and the Android app (search the marketplace for ‘arseblog’).
Right, till tomorrow.