West Ham preview + Saturday round-up

It’s back to the bread and butter today as we play our first league game since the soporific 0-0 with City ten days ago.

Since then we’ve hardly had the kind of confidence boosting results in the cup we would have liked. Momentum is very much an issue for this Arsenal team. You feel that if we really got going we’d take some stopping but we seem unable to go more than a few games at a time without derailing. Hopefully we can get things moving again today at West Ham – and keep them moving.

The team news is that Wojscez©® will play in goal as Fabianski misses out with a shoulder problem. Apart from that nobody but the usual suspects out and Sagna remains unavailable due to suspension. I suppose that means Eboue will continue and I hope we see a much improved performance from him today. So, I figure we’ll line up as follows:

Wojscez©® – Eboue – Koscienly – Djourou – Clichy – Song – Wilshere – Cesc – Nasri – van Persie – Walcott

The return of Nasri will add some attacking potency while we have to look for Robin van Persie to start scoring some goals now. He’s nine games into his comeback with just two goals to show for it. Both of which were set-pieces (a penalty and a free kick). He’s got to be match fit and we need him to start producing up front. Goals have been a bit of a problem recently so it would be nice if today was the day he found his shooting boots.

West Ham are struggling, rock bottom of the Premier League and they’ve played more games than the teams around them. They are going to make this a serious scrap today and we’ve got to be ready for that. There’s some good news in that Scott Parker looks set to miss out and anyone who has seen the Hammers this season will know how important he is to them.

Opposition aside, it’s all about how Arsenal approach the game. Any repeat of the lackadaisical display at Ipswich and we’re going to be unhappy at full-time, no doubt about it. West Ham might be bottom but if a team near the bottom of the Championship can beat us there’s no reason why they can’t. If, on the other hand, we see the right kind of effort and spirit then we’ve got the quality to take the three points. Of course we’ll have to work hard and, crucially, we’ll have to take our chances when they come but if we really want to win this game we can.

The manager spoke yesterday about consistency and how the team that finds consistency of performance will be the one that achieves success. It’s about more than performance though. It’s about being consistent in terms of attitude and preparation. No game is easy, no opponents a walkover, and that’s where we’ve let ourselves down this season. I can’t imagine we’ll see the same Arsenal today as we did at Ipswich. Let’s hope not anyway.

It looks as if Andrei Arshavin will find himself on the substitutes bench again and as you might imagine he’s received the backing of the manager, who says:

I personally believe he is a great player – he is going through a period where it is more difficult at the moment. But he works very hard in training – his attitude is fantastic and I am desperate to keep him.

I think enough has been said about Arshavin over the last few days but we need to see that fantastic attitude in training replicated on the pitch. He’s a man bereft of confidence, no doubt about that, and I’m sure Arsene’s public support is to try and lift his spirits, but the only way to get past this slump is to work hard and if that doesn’t do it, work harder.

The subject of our defender search came up during the press conference and he was giving absolutely nothing away, saying:

I cannot give you any information on that. I promise you that if we sign someone you will be informed.

He was a little more forthcoming with the gentlemen of the press after his televised conference and it looks as if he’s only interested in signing someone in the short-term as cover for what we’ve got. In that case you have to ask what calibre of player is going to sign knowing they’re going to have limited chances and playing time if and when everyone’s fit? Who would give up regular first team football for a few games at Arsenal before they became a bench-warmer?

Clearly it’s more difficult to business now than in the summer. If Gary Cahill really is our main target the fact that Bolton’s squad is completely threadbare makes a deal extremely unlikely. I’m not entirely convinced that this is the issue anyway. Do we really have such grand designs for the summer? I’m not sure. I just think it’s a case that he wasn’t expecting to have to buy anyone in January and isn’t really sure what he should do.

If he spends big on a player then that makes it tough to keep five centre-halves happy when everyone’s fit. Of course that’s a much better problem to have than only having two available but there you go. That’s why I remain unconvinced he’s going to do any business.

There was some good news regarding Thomas Vermaelen though. It now looks as if he’s not going to undergo surgery, which is surely a good sign, but even still it’d be a risk to put any money on him returning soon. His prognosis seems to change almost daily which is probably the best indication you need that they’re still in the dark as to the extent of his injury and how to make it better.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail ran an exclusive linking us with £5m move for Southampton ‘wonderkid’ Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Quite how much truth there is in it I have no idea but wouldn’t it be just typical of Arsenal, in dire need of a centre-half, to spend £5m on a 17 year old attacker?

Jack Wilshere interview in the Mirror:

The Arsenal fans are great, every week they are 60,000 and the away support is fantastic. We have to repay them. I do seem to have a bond. Maybe it’s because I’m an English lad, I’ve come through the youth ranks and I feel like they grew to like me very quickly and they’ve always been great to me so I owe them a lot as well.

Manuel Almunia might still leave the club but if he does we won’t be buying another keeper. Which I’m ok with, I have to say. I think competition for places is a good thing, and there’s definitely that between Fabianski and Wojscez©® but too many players can muddy the waters a bit. There are some promising keepers in the reserves/youth teams but, all going well, they won’t get any further than the bench this season. Plus, if everything goes completely wrong, is there the Man City precedent which allows you to make an emergency signing?

Anyway, that’s about that for now. Here’s to a good performance and three points later on. It’s the late evening kick-off and we’ve got to keep the pressure up. A win would put us just a point behind United (albeit having played two games more) before they face that lot tomorrow.

Let’s see The Arsenal later on. Not That Arsenal.


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