Udinese preview + Nasri controversy and more

Well, that was some day yesterday, eh? I think it’d be best to break it down into its various parts before we take a look at the game against Udinese tonight.

Cesc

He’s gone. Signed for Barcelona with a buy-out clause of a bazillion-gillion euros and he did some keepy-ups before saying nice things about us and the manager. On Arsene:

I will never forget what he has done for me. I couldn’t even talk when I wanted to say how grateful I was for what he has done to me, so I had to send a message afterwards saying thanks for everything.

And Arsenal fans:

I am sorry I couldn’t say anything for the last two and half months, Arsenal would not allow me to talk, I was disappointed and upset about that but it had to be like that. The biggest regret I will have in my career will be not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain.

In terms of the fee, as expected Barcelona are spinning it low, Arsenal spinning it higher. The bottom line is that Arsene has around £35m more available to him than he did previously. Without going over too much old ground we’ve got a great big hole in our midfield and £35m doesn’t like a tackle and can’t shoot. Get someone in and get them in quickly. Which bring us to:

Nasri

During the season Samir was quite often found on Twitter, chatting away about the Arsenal, but for some reason he’s gone quiet this summer. The only message in recent times was one wishing Robin van Persie a happy birthday. That was until he responded to some chants that were being sung about him by the fans at Newcastle, saying:

I heard what the fans were singing about me on Saturday and it is really disrespectful because I’m still a arsenal player.

He then went on to offer his ‘congratulations’ to Cesc on his move to Barcelona, which I thought was a quite pointed and deliberate choice of words … until Robin van Persie came along and said the same thing a little while later. The first part of what he said though, well, I can understand if he’s a bit unhappy about that. Who would like to hear people singing about you being a cunt?

That said, the contract thing, the links with Man United, then Man City, and the disruption his refusal to sign that new contract has caused means there’s not much in the way of patience for him right now. And addressing it like this in public isn’t going to make reconciliation any easier. Basically, we’ve just sat in Nasri’s seat on the team bus, he doesn’t like it and he won’t be shaking our hand before kick off any time soon.

At his press conference yesterday Arsene said he wanted him to stay but Nasri’s ‘outburst’ will have made that all the more difficult. Was it a deliberate ploy to force the club’s hand? We can only speculate. Last night, Man City chief executive Garry Cook was asked about the Nasri deal on BBC and said:

We always try not to disclose anything – obviously he’s still an Arsenal player and we need to respect that. So unfortunately I will refrain from giving an update on that.

He says unfortunately because you know the gurning flidrimmer would love to spout forth about it. He loves being the centre of attention but I imagine they’ve seen the way Arsenal reacted to Barcelona’s injudicious tweeting and have decided to stay mum. For me, at this point, the only solution is to sell him. As quickly as possible. Add the cash to Arsene’s pile and make Arsene spend it.

Song

Charged with violent conduct. He hasn’t got a leg to stand on, least of all Joey Barton’s. He’ll miss 3 games now, Liverpool, United and Swansea after the Interlull. When you consider we’ve got no Cesc, no Wilshere, no Diaby, no Nasri, possibly no Rosicky, and our only back-up for Song is the very raw Frimpong it’s a costly suspension.

Of course it’s not Song’s fault that we have such a paucity of midfield options but at a time when we do it’s incumbent on the players we have available to stay available. It also highlights our need for reinforcements more than ever. And for someone to replace the rocks inside Song’s head posing as brains with actual brains.

The manager also says he’s likely to appeal Gervinho’s red card which seems a bit silly to me. Yes, he was provoked, yes Barton is a thundering hypercunt, but he did slap him, gently I know, in the side of the head. We have no chance of getting it overturned, in my opinion, and they may added another game for a frivolous appeal.

The two clubs have also been charged with failing to control their players, yet there’s no charge for Barton who sparked it all. Typical FA cuntery.

Eboue

On his way to Galatasary.

Udinese

So, tonight and what is undoubtedly a crucial game for the club. The first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Udinese. It would be fair to say we’re not going into this game in the best of shape. As I pointed out above we’re rather lacking in the midfield and a fitness test for Rosicky later on will dictate his involvement. If he fails to make it, we’re looking at a midfield trio of Ramsey, Song and one of Frimpong or Lansbury.

Up front there’s no Robin van Persie due to suspension so the manager will have to shuffle his pack. He could play Chamakh there and there’s also talk of Nicklas Bendtner being involved. I think it says a lot about our forward options at the moment that we’re likely to use him at some stage this evening. I’ve said before this summer I’d like to keep him, unless it’s a case the club are going to go out and buy another striker, but at this point in time it’s hard to see the club going out and buying a pint of milk let alone a quality footballer.

I think he’ll start with Chamakh because a) he’s been more involved in pre-season and probably a bit sharper, and b) if Chamakh doesn’t perform you can always take him off and try Bendtner or Gervinho through the middle. I’d have little faith that Chamakh could come off the bench and change the game if we need it.

On the plus side the back four + keeper that kept a clean sheet against Newcastle should provide a reasonable platform for us, albeit against more dangerous opposition. Keeping the opposition out tonight is vital. So I’m going with a starting XI of: SZCZ – Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs – Song – Ramsey – Rosicky (or Frimpong/Lansbury) – Gervinho – Chamakh – Arshavin

There’s no Arsene on the bench tonight either, he’s suspended for his discussions with the referee after the Barcelona game. It’s not a huge inconvenience but it just adds to the air of uncertainty around this fixture and the club in general.

All the same, it’s the first home game of the season and I hope that the team’s performance goes some way to lift the spirits. Frustration and anger is very quick to manifest itself these days so while the game is on let’s hope the team get the backing they need and which could make a difference. It does work both ways though. Fans can lift the players but the players can lift the fans too.

I hope this game sets the tone for the weekend against Liverpool and all the other games to come. We need to see an Arsenal side that is fully committed and giving 100% at all times. We know we’re lacking a bit of quality at the moment but spirit and heart can go a long way to making up for that. Not throughout the whole season but certainly until we get some reinforcements in.

I’m sure the players are well aware of the importance of this game. Failure to qualify for the Champions League would have terrible consequences, from a financial point of view and I’m sure it would have a serious effect on potential recruits who may not want to come if we’re not feasting at Europe’s top table.

Time to stand up and be counted lads. Come on Arsenal. There’ll be live blog coverage later on as usual, details in a post later this evening.

Until then.

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