Hello there. I celebrated my birthday in fine style last night by spilling a whole pint right over the Mugsmasher’s pants. I think I might make that some kind of tradition. Thank you to everyone for their kind wishes via Twitter etc, much appreciated.
We’ll start this morning with the news that Jack Wilshere did indeed have his surgery yesterday. Everything went well, he was feeling happy enough to Tweet and such, but the club released a statement last night saying:
Jack will now undergo a prolonged period of rehabilitation. It is envisaged that Jack’s rehabilitation will take a period of four to five months.
While the wee fella himself said:
I’ve had my operation this morning and all went well. My ankle is little bit sore, but I’m already looking forward to working hard to get fit and playing again. I would also just like to say thanks for the many messages of support I have received from you – the fantastic Arsenal supporters.
So, at best we’re looking at four months, meaning Jack returns at the start of February. Of course many worst case scenarios are being bandied about, with return times from March to April to next season. The only surprise is that there hasn’t been some kind of story about how Jack’s ankle has been consumed by some flesh-eating MRSA variant and that he will return to become the Oscar Pistorius of football.
It is a blow, of course, but there’s really not a lot we can do about it but wait. Wilshere’s emergence and rapid rise to such importance is incredible but his absence opens the door for two younger players to stake their claim. Song, Ramsey and Arteta will have to shoulder most of the work as the season progresses, and maybe, just maybe, Abou Diaby might return at some point (although when you hear people talking about the state of his ankle you can’t help but worry if he’ll ever be capable of doing it at the top level again). But Frimpong and Coquelin are both interesting talents.
I’m not saying they’re Wilshere replacements. They’re far from it. Both of them are naturally more defensive-minded players. Wilshere was used in that role by Arsene Wenger to aid his development as a player until he moved further forward in midfield to the position he’s most suited too. But to have two young, talented defensive midfielders scrapping with each other for a place in the team might well provide the kind of competitive atmosphere to get the best out of them. I realise this is far more cloud than silver lining but every bit counts.
From all the reports of the Carling Cup game against Shrewsbury, Coquelin was one of our stand-out performers on the night, and after a full season on loan in Ligue Uuuuuuuuuun, he’s got more experience than his competitor. For now it seems the manager is more inclined to go with the power and physique of Frimpong but I think this could be a very interesting battle between them as the season progresses. It’s the kind of competition you want to see, two young players, hungry for first team action and hopefully it will serve both of them well, because if it does the team will reap the benefits.
There are also suggestions this morning that Theo Walcott will miss tomorrow night’s game against Olympiacos and possibly the North London derby on Sunday too. The minor nature of his knee problem isn’t as minor as we would like, I guess, but we’ll have to wait and see. We should get some confirmation on that later today as Arsene meets the press ahead of that Champions League game.
Meanwhile, the BFG (Big Friendly German), says Saturday’s defensive display against Bolton, was down to some extra work on the training ground:
We trained a little harder, especially on the way we want to defend. It worked and on Saturday you saw we had a better defence. We were closer together. After the four goals against Blackburn we lost a little bit of confidence but we were very proud of our performance on Saturday. We want to go on with this way of defending.
The proof of the pudding will be seeing the entire pudding, however. At the moment we just had a tiny taste of the pudding and while that taste was all right we need to have more pudding before we know the pudding is consistently good. The outer pudding might be excellent but perhaps the inner-pudding is a bit too dry. We shall see. We’ll get another taste tomorrow night against the Greeks who hopefully won’t ruin our pudding with their yoghurt.
It will be interesting to see if Arsene changes his back four at all for tomorrow night’s game. The new Brazilian, Andre Santos, isn’t going to get accustomed to football at Arsenal by sitting on the bench but I suspect the manager will be reluctant to change a defence that has just provided a clean sheet.
Mertesacker’s comment about the team being closer together agaisnt Bolton was interesting. I don’t think he means across the backline, I suspect he means the team in general, thus making it more difficult for the other team to find spaces between our forwards and midfield, midfield and defence. That suggests better organisation and it requires concentration and hard work too. Let’s hope we see more of it tomorrow night.
No doubt we’ll hear more from Arsene about defending, Jack, Robin’s contract and how the Eurozone can manage the debt crisis at his press conference later. Coverage of that and other news can be found throughout the day on Arseblog News.
More here tomorrow with a full preview of the Olympiacos game.