Saturday round-up

Ah, sleep. That’s the stuff.

We start this morning with Arsene Wenger saying pretty much what I said yesterday. There is nothing more important than the next game. At his press conference yesterday, he said:

What we are hopeful for and what we can achieve is to win our next game. I am convinced we have good potential, we have rebuilt the team and of course we were a bit disturbed at the start of the season for different reasons. But we just want to focus on short term at the moment, we are not in a position to make long-term plans.

Perhaps the Interlull might not have been a bad thing in one way. Sometimes the best thing after a defeat is to play another game straight away but other times a bit of a break, a clean sweep so to speak, isn’t bad either. I suspect confidence and morale are low at the moment but these are things which improve when results improve. Put together a few wins and things immediately start to look brighter. It’s definitely one game at a time territory though and we’ve got to get ourselves over the 3 game hump.

Going into Sp*rs we’d won three in a row, we weren’t necessarily convincing but the results were what mattered, and defeat at White Hart Lane was something of a setback. This time we’ve got three in a row, Sunderland, Marseille away, Stoke at home, and then we face Chelsea. Unbeaten (not specifically winning) momentum is what we need and that must begin tomorrow.

The boss confirmed that it would be Carl Jenkinson at right back and he was keen to stress the positives about the young man. He said:

He has top qualities. His fitness is outstanding, he’s quick, he has good crosses and he is good going forward. He needs to adjust a little bit his defensive game. But we are working with him and he is improving.

What happened to him so far is that he had good and less good games, especially the Man United game. But he had a good game at Udinese four days before.

He named some other candidates for the position, including Santos, Djourou, Koscielny and, interestingly, youngster Nico Yennaris – as Jenkinson obviously can’t play all the games while Sagna is out – but clearly this is a big test for him. It’s a chance to prove he’s got what it takes to play at this level and on such chances do careers rise and fall. Let’s see how he goes.

Jenkinson aside the manager spoke about two other players. First he said Theo Walcott is a more efficient player than he was:

When you look at Theo, he’s a player who you think sometimes ‘he could have contributed more then’, but then you think ‘who scored the goal?’ Him. Or ‘who made the pass?’ It’s him. He’s a player who is efficient.

Which does sum up so much about him. At times you look at him and find his decision making and techincal ability incredibly frustrating, but if you look at his numbers, and I know stats aren’t everthing, they’re at odds with what your eyes are seeing. Last season he scored 13 goals and had about that many assists, which is up there with any other player in his position in the league. Then you see him run the ball straight out for a goal kick. He’s confusingly efficient. I think the key point, however, is that there is room for improvement and hopefully that happens.

He also reckons that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could go to Euro 2012:

Let’s not judge a guy who plays one or two games and say he has absolutely to go to the European Championship. Let’s give him six or seven months. If in March, he has made a big step forward, why not?

Arsenal youngster going to a major tournament before he’s ready? Never heard of such a thing. I know Arsene is only responding to a question, and doing so honestly, but at the same time it’d be wise to dampen down the hype about The Ox. At least until he actually becomes the best player in the world. Ever.

There’s no doubting the start to his Arsenal career has been very promising though. Despite rather unfairly being chucked on for his debut during the Old Trafford debacle, he’s since shown he knows where the goal is, and if he can work hard on doing the basics right then there’s certainly the makings of a very good player there. I know I’ve said this before but when we’ve seen Cesc and Wilshere come through, looking almost the finished article from day one, there’s often an impatience with other young players who need more time and experience to develop properly.

Physically he looks the part already, there’s no youthful willowyness and/or spidery limbs to be bulked up, so let’s hope that with a run of games, and some good competition with Theo Walcott for a position in the team, he makes good progress this season.

In other news the manager ruled himself out of the running for the England job, saying England should have an English manager. Which is fair enough, but the other thing, of course, is that England already have a manager who has qualified them for the European Championships next summer. It’s funny how all this speculation about who will be next in the job is designed purely and simply to provide an excuse for journalists when England don’t win it.

It’ll be the Italian’s fault. “They took urrrr juuuuubbs“, they’ll cry, overlooking the fact that England’s record in tournaments with English managers doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny at all unless you go back to 1966. Thankfully that almost never happens.

Right, it’s an Arsenal free Saturday but tomorrow, that’s a different story altogether. It’s Sunday for a start. Till then.

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