Wednesday, September 27, 2023

AW interview + early Dortmund thoughts

Morning all.

We’ll turn our attentions to the Champions League shortly with a huge game against Borussia Dortmund to come tomorrow but first, if you haven’t seen it already, you can find the full transcript of Arsene Wenger’s L’Equipe interview over on Arseblog News. It provides some context to the selected quotes which first appeared and is a fantastic read overall.

I mean, you can see why certain sections were used and on their own they were easy to interpret in a certain way, but when you read everything he’s got to say you can get a real sense of the man. He’s clearly stung by certain things but at the same time when he talks about the pride he has in the club and the way he’s obviously changed his approach this season it’s fascinating stuff.

That there are still stories about Wenger quitting and even talk of possible replacements in some newspapers this morning gives you a good indication of how certain sections of the press works. Forget facts, ignore what’s actually said, we’ll twist it to fit our story. Anyway, it’s well worth a few minutes to give it a full read and thanks to @mattspiro for taking the time to provide the translation. You should give him a follow on Twitter.

Tomorrow night sees the Champions League action and what is going to be a tough game against Dortmund. They come into this game on the back of a great win over Bayern Munich at the weekend and will be full of confidence for that. It’s worth remembering that while their equaliser in the game in Germany came very late, they had pretty much dominated the game. They had brilliant chances in the first half, which they failed to take, and the Arsenal defence were thoroughly tested in the second.

It was a test they stood up to pretty well though and it was the quality of the Perisic’s strike which got them a point, but Arsenal have come a long way since that game too. If we win tomorrow night and Marseille fail to beat Olympiacos then we’ll finish top of the group. There’s still an element of chance when it comes to the knock-out draw but last season failing to top our group meant we had to play the Cesc robbers much earlier than we’d have liked.

Of course that draw provided one of the highlights of the season, the game at the Grove was something special and but for TGSTEL missing that chance late in the away leg we might have gone through. Still, the aim has to be to finish to to get an easier draw and three points tomorrow night would go a long way to helping us achieve that.

There’s been much speculation that we’ve been scouting Dortmund’s Mario Gotze in recent weeks, even this morning there are stories of us making a £30m move in January, but I reckon even if we have had more than half an eye on him our scouts have been watching the German side because of this game rather than a possible transfer move for one particular player.

There’ll be a pre-game press conference today in which we’ll get all the team news. I suspect if the manager is going to rotate his squad in any way this week it’ll wait until Saturday’s game against Fulham and we’ll see the strongest possible XI out tomorrow night. More on that game tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Theo Walcott has been talking up his partnership with Robin van Persie. All his assist are belong to van Persie, and Theo says:

Over the past few years I have had my injuries and he has had his so we have not been able to sustain a run of games together. But this year you can see signs that we just know where each other is going to be on the pitch. To be honest it makes it is easier for both of us. Robin is one of the best strikers in the world right now and a great leader too.

They really do seem to have a good connection and whether that’s down to Theo improving his final ball, Robin having the ability to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, or something somewhere in the middle it’s hard to say. But sometimes you find players just work well together and clearly there’s something about the way both of them play that makes it come kind of naturally. Long may it last (in red and white – and no, I can’t see them both being transferred to Stoke).

I was on the Arsenal Fans Forum last night with Tom Watt and Amy Lawrence and there was a lot of talk about Per Mertesacker following his ungainly mistake against Norwich. I know we live in a world where judgements are made in an instant and while I recognise he’s still got some work to do to be fully convincing, surely Arsenal fans have seen players over the last few years who were written off too soon and came back to prove people wrong.

Personally I think he’s going to be a valuable asset as the season progresses and he settles in more but then I also loved Senderos so you can feel free to ignore anything I say about centre-halves.In seriousness though, you don’t play 80 times (or thereabouts) for Germany without being more than capable as a defender and I think he just needs a bit more time to adapt to the English game.

Other than that not a great deal going on. Keep up with the day’s events on Arseblog News (press conference stuff and anything else throughout the day), and if you fancy winning a pair of tickets to Saturday’s game against Fulham – with thanks to Thomas Cook Sports – just click here and answer the fairly simple question. Entries have to be in by Weds and because the tickets need to be posted out it is a competition open to UK residents only.

Right, that’s that. Till tomorrow.

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