Early City news and Szczesny talks defensive change

Morning all,

another week, another two games on the horizon and the football world is in a strange place after yesterday’s news about Gary Speed. I really don’t have much to say about it other than to hope his family and loved ones manage to cope with such an awful situation. Speculation about why it happened isn’t helpful at all and the public’s ghoulish fascination with celebrity death is something which distrurbs me greatly.

How can you not be disturbed when people use the death of young man (I know as you get older the qualifcation for ‘young’ is quite liquid) to try and get themselves more followers on Twitter by setting up a fake account pretending to be an Arsenal player? Or a major newspaper launching a ‘Gary Speed suicide’ live blog? Do we really need close-up pictures of Shay Given in tears? I just can’t get my head around that kind of thing at all.

The bottom line is a 42 year old man died, that’s no age at all, and in a football world where you wouldn’t give tuppence about most of the people in it, Gary Speed seemed like a good guy, and the tributes reflected that. I hope his family get the privacy and respect they deserve at a time like this but I fear they won’t. Which just makes the whole thing even more sad.

Meanwhile, the world keeps on turning, as it does, and as I said we’ve got two games coming up this week. Tomorrow night we face Manchester City in the Carling Cup and there will obviously be changes made. Arsene says that certain players are ‘on the edge’ after the current schedule:

We have a few players on the edge like van Persie, of course, and Walcott, who had a hamstring alert and Ramsey as well. We’ll see how they respond to 24 hours’ rest. Walcott’s hamstring was picked up during the game but he should be OK.

And on the possible team for tomorrow night:

We have to consider the injuries we have. We have red alerts on a few players. It will be easier for you to pick the Man City team because you can look in the stand and on the bench and you will see who plays on Tuesday.

I think if we were playing any other team than Man City the selection would be easy. Pretty much any first-teamer that hasn’t played in recent weeks gets a start and then we throw in a couple of kids to make up the difference. However, as City’s bench probably cost more than our first team their squad depth means he might have to use one or two to provide some balance.

Who they might be we can leave until tomorrow’s blog, but for those left out it’s a chance to recuperate for the week. To rest and get patched up. One of the things I noticed when I was given that tour of the new medical centre was a list on a whiteboard in the doctor’s office which had players who weren’t officially injured but who were carrying little aches and niggles which needed to be managed.

There were 6-7 players on it when I was there and I’d imagine that’s fairly normal. Anyone who is on that list today is unlikely to play tomorrow. Anyway, we can look more at that game, and who we might pick to face $amir Na$ri and co in tomorrow’s blog.

In other news Wojciech Szczesny has revealed that the 8-2 at Old Trafford brought about some changes at the training ground. Speaking to The Times yesterday, he said:

We always used to train as a whole team. When we did attacking it was as a whole team and defending was the same. Now we’re split into groups and the defence works separately, under Pat Rice. We know our jobs and communicate better.

Which is interesting in that it’s a very obvious change and, perhaps, an illustration that the manager and his staff realised they needed to react. What’s even more interesting is that this change of separating the team during training has made the team a better defensive unit overall. You just have to see how players are working hard and tracking back from forward positions to ensure defensive solidity. I wouldn’t call that game a blessing in disguise or anything but it’s good to see that we’ve taken steps to try and rectify things.

And SZCZ is another who says the signings made late in the transfer window have helped:

The manager bought players who have brought back the spirit to the dressing room. I think when we went to Old Trafford, we didn’t actually believe we could win. Now, we’ve signed Arteta, Yossi , Mertesacker, who have played at the top for a long time and that’s made a difference.

After Saturday’s match it was put to Arsene Wenger that earlier in the season the Fulham game was one we might have lost, going behind with not a great deal of time to go and he agreed. I wouldn’t disagree with that either, it’s not long ago that every little thing that went wrong felt like a hammer blow from which we reeled around punch-drunk, so the experience and maturity these guys have added to the side is very welcome indeed.

We seem much more able to cope with little setbacks, realising that they are only little, and can be dealt with. I do hope that the younger players in the squad are learning as much as they can from these guys. Mertesacker, for example, is the super-pro, everything he can do to make himself better, fitter, more available, he does, and it’d be good if those with potential were doing that (and not, perhaps, entering into slagging matches with fans of other teams on Twitter when they still haven’t proved themselves at first team level).

And that’s about that for this morning, a very busy day ahead. I’ve got to check on the progress of the books ahead of next week’s launch at The Tollington – to which you’re all very welcome. I’ll give you more info on that in the next few days.

Back tomorrow with a full preview of the Carling Cup – news throughout the day on Arseblog News. And remember, you can follow Arseblog on Facebook and Twitter – and if your workplace is one of those nasty ones who limit Internet access, you can Arseblog slammed into your box each morning by joining the Mailing List.

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