Full crocks + Arsecast 216

Ok, here we go again!

We’ll start this morning with some team news ahead of the Norwich game and there’s bad news for two young full backs. Kieran Gibbs has a hernia and Arsene explains:

He looks like he will be out for between four and five weeks. At first he had an abdominal strain, certainly caused by the fact that he had a hernia already. When the strain was healed we discovered that he had a hernia. We had a fear that could be behind it so we decided to do the surgery.

A hernia, while annoying is certainly a fairly routine thing to deal with. However, the injury which rules out Carl Jenkinson sounds a bit more worrying:

Carl has a stress fracture in his back. We found a small stress fracture that we noticed at an early stage. If he continued to play it could have got worse and then he could be out for a long time. So at the moment the specialist has decided to rest him.

Hopefully rest will do the job but given there’s no time frame being put on his return it’s one of those we’re going to have to play by ear. It’s really unfortunate timing for the young man. With Sagna out he had a real chance to get a run of games under his belt and continue his development but obviously that’s going to be put on hold for a while. The new Arsenal medical centre will show its worth now.

It might even be doing that already with some reports saying Jack Wilshere is ahead of schedule with his injury but I suspect it’s probably best to err on the side of the caution and not raise expectation levels. If he goes from being ahead of schedule back to plain old on schedule the grief would be palpable.

So the boss has to decide who to play at right back. I suspect it’ll be Djourou although, as speculated on in today’s Arsecast, his centre-half dilemma could be solved by giving Koscielny a run there. And the Frenchman has already said he fancies it, so that’s certainly an option.

Meanwhile, Abou Diaby has returned to full training but is still some weeks away from first team contention. Having spent so long out injured he’s really going to have to work hard on fitness and sharpness before he can be considered. Maybe the Carling Cup game against Man City might be a way of getting him some minutes but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Marouane Chamakh is back after a little knee problem and other than that everyone is fit and ready after the Interlull.

We’re on our travels this weekend and while Chelsea was a fantastic win it was also our first away league win of the season. The manager knows we’ve got to be better away from home, saying:

For a long time we were questioned on our away potential and we responded to that well at Chelsea. We have to do that again to show that we can be consistent away from home. We know now that we can win away from home and we have another opportunity to show that.

And on regrouping and refocusing, he says:

Until February the players can focus fully on the achievements of the Club. We need to be professional and be able to focus quickly on what matters for us.

We’re now heading into a period when three games per week is going to be the norm and it means we’re going to need the whole squad to do their bit. While there might well be an emerging ‘first XI’, with long away trips in Europe, Carling Cup action, and a busy league schedule we’re going to have to use the full depth of the squad. Arsene is already talking about rotating, to keep players fresh etc, so those on the fringes really need to step up and do the business when called upon.

Tomorrow’s game against Norwich will be tough. I remember watching them play United at Old Trafford earlier in the season and only for some of the most ghastly finishing you’ve ever seen they would have won that game easily. So underestimating them simply because they’re a newly promoted team would be true folly. I hope, however, that recent events in seasons past, and the injection of real experience into the squad, means that there will be no such deficit of character tomorrow.

We’ll get more on that game as Arsene faces the press early this morning at the training ground, so updates and further news throughout the day over on Arseblog News.

So, time for this week’s Arsecast and joining me to shoot the breeze is GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog. On the agenda, all that Arsenal stuff that happened in the last week, strikers, Sepp Blatter and more. I’ll give you the winner of the t-shirt competition from the last ‘cast as well as giving you a chance of winning a fantastic Savile Rogue scarf (the new vertical scarf is magic – I almost want it to get cold so I can get the full benefit. I said ‘almost’).

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (20mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode216.mp3]

So, that’s yer lot, have a good Friday, back tomorrow along with the football. The real, proper football. Hurrah!

ps – Winners of the Robin van Persie 100 goals DVD, those few who managed to get the question right, are Pratik Vinayaka – Mark Josen – George Scullion – James Reihill and Kelly Bryon. Well done, I’ll be in touch to get your info.

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