Choices, Jack’s return + Arsecast 224

Happy Friday the 13th to you.

Of course it’s only unlucky if you’re in certain parts of the world and if you believe in superstition. And the only superstition I believe in these days is the one Stevie Wonder belts out. Still, I hope your evening is filled with all the beautiful things this day brings: escaped lunatics wearing hockey masks and eviscerating people with a chainsaw. Seasons greetings!

Assuming your entrails won’t be all over the pavement later on I suppose we could talk about the football for a bit. Not that there’s much happening yet. Arsene’s press conference later on will tell us a bit more about what to expect ahead of Sunday’s trip to Swansea, but it strikes me the manager only has two decisions to make – who to play at left back and whether or not to start Thierry Henry.

Djourou’s return from suspension means he’ll go back in on the right hand side, the BFG should have recovered from the lurgy which kept him out of Monday’s game, and assuming Thomas Vermaelen isn’t quite ready and won’t be risked ahead of the United game, then there’s only Ignasi Miquel to fill that gap. The Coq is out for for a few weeks with his twanged hammy so the young Spaniard should continue in there.

Up front he’s got three choices to replace Gervinho: Andrei Arshavin (most likely), Thierry Henry (a possibility) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (benchy). There must be a temptation to start Henry having seen the threat he can provide, and Swansea are going to be tough opponents. They’ve only conceded four goals at home all season.

I think he’ll go with Arshavin though. His form is poor but against Leeds there was, at least, real effort from him. Not that that in itself warrants a starting place but a) I don’t think Henry is quite fit enough to start and b) if it is a tight game you want to bring someone off the bench who can make a difference. If we struggle to break down Swansea with Henry starting it means that our options are then limited if we need a player to make a breakthrough.

For me Henry is more likely to make that impact than Arshavin, so for that reason alone I think that’s the way he’ll play it. The other thing is that The Ox certainly showed he’s got the ability to work defences and if he’s coming on to run at a guy who’s been defending for 70 minutes then he may well find the space he needs. Anyway, I’m sure the first question Arsene will be asked at today’s presser is if Thierry will start so we’ll know more later on.

Meanwhile, as Jack Wilshere’s return nears, Aaron Ramsey says he’s looking forward to playing with him:

Jack is a great player for us; he had a really good season last year. It’s only a good thing to have competition for places. We haven’t really had a chance to play together yet in the league. It will be good to have the competition.

Having that extra body in midfield will be a real boost. And it’s not like having Diaby back because with him you’re just counting down to his next injury. Having Wilshere scrapping with the three players who have really formed a good midfield understanding this season will be great news, and while people focus on what a boost Thierry Henry is giving us, I think they’re forgetting the impact a fit, hungry and completely unjaded Wilshere could have on our season.

Such is the way we play at the moment, with our midfielders interchangeable in many ways, that he could find himself further forward, a position he’s more comfortable in and one in which he excelled at youth level. Arsene spoke last season about him playing deep, in a more defensive role, and suggested it was very much part of his footballing eduction. Seeing the game in front of him will allow him to appreciate what needs to be done when he’s further up the pitch.

All we can do is hope there are no complications and knock-on injuries having been out for so long. But with Euro 2012 looming and him having missed so much football (as a player whose enthusiasm for the game is obvious) I think he’s going to be more than eager to make up for lost time.

In other news Kieran Gibbs says he could be back inside 10 days, and whatever your opinion on his brittleness, that’s got to be good news. With Sagna due back by the end of this month (at the latest) the fullback crisis looks like it could be eased.

And it’s not such good news for Wellington who has been given the boot by Levante. His time on loan there has been far from successful. This is his 2nd spell there, under different managers too, so clearly something’s not working out. If it’s his attitude or application I can’t really say but he went there to play football and hasn’t done so. He’s now at 2nd division CD Alcoyano for the rest of the reason, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares.

Bonus reading: Tim Stillman’s latest column – Daddy took their T-birds away.

Finally for today, a quick book update: it was all set to go on sale yesterday until Paypal decided they needed all kinds of documentation/skin samples/proof of the existence of the universe etc, so having provided all that to them I’m now dependent on them to sort out my account. I am looking at alternative payment methods too but in the meantime I’ll just have to wait. Apologies for the delay but it’s out of my hands now. Will update asap.

Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Philippe Auclair to talk about Henry, the mystery of Ju Young Park, Marouane Chamakh and more. Also, with me REDaction who want your help on matchdays and beyond, have a listen for details. Also in there Internet Joe and David O’Leary along with the usual guff.

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 (23mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode224.mp3]

Ok, happy listening. Back tomorrow.

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