Friday, March 31, 2023

Henry, lengthening Coq, loans and more

Morning all.

The dust has settled somewhat after Thierry’s permasmile-inducing return against Leeds the other night, and such was the joy at the goal it’s only now that I’m taking in the fact it’s knocked Leeds out of the cup too. I do enjoy knocking Leeds out of the cup.

Now, however, we have to turn our attention back to the Premier League. We’ve got two away trips this month, to Swansea and Bolton, whilst sandwiched inbetween is Man United. You can take nothing for granted in this league this season but we’ve got to be aiming for 6 away points while then looking for some measure of revenge for what happened at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

The battle for the top four is well and truly on, and Henry believes it can be done, but not without the right attitude. He says:

We obviously don’t want to be out of the top four. There’s going to be a hell of a competition this year to be in it.

But I do think this team has what it takes to be in it, if you think about the way the team has come back from the beginning of the season.

Defeat against Fulham last week was unwelcome, of course, but has to be a game we take lessons from. Leaving aside injuries and form, the lesson is that individual (or collective) errors will be punished in the Premier League. We need to refocus, regroup and ensure we get back on track against a Swansea side that gave us a real game at home.

We’ll have a much rested Robin van Persie back in the fold and the manager will have to decide whether or not Thierry is fit enough to start. I suspect he might be a little cautious with him and the idea of being able to bring Henry off the bench should we need him is probably what he’s looking at. Let him at a defence that will hopefully have been worked hard and then has to face someone of his class for 15-20 minutes, anyway, we will see.

Meanwhile, Francis Coquelin has officially extended his contract with the club, which is fantastic news. He says:

It’s a very big club and I’ve always wanted to succeed here. I’m getting games, I’m training with great players and working with great staff.

Typically, the announcement of his new contract has coincided with a hamstring injury that will rob us of his services for the next 2-3 weeks, but I’m glad we’ve got this sorted out. There were murmurs that he was unhappy at not playing, which I really never have any problem with. He spent all of last season out on loan and played 24 times Lorient so coming back after a taste of first team football and not playing at all will have been frustrating. You’d much rather a player was itching to play than content to be on the bench.

What he’s done, though, is make the most of the chances he’s been given. He looks hungry, sharp, committed and has plenty of technical quality about him as well. His versatility is an asset too. It might well take him some time to end up in the position he really wants to play in but the other side of that is  him getting more games than he might if he were pigeon-holed in one position and one position only. His future looks bright and it’s good that we’ve secured it.

Meanwhile, the search for a left back continues with the Mirror reporting a failed loan bid for Aly Cissokho. It seems Lyon would be prepared to sell, if the price were right, but Wenger is on the record as saying he only wants a loan deal until the end of the season. The big question is ‘who is out there?’

That’s not up to us to find out, obviously, but maybe Wenger might look to a club we’ve had some recent, if not always favourable, dealings with as they might well have a player available who ticks a lot of his favourite boxes. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Beyond that, and Wojciech Szczesny causing a rush for the fainting couches in the press office, there’s not a great deal going on to be honest. I did see a story about Robbie Savage complaining about Leeds fans abusing him and the ESPN presenter on Monday evening, and much as I’m disinclined to defend Leeds fans, if ESPN insist on broadcasting from a pitchside table when there are state-of-the-art facilities in the stadium then it’s hard to feel any sympathy for them at all. It’s like complaining that the tramp down the alley misdignosed your illness when there’s a doctor’s office round the front.

I feel a bit sorry for Martin Keown. Not because of the clip showing his fantastic header but because he’s in a position that must be amongst the most frustrating in the world. Firstly, he’s having to listen to Robbie Savage squawk his half-witted shite to the world but secondly, he’s doing it from within punching distance. However, the nature of his job means he can’t take advantage of this distance to land one squarely on Savage’s ridiculous beak. I think more people should appreciate the job Martin is doing under extremely trying circumstances.

Over on the real ANR, Leopold returns to talk about Thierry before making a detour into the world of literature – The Arsenal express is about to depart.

Finally for today, a book update for you – the reprint will be available from tomorrow afternoon via the Arseblog store. I’ll give you all the details in a blog post then, in the meantime, if you haven’t seen it already, here’s what the book’s about.

Right then, till tomorrow, Savage thumpers.

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