Gibbs – Santos – Diaby – Ox + Arsecast 232

The Arsecast, Arsenal podcast

Happy Friday to you all. Normally today we’d be all giddy and excited with the football about to be thrust upon us at the weekend, but we have a Saturday and Sunday free of Arsenal.

And as I said yesterday, as much as Monday night football irritates me I’m kinda glad we’ve got a bit of extra rest after Tuesday night. They’ll be back in today getting tired legs and muscles rubbed down, and those aches and strains tended to.

The boss says that there aren’t any serious concerns after Tuesday night but still a few bumps and bruises along the way. We should have Arteta and Ramsey back, Theo has a sore hip after being van Bommeled, while Kieran Gibbs is clearly being nursed through games as the boss has referenced his groin problem again. It may well be just the after effects of the initial injury he had rather than a recurrence, so fingers crossed he’s all right.

Is it worth noting that the recent good results have come about when we’ve had proper full backs, adding balance to the team? Perhaps it’s not a huge factor but it’d be fair to say it hasn’t hurt and Gibbs has done well since his return to the team. There’s also good news regarding Andre Santos who is back in full training but, maybe, not quite ready for first action again. The boss says:

He is back in full training on Friday. He is certainly short [for Monday] because he has not played for four months but I do not really know yet, it is a decision I have to make. We will see first how Gibbs is.

And speaking of injured players, Abou Diaby has gone some way to try and explain his problems, dismissing suggestions that he is ‘fragile’.

People stick this ‘fragile’ label on me. I understand their point of view, but I’m not.

I’ve had three operations on the ankle during my career. After that, my body was totally unbalanced between my left and right leg. One leg compensated for the weakness of the other – and to put back in its place is not easy.

My problem is biomechanical. It will take some time. When everything is back in order, I won’t have pain anymore.

I have great sympathy for Diaby. When you hear Bacary Sagna talk about how he could be the best French player around if it weren’t for his injuries you do wonder how much we’ve lost due to his continued absences. However, while his explanation does make sense, and I think everyone knows his injury problems all stem from that horrendous challenge which took place over 6 years ago now, it has made him fragile.

That’s not to criticise but what other way can you describe someone who comes back and lasts only 28 minutes before another part of their body gives way because of these ‘biomechanical’ problem? I think we’d all like to see a fit and healthy Abou Diaby because he does offer us something none of our other central midfielders do, but I don’t think even the most optimistic gambler would put much money on him being able to play game after game after game, which is what’s needed at this level.

Not just from the point of view of the team but for any player to find their best form, to play with confidence etc, they have to play consecutive games. Or at least regularly. A few minutes here and there isn’t worth much to anyone. I think he’s got a lot to prove over his future because in the era of the limited squad, going through another season with a guy who never plays isn’t the most efficient use of our resources.

The boss, meanwhile, has spoken about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and says that in the future his role will be that of a central midfielder. Given our current system you would have to say he’d be a great fit for the role that Rosicky is currently playing, the most forward in a midfield trio. His natural attacking instincts and his willingness and ability to shoot from distance means he’d suit that position perfectly.

Arsene wants him to develop properly as a player first though, and says he’s going to have to play where needed. Thus far he’s been deployed on the flanks, where he’s impressed so much that Wenger felt ok with letting Arshavin go, and while he did impress against Milan on Tuesday there’s still a long way to go for him to get used to that position, and the physical demands it imposes. On top of that, the boss is trying to play down the hype a bit. There has been, and will continue to be all kinds of coverage for an outstanding English talent, especially ahead of Euro 2012, but Wenger says:

You are not a star after five or 10 games, let’s let him play 100 times and then we will talk again.

Love it. And while some might say it’s a message to the player himself he seems well grounded, with good people around him to keep him on track, and if there is an element of that message directed at The Ox, the rest is surely aimed squarely at the media who do love a bit of hype about young English players.

Elsewhere, SZCZ joins the love-in for Tomas Rosicky who is close to finalising a one year contract extension with the club. I’m for it and while the cynical will say that this is reward for a few good games, the decision will have been based on a lot more than that. Keep scoring, Tommy.

Right then, on to this week’s Arsecast, and on top of the usual guff, I’m joined to discuss AC Milan, Robin van Persie and more, by Paolo Bandini from The Guardian.

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.


News throughout the day on Arseblog News but that’s about that for today. Back tomorrow with a relaxed Saturday round-up.


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