Sunday, December 10, 2023

Interlull: Diaby down, Walcott out, Giroud not an arse grape

Good morning to you.

The internationals take place tonight and as far as I can make out the following Arsenal players will be involved. Santi Cazorla has traveled to the US to take on America’s most soccer loving state Georgia, Aaron Ramsey plays for Wales against Serbia, our two Germans face Austria, Koscielny and Giroud are in the French squad but not definite starters, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is with England, Djourou is away with Switzerland, Fabianski with Poland while skipper Thomas Vermaelen will play for Belgium against Croatia.

There are two absences from the players who have gone away. Firstly, Theo Walcott withdrew from the England squad after he picked up a dose of the green apple splatters, while Abou Diaby is out of the French squad. Depending on what you read it’s either sensible and precautionary or the beginning of the end of Diaby’s career. According to Didier Deschamps:

He felt a bit of muscle pain in training. He knows his body well, all the players do, but maybe he knows his a little bit more given all the problems he’s had before. He’s not moving freely in his body.

Now, Deschamps also said he picked up a little knock in the game against Finland so his problem might well be down to that, rather than any recurrence of previous problems. But it’s natural that when you hear the word ‘injury’ mentioned alongside the name ‘Abou Diaby’ you tend to fear the worst. And I do have to question whether or not it was in his best interests to call him up for these internationals.

Normally my focus is on Arsenal and what’s best for us (which would be none of our players going anywhere and sitting in a cotton wool room in giant inflatable sumo suits to protect them from everything), but was it really the most sensible thing to call up a guy who spent almost an entire season out of the game and had yet to prove his medium-term, let alone long-term, fitness?

Arsene Wenger expressed his doubts before the Interlull and while we all accept France have games to win and the manager is entitled to call up who he wants, allowing Diaby more time to build a platform of fitness might have been the more pragmatic approach. Anyway, let’s hope it’s just precautionary more than amputate-y but his participation in this weekend’s game against Southampton is surely now in doubt. We’ll have to wait until later in the week to find out for sure though.

Meanwhile, it seems you can’t move for articles about Olivier Giroud which mention ‘time’ and ‘patience’ and ‘pressure’. I know modern football is a world of instant gratification. Do something good once and you’re awesome. Don’t do anything good for a game or two and you are an impacted hemorrhoid on the ruptured arse of an alcoholic Kevin Keegan impersonator. Such is life. Such is football.

It has only been three games during which we’ve seen some good things from the Frenchman. His movement, as pointed out in this week’s tactics column, his work-rate, his hold up play has been pretty good in the two games he’s started when you consider the fact he’s battled two large centre-halves in each one, but his finishing hasn’t been quite up to scratch. Perhaps it’s inevitable that people will draw comparisons with the the skunk-headed Dutchman but having to constantly field those questions must just add to the pressure he’s feeling.

Many have already pointed to the fact that both Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry opened their Arsenal accounts against Southampton, and it wouldn’t be beyond the scope of football’s weirdness that Giroud does the same on Saturday. In the meantime though, going three games without a goal (even if you miss a couple of chances) is hardly the end of the world, so let’s try and stay in the world of reality and not in the Preparation-H domain in which the headlines are drawn.

Aside from that it’s deathly quiet so let’s keep fingers crossed that those away come back intact and in fine fettle so we can concentrate on the real football which returns this weekend and then into midweek as the Champions League, and all the extra demands that places on the squad, kicks off in midweek. And speaking of Southampton, if you fancy winning one of two pairs of tickets for the game check out the competition here in association with Thomas Cook Sports. You have until tonight to get your entries in, winners announced tomorrow morning.

For extra morning reading, here’s a Q&A by Tim Stillman featuring Arsenal’s Head of Marketing, Tom Fox, and Communications Director Mark Gonnella.

Finally for today, I’ll leave you with this from Arsenal youngster Conor Henderson who was away with Ireland U21s. He revealed that Arsene Wenger blocked a loan move away from the club before the transfer window closed, perhaps this is why.

Till tomorrow.


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