Team news, AW on contract and Sagna + Arsecast 247

Hello and welcome to Friday, football is back tomorrow and there’s news galore. Mostly because Arsene held his pre-match press conference yesterday rather than today, so we have plenty to talk about.

Team news can wait until tomorrow for the most part but it does look as if Abou Diaby is the only casualty of the Interlull and even then his problem is quite minor. In fact, the manager said that he could actually play tomorrow but is unlikely to do so because they don’t want to take any risks with a player whose injury record is a quadruple album with a bonus 10″ picture disc [a what with a bonus what? Ask yer parents].

It’s a sensible move, not just because we’ve got a Champions League fixture in midweek and a trip to the Middle Eastlands next weekend, but because Southampton are a team we ought to be able to beat without Abou Diaby and it’ll give the manager a chance to rotate a little bit. There are other issues he has to think on, with Szczesny back does he come straight back into the side and does he change the make up of a back four which has kept three clean sheets? As I said, we’ll ponder those in more depth tomorrow.

As you would expect, Arsene was asked about a new contract in the light of the interview given yesterday by Ivan Gazidis in which he suggested a new deal was in the offing for the boss. Also as you would expect, he played it down very quickly, saying:

I have two years to go. What is important for me is Southampton and I think I have shown my commitment to this club in the past. At the moment I am not in the mood to think about the long-term future. We want to do well this season, that’s all.

Given that his contract runs until 2014 it’s really not a pressing issue and as I said yesterday I found it a bit odd that Ivan would go so public on this just three games into a new season. Perhaps he was just answering a question but the fact that Arsene has so publicly and quickly squashed any talk of a new deal – and he made it quite clear no discussions had taken place – does make you think there’s been a level of miscommunication here.

On today’s Arsecast the ‘Holic suggests that these are just the opening salvos of a negotiation process, and I can see where he’s coming from, but to have the Chief Executive say one thing, only for the manager to say something completely different, within hours, would make you wonder. That said, it’s hardly the most outrageous thing to suggest that the club want to keep Arsene, nor is the manager’s reluctance to talk about something that can, and probably will, be dealt with behind the scenes where it belongs. In the meantime we move on.

The boss was also asked about Bacary Sagna’s recent comments in which he said he understood fan frustration at seeing players like van Persie and Song leave and that there had been no talk of a new deal for him. The issue isn’t so much with what Sagna said but the fact it was made public and the manager was quite forthright about that, saying:

I believe any player or any employee has to defend the company he works for and if he’s not completely happy with it he has to go somewhere else. That’s basically what I think. This is what I tell everybody.

And while many will suggest it’s directed solely at Sagna, I think it’s more of a reminder to all his players about what’s expected from them. Nobody is asking them to blindly accept decisions which even they find odd and frustrating, but perhaps their concerns are best aired in private rather than in a manner which spawns countless headlines and news stories. And while I’d share Sagna’s concerns, like many, I can also see why the manager would prefer to keep things in-house and present a united front.

However, Arsene then got out his love measuring machine and declared that Sagna has got an unspecified amount of it for the club, is committed and that a new deal would be discussed:

I expect him to stay and I want him to stay because the interview doesn’t reflect at all what he thinks about the club and the love he has for this club.

When he is on the football pitch Bacary Sagna has always shown total commitment to the team and the club and that is for me much more important than a little bit of a twisted article in a newspaper.

We can debate and discuss the levels of twistedness all we want but Arsene is spot on about Sagna. He’s a player who gives 100% in every game and for me is the best right back in the league when he’s fit. I’m sure concerns he might have will be eased with good performances and good results, and let’s hope he’s back in the side soon to be able to contribute to that.

Right then, as it’s Friday it’s time for the Arsecast, and this week I’m joined by Goonerholic and Andrew Allen to discuss Gazidis, Wenger, team changes with Southampton and Montpellier in short order, and the various other bits and pieces that have gone on. Also in there is Amaury Bishcoff PI and this week there is no end bit. Blame the Interlull.

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 (22mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode247.mp3]

So there you go, have yourselves a good Friday, news throughout the day on Arseblog News (follow on Twitter here for instant notifications) and I’ll be back tomorrow to preview the Southampton game as football, real football, returns.

Till then.

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