Morning, welcome to Friday and the return of Premier League action is just around the corner.
Early team news ahead of tomorrow’s game is that Mesut Ozil is expected to be ready, Bacary Sagna is at 80% after a hamstring strain and will face a test, Theo Walcott is still a couple of weeks away, Rosicky is fit, and Cazorla is in full training again.
Whether he starts or not remains to be seen. Arsene Wenger says:
Cazorla is available in training but he is not match-fit. It is just about competitiveness with him.
Which would lead you to believe he’ll find a place on the bench and give him a run-out in the second half. As exciting as it is to think of him back in the side alongside Ozil, a little caution is required I guess, especially as the fixtures are stacking up big time in the next couple of weeks.
I don’t think it’ll take him long to be fully fit again though. He’s a robust sort of chap and although his physique dictates he’ll be one of ‘those’ Spanish men as he ages (pants just below the nipples, hat, the end of a cigar sticking out of his mouth as he walks his dog which has a wicked Springsteen-esque underbite), I reckon that sturdiness will serve him well as he makes his return.
We’ll get more from the boss as he meets the press later this morning, let’s hope there are no other surprises in terms of the team and who’s available for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the AGM took place yesterday and after last season’s dramatics it was a much less raucous affair. Partly because the club took steps to ensure that, with questions displayed on a big screen – presumably so a person holding a microphone couldn’t go off on one if they felt like it. But also because the mood around the place is markedly different.
Like any big organisation there are issues and concerns, but when you’re sitting top of the league, having spent £42.5m on one of the best midfielders in the world, things tend to be a lot less contentious than when you’re fire fighting early in the season having sold one of the best strikers around and seemingly stuck in a rut that looks increasingly difficult to get out of.
There was some stuff from Stan Kroenke, new Chairman Sir Chips did his thing, Ivan Gazidis got off a few good ones (one in particular), and Arsene Wenger gave his usual polished speech. Even in the bad times the manager had the ability to calm stormy waters to a certain extent, so it must have been nice for him to face a crowd that was more sated than baying.
He spoke about the club’s policy, the ambitions for the season ahead and called for continued support after admitting he understood why the relationships were strained last season:
We will need your support and we had some moments where at the Emirates we did not always feel that, but I can understand that, because it is up to us to give you the belief and it is not for you to give us the belief.
It’s something that works both ways though. Last season, on top of the ones that came before, it was difficult to understand the way we operated at times. Now, it’s impossible not to see that things have changed somewhat. We’ve obliterated our transfer record, shown that when we’ve got the chance to spend the money we will, and hopefully this is the path we’ll stay on in the future.
There was an interesting turn of phrase too when he welcomed the new Chairman, saying:
I would also like to wish well to Mr Chips Keswick and I hope we will have a great time together in the coming months.
Should we read something into that? The manager’s contract situation was not brought up at all yesterday and I’m sure there must have been pre-submitted questions about it. Is that a hint of what’s to come; a slip of the tongue, or Arsene playing things down until there’s something to announce? In any case, it’s one that will become obvious over time, one way or the other.
Now then, onto this week’s Arsecast and to discuss the AGM I’m joined by David Ornstein of the BBC, while Philippe Auclair pops in to discuss the football, Giroud’s fine season, and all the other bits and pieces as we sit top of the table. There’s some Talkshite Radio and 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 24mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.
The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android.
Reminder: if you want to attend the event this evening at which Philippe will be appearing alongside Paddy Barclay and others, here’s the link with details and tickets.
Press conference updates and more throughout the day on Arseblog News, more here tomorrow.