Monday, January 24, 2022

Walcott’s back, Cazorla’s smart + Arsecast 293 with Danny Karbassiyoon

It’s Friday, and we can start looking ahead to the football at last. It seems like an age since the United game, there’s still that itch that hasn’t been scratched as we look to put things right after Old Trafford.

There’s good news in terms of our options this weekend with Theo Walcott back in the squad. From what the manager says it seems like he’ll be used from the bench but his pace is something we’ve missed at times, and the sooner we get him back up to speed (no pun etc) the better.

Other than that Lukas Podolski is still three weeks away, apparently, which realistically means he’s another few weeks beyond that to get back to match sharpness. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ‘at least’ a month, but fears that Jack Wilshere had been knackered on England duty were dismissed by the boss who said those reports were inaccurate.

I guess it’s just part and parcel of the Wilshere narrative. If any other footballer got a kick during a game, it’s not a story, but because it’s Jack, and because there’s such concern over his fitness, it’s easy to make the jump if you’re that way inclined. It was amusing to see Jack counter the claims himself on Twitter though.

Meanwhile, in a fantastic interview in The Guardian with Sid Lowe, Santi Cazorla makes a very interesting observation about Arsene Wenger. Having talked the other day about how the team have matured, he says of the manager:

The manager is more concienciado, more concentrated, more conscious. He’s more demanding, it’s been a long time without winning anything and he’s determined. In terms of not committing mistakes, he’s more on top of us. He knows last year we lost too many points. It could be that [the pressure in the summer] might have helped; it might have done the club good.

I wonder if the fact that Arsene realises this group of players have a genuine chance of the title is what’s made the difference. With the best will in the world – and this is not to overlook the fact he’s the man that put the various teams together – you’re not going to win things with some of the players we’ve had over the last few seasons. There’s been fantastic talent but too many weak links.

Now, it’s hard to look at the current team, and the options we have from the bench, and feel the same way. We’re not reliant on injury prone players staying fit, we can cope with knocks and absences in pretty much every area of the park, and we’ve gotten rid of the players who were to mental strength what that Titanic was to successfully crossing the Atlantic. This current crop are mature, hungry and possess real quality, and if the manager is pushing them further and demanding more of them it’s because he knows he can have a good go at winning something.

Cazorla points to the signing of Mesut Ozil as the moment things changed. Not just for the fans, but also for the players:

People want that run to end. They were excited, agitated: they wanted signings, a genuine chance of fighting for the title. And with the signing of Mesut optimism returned. The players got a lift too, the mentality changed. We felt like we had closed the gap.

As noted during last summer it was increasingly obvious that the players themselves were as desperate for new faces as the fans. Numerous times we heard from them talking about how they wanted the club to bring in new players to help them compete. They knew as well as anyone they needed more in the squad to do that. And their response to that happening has, bar the opening day of the season, been emphatic.

We sit top of the table, we’re playing as well as we have in years and there is genuine belief that we can challenge this season. It’s often a very fine line between challenging and winning, but it’s far preferable to peering into the distance to see who’s going to cross the line first. It’s also why I liked Santi’s observations on the Man Utd game and the difference between the two sides in less than 12 months.

Last year we lost 2-1 but they rolled over us. This year’s different.

And it is, no question about it. Anyway, it’s a fantastic read, and given the fact he’s been out of the team for a while this season, you feel like there’s a lot more to come from Santi, and that is a tasty prospect to say the least.

Elsewhere, Tim Stillman talks about Arsenal tradition in this week’s column, as the club announce a new partner who will provide the players with their rather smart match day suits. And I think we ought to win headline of the week for this one, but I could be biased.

Right then, on to this week’s Arsecast and as there was little actual Arsenal news to discuss, I’ve got something a bit different this week. In quite a lengthy interview I talk to former Gunner Danny Karbassiyoon about how a young man from Virginia ends up catching the eye of Arsenal and joining the club. What’s it like to walk onto a training pitch with Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Co? How does it feel to score your first senior goal? And the frustration of having to retire at such a young age because of injury. It’s a great chat, hope you enjoy it.

As well as that we’ve got winners and goodies from our friends at Savile Rogue, and remember, if you want to avail of the whopping 10% discount at check-out, use the code ARSEBLOG13. It’s getting cold, you need to wrap yourself up in Savile Rogue warmth.

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 30mb 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. And check out Danny’s football site, Soccer Without Limits (SWOL).

Right, we’ll have press conference updates and news over on Arseblog News, more here tomorrow.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast