Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you.
Starting with team news ahead of Monday’s game against Villa. It’s OUT for Aaron Ramsey as his calf strain isn’t better and OUT for Thomas Vermaelen whose bockety knee is still playing up. Kieran Gibbs has a chance while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back back back with Arsene Wenger saying, “I wouldn’t have any hesitation on playing him against Aston Villa.”
That’s good news, but it’s also struck me as a little curious, especially in light of his comments about Lukas Podolski. The manager has, once again, talked up his qualities in public but admitted there’s still an issue with his fitness. He said:
Podolski is in the position of Chamberlain. He has been out for four months and after being available, it doesn’t mean you are competitive in the Premier League. I believe when you are a football player, you can always improve. He’s working hard at the moment and he’s a fantastic finisher. When he is physically ready, he will of course help us. He can play that central role when he’s completely fit.
Maybe I’m seeing something that’s not there, but saying he’d have no hesitation in playing the Ox against Villa contrasts quite sharply with his reluctance to use Podolski against Sp*rs in the FA Cup. Even if he’s put them in the same post-injury category.
To clarify: the question about Oxlade-Chamberlain was more about facing Villa again, rather than his fitness, but I’m still not sure there isn’t something going on with Podolski.
The England man has been back in full training less than a week and the manager is happy to use him, Podolski has been in full training for over a month now and there’s still a reluctance on the manager’s part to give him game time. Again, it might just be me, but after the comments in October, and now this, I get the sense Arsene is looking for more from the German.
He’s certainly got the ability to play a big role in the second half of the season, and even with a disrupted campaign last time around he got 16 goals and 11 assists. With Walcott gone we do need players to pick up the slack and he can be one of them. He’s got the goal threat and the quality of delivery to make chances for others, so maybe this is just Arsene putting it up to him to perform. Let’s hope he responds.
Meanwhile, there’s good news regarding Thomas Rosicky and his future. Out of contract in June and with lots of offers despite his 33 years, Arsene Wenger believes the Czech will sign on with us once again:
Tomas Rosicky will stay here at the end of the season. He is a marvelous player and contributes well to the team. He is certainly a typical Arsenal player in the way that he is mobile, technically sound and team orientated.
Although nothing has been yet made official, it’s very encouraging, and all we need to do now is lure him into the contract signing dungeon to make it happen.
It’s a good start. Let’s now get Bacary Sagna signed up, come on, he doesn’t really want to go and play for Galatasaray, and let’s give Per that BFC, and we’re consolidating well ahead of next season. Not to mention the boost it would give for this one.
In exciting transfer news, there are reports that we’ve had a bid for Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann rejected. He’s having a cracking season in La Liga, with 12 goals from 16 games, and his youthful Frenchosity seems vaguely familiar to me for some reason.
It’s also fairly standard Arsene to try and buy a player in a position everyone thinks we’re well covered in instead of the one position in which everyone wants him to splash out. You want a centre-half? Pah, take this diminutive, somewhat pudgy Russian playmaker instead. And, in fairness, it tends to work out, at least in the short term.
How far we follow this one up remains to be seen, but with Arsene flat-out denying any negotiations with Real Madrid for Alvara Morata, not to mention the player saying he wants to stay there and Ancelotti saying he’s happy to have him, that seems like something of a dead end.
Anyway, nothing’s gonna happen before Monday so we ought to remain focused on the players we do have, and those almost ready to return, and hopefully something on top of that would be a nice bonus.
Right, that’s that, have a good Saturday, and here’s to everyone we want to lose falling short today and tomorrow.