Midfield balance, Rosicky absence + Arsecast 357

Arsecast - the Arsenal podcast

Good morning and happy Friday to you. Press conference today, a chance to get a bit more info from the manager ahead of Sunday’s game against Palace, and perhaps some more reasoned thoughts about last week other than the nonsensical idea that we were ‘nervous’.

I guess those questions will come at some point after Arsene Wenger is quizzed about the whole Chelsea doctor, Mourinho being utterly despicable situation. As sure as night follows day they’ll try and get him to say something about so they can go to Mourinho’s press conference later with an ‘Arsene Wenger said …’ snippet.

From our point of view the early team news is that Alexis is ‘ready to play’ according to the boss, and if Alexis is ready to play then Alexis plays. Your guess is as good as mine as to who might miss out from the midfield that struggled against West Ham. Could he revert to the Coquelin/Cazorla thing that worked so well last season? Will Ramsey make way, or be asked to play from the right at the expense of Oxlade-Chamberlain?

It’s just not clear what he’s going to do, mostly because it’s not obvious what our best midfield is. Tim Stillman has a look here at the onus and responsibility on Ramsey, and Mesut Ozil, to perform and contribute having agitated to play in their favoured central positions, but the challenge for the manager isn’t just about how to get the best from individuals, it’s how to create a system so that the best from those individuals ensures we get also the best from the team.

It always felt as if Coquelin and Cazorla was a short-term thing. It worked last season but it wasn’t what he quite wanted. The shifting of Santi, and bringing Ramsey back into the middle, suggests that’s what he’s more keen on – and to be fair it worked quite well against Chelsea. Maybe we’re judging it all a bit too harshly on the basis of one game. However, the return of Alexis adds that element of ‘wildcard’ our play, something we haven’t had in pre-season, so it’s a question of looking at the knock-on effects of his reintroduction and the best way to deal with that.

Elsewhere, the news that Tomas Rosicky’s knee injury is going to keep him out for longer than the 1-2 months mooted by his agent is eye-rollingly familiar. Wenger extended his deal because he obviously feels he can still contribute something on the pitch and, I’m guessing, in the dressing room too. However, the irregularity of his availability is a problem that has plagued his Arsenal career and even when fully fit last season he was a peripheral figure.

Now, with a three month injury absence, plus the time it takes to get match fit etc, it’s difficult to see him making any meaningful contribution before the new year. If there is an upside, it does appear as if the manager has decided in latter years that Rosicky is at his most productive in the period from January to March, so there’s always that. Small comfort I guess, and there’s always a sense of what might have been with him.

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and before we get into it, just a note to say that we have made the hosting change, and as such a couple of things will look different. The player on the site, for example, is no longer the Soundcloud one, but we will continue to make the show available on there for you. Essentially nothing has changed in how it’s available, it’ll still be there in iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, whatever your favourite podcast app is – but if you notice any problems or issues, please just let me know and we’ll do our best to sort them ASAP.

There is, however, a nice new feature – the share icon in the top right allows you to share the podcast at a specific time-stamp, so if there’s a bit you want other people to hear, you can do that directly to Twiter, Facebook and email from within the player itself.

Update: I’m aware it sounds like there’s a bit missing when you listen via iTunes etc, will work on getting that fixed as soon as possible.

Update update: that should be fixed now.

For today’s show, I’m joined by Tim Clark from Arse2Mouse to discuss West Ham, the performance, the effect the loss has has on the mood, what we might do (or not do) in the transfer market, how the manager is going to find the right balance in the team, our striking options and lots more. There’s a competition to a HD metal print from Canvas Art Rocks, a look ahead to Palace on Sunday and all the usual waffle.

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). If you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.

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The Arsecast today is brought to you by predictthesix.com – use the voucher code ‘Arseblog’ to get free credit when you top up your account on your way to winning the £10,000 jackpot.

We’ll have all the news, bits and pieces, and everything else from the manager’s press conference throughout the day on Arseblog News, so keep an eye on there.

More from me tomorrow.

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