Morning all. Welcome to Friday, the end of another week, and we can start looking ahead properly to the small matter of the derby on Sunday.
After all the injury news that has been bad, we have a little bit of good going into this one. First up, Laurent Koscielny will be available, which is obviously good news. Apparently he could have played against Bayern on Wednesday, but Arsene Wenger wasn’t willing to risk him just in case. Although the game wasn’t exactly Gabriel’s best, it shows the benefit of having back-up for important first team players.
I suppose we should point out that our problem isn’t so much one of numbers, more that the numbers we have contain a significant tranche of players who are injury prone. Anyway, I digress. David Ospina is back in training so if he’s ready he’ll take his place on the bench, while Mikel Arteta is reportedly fit again. I can’t see that having any kind of impact on the starting XI, but the return of any player from injury is welcome at this point.
There’s also some good news about Tomas Rosicky who has been given the OK to return to training after his knee surgery. Given the manager only really seems to play him in a burst between January and March, he’s right on track to make his contribution to this season.
Hidden away in the Telegraph report about all fitness issues, with confirmation that Bellerin, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain should be back after the Interlull, was a little snippet about Theo Walcott – “Theo Walcott’s injury is more severe and he will be out for another month.”
I think this was part of why I held reservations about Walcott as a central striker. He’s gone some way to proving that he’s capable of doing the job up front this season – although it’s clear that Olivier Giroud has performed better and more consistently, if slightly less eye-catchingly – but the fitness issues continue to plague him and have a detrimental effect on his career.
I know it’s from April last year, but this piece (despite the headline!) illustrates just how much football he’s missed, and it’s an issue that continues to have an impact on him and us. To really grow into that central role, he has to play consistently, but over the course of his time at Arsenal he’s been in and out of the side due to injuries which then have an impact on how the manager views him. Having won him around recently, it’ll be interesting to see if that has changed the Wenger’s thinking at all.
It’s also a shame right now because part of what has made Giroud so effective is the competition Walcott has provided – the interchanging of the two has kept the Frenchman fresh. When he’s not knackered, he scores goals, but once again we’re in a position where he’s got to carry the striking burden on his own. When he does get a bit tired and the goals dry up, he’ll likely become a target for abuse again, without any contextualisation of the situation. Fingers crossed Walcott can get back a bit quicker than a month from now, even with the Interlull upcoming.
Still, it could be worse. We could have spent £50m+ on a player who blackmails his international teammates. Imagine what a character like that in your dressing room could do for the spirit and harmony of a group. Wait, sorry. I forgot. It doesn’t matter what any footballer does off the pitch as long as he performs on it. How silly of me. All the same, bullet dodged there in a big way.
Some good news ahead of the Interlull as Kicker report that Mesut Ozil won’t be called up to the Germany squad for their games – one of which is against France who have called up Giroud and Koscielny. Apparently manager Joachim Low is cognisant that certain players won’t get a winter break in their domestic leagues, and as such is doing his bit to ensure they don’t get too knackered. An conscientious international manager who shows common sense? It’ll never catch on.
Time then for this week’s Arsecast and after a 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich I try and talk about that as little as possible. All the same Goonerholic joins me for some European discussion and a look ahead to the North London derby on Sunday. We get an opposition view from a complete rotter, Andrei Arshavin reveals his top 5 songs in his Mixtape, and there’s all the usual waffle.
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Further reading this morning from Tim Stillman who tells the story of his trip to Munich – it made me tired reading it (in that in captures the adventure very well!).
We’ll have all the news from the press conference, updating team news, and whatever else emerges over on Arseblog News throughout the day. More from me tomorrow.