Morning all, it’s getting cold, boooo. Soon it will be time to throw on the industrial, rather than lightweight, hoodie first thing in the morning.
Anyway, the manager held his pre-West Brom press conference yesterday rather than today, as is usually the custom when we play an away game on a Saturday. There was obviously a lot to get through, first and foremost team news about tomorrow, and the only member of the walking wounded to return is Hector Bellerin who has recovered from the groin strain that kept him out of the Sp*rs game.
The expected comebacks of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been put on hold with Arsene Wenger suggesting they could be ‘back’ on Monday. Quite what that means is unclear. They could be back in training but not quite ready to play on Tuesday, and given that they’re missing out on arguably a much more important game tomorrow then I suspect that’s the case. Still, there’s no point risking any kind of setback.
Obviously he was asked about what happened in Paris last Saturday, and he spoke about his own experience in the city that night as well as thanking England and English football for its solidarity, evident in the powerful events at Wembley on Tuesday night. The emotion of that night was clearly apparent in the face of Laurent Koscielny and Wenger said he’d have to talk to the player to see if it was in the right frame of mind to play this weekend:
On Tuesday night he was not himself. It affected him deeply and I didn’t recognise the player I saw on Friday night on Tuesday night. I will talk with him. I have not talked to him yet, but I will talk to him to see if he is completely recovered and focused.
What I will want from him is that he’s completely committed and feels ready. If not, I will not play him.
I would be very surprised if he wasn’t ready for the game tomorrow. While it’s clear he was, and probably remains, hugely affected by what happened, he’s also a professional. It’s also very often the case that having that emotional moment, almost a release, is part of being able to deal with things and to help move on. It’s not a case of forgetting, more being able to compartmentalise it.
We could also wonder about the mental state of Olivier Giroud who must also be affected. Perhaps the fact we have Gabriel who can slot in for Koscielny without too much disruption allows the manager to think more on Koscielny’s participation, while the lack of any genuine option to play instead of Giroud means a slightly different approach is required. Either way, I’m sure both men will want to get back on the pitch this weekend.
Wenger also spoke at length about doping in football and how he wants the systems to be changed. Instead of urine samples after games, a blood sample would be a) more convenient, as you don’t have to wait around for a dehydrated player and b) allow for more in-depth testing. Wenger said:
When you play away in the Champions League, most of the time we lose two hours when there is doping control because people cannot fulfil the tests. With a little blood test it takes a minute and you can test much more. It is simple, why can we not do it? In every other sport they do it.
And he once again urged the game to take the issue seriously, saying:
We have to tackle this problem and not to close our eyes because it is a little bit not reasonable to think that just because we are football we have no problems with it.
After what he said in the L’Equipe interview, and in a chat with beIN Sport last week, he might as well be going around the town square shouting “HEAR YE! HEAR YE! THERE’S A PROBLEM WITH DOPING IN FOOTBALL!”. The question is will anybody pay attention? Will the game’s authorities take what he’s saying and do something about it?
Will other managers back Wenger or will they, by their silence, leave the Arsenal manager as a lone voice? You might ask what we could pick up from that? For more on this you really should listen to today’s Arsecast (below), as Philippe Auclair has plenty to say on the subject and it makes for fascinating listening.
Finally, reports that new deals have been agreed with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were played down a little bit. The boss said:
We are not in a hurry. Of course we want them to stay here at the club and we will start the negotiations at some stage. At the moment we have not started them. From the New Year to the summer we will certainly start talks with all the players who have two years to go at the end of the season.
That includes Ozil, but not Alexis who only joined last summer of course. Then again, much like transfers Arsene likes to keep even these kind of negotiations as quiet as possible, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if things were happening but just not made public in any official capacity. We shall see.
Right then, time now for this week’s Arsecast and as I mentioned I’m joined by Philippe Auclair to discuss the events in Paris last Saturday and the possible impact on football and Arsenal players. As well as that we talk about doping in football in the wake of further comments from Arsene Wenger about how he wants the testing system overhauled; there are chances to win prizes from Savile Rogue and Percy Nobleman, a quick look ahead to the return of football this weekend, and a bit of 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). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player, and 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.
Some bonus reading for you as Tim Stillman touches on Alexis Development, the Gent will be here later with his weekly review, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a full preview of the West Brom game and all the rest.
Remember, you can get 10% off your order at Savile Rogue by using the code 10ARSEBLOG at check-out.
Until then, have a good Friday folks.