Starting to get that semi on + Arsecast 426 with Ian Wright

Hello, good morning, it’s been a bit of a hectic one so far as I had to do some early recording. I was travelling yesterday, an international jet-setter going from sunny Dublin to even sunnier London to get most of today’s podcast done, but as you can see from the picture above, it was worth it.

All the details and links you need are further down the page, so get stuck that into that whenever you like. Any shares etc are always greatly appreciated.

I didn’t have time to catch the manager’s press conference yesterday, that’s something I’ll rectify today but of course we have an FA Cup semi-final on Sunday against Man City. While the top four looks a bit beyond us right now, you just never know with cup football and we could, despite the difficulties of this season, find ourselves with some silverware at the end of it.

I’m not especially optimistic in that regard but it’s still something to cling to. We’ll preview the game properly over the weekend, but Arsene Wenger was asked if he was going to stick with the back three he deployed against Middlesbrough earlier in the week. He said:

It is an option, yes. But what will I do? You will understand that I won’t tell you now.

You know, it was more destined to give us a bit more defensive solidity because recently away from home we conceded too many goals.

Clearly he’s trying to out-psyche Pep who had probably never considered Arsenal playing with anything but a back four until he saw what happened at Boro [/sarcasm]. Still though, it would be really strange to make such a radical change to his system for a game against a relegation threatened side who have scored fewer goals than any other in the top four divisions this season.

I suspect he saw that as good time to try it out, and said quite specifically it was to help the players rebuild some confidence. Having won a game away from home using it, wouldn’t it be then self-defeating revert to a back four?

I don’t know if three at the back is going to work on Sunday, or in the long-term, but using it in the first place was tacit acceptance that things weren’t right. It’s definitely too early to say it’s the solution to all our problems, but it’s also too early to write it off. Let’s give it a go and see what happens.

Wenger expanded on the injury suffered by Jack Wilshere, saying:

We think it’s a simple fracture that doesn’t need any surgery at all, and hopefully he will be back in July for normal training… It’s a very simple fracture of the fibula, and we need patience so let’s hope all goes well.

I think the last part of that is really important. The last fracture he had was supposed to be a very simple one and that kept him out for most of a season, so it’s anybody’s guess how long he’s going to be out this time. As for Wilshere’s long-term future, there was nothing forthcoming on that. Nor his own. Nor that of Alexis Sanchez. Or Mesut Ozil. Or … etc

It looks like summer will be the time when these player issues are decided, and if you think it’s just a couple of players who need to be dealt with, check out the list of when player contracts expire and you can see there’s a lot of work to do. Especially if, as is being suggested, some of the admin staff at the club might be on the move at the end of the season.

For some extra reading this morning, here’s Tim Stillman making the case for Alexis to play centre-forward again.

Right, time now for this week’s Arsecast, and it’s a pretty special one because yesterday I went to London to sit down for an hour with the one and only Ian Wright. I don’t need to give you any bumph about who he is or what a legend he is, so I’ll just tell you that we chat about his Arsenal career, his work as a pundit and how hard it is for him to separate the professional and personal when he watches this team play, what’s going on at the moment from the manager to the players to the boardroom and beyond, and lots more. It’s a great chat, full of passion and love for the Arsenal, but he doesn’t hold back either.

Big thanks to @DJTayo for helping us find a place to record yesterday, and of course to Ian for taking the time to come and talk to me.

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Right, that’s it. Enjoy the podcast. All going well we should hear from The Gent this afternoon, and there’s more from me tomorrow.

Until then.


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