Injury updates and a look towards the weekend.

September 23, 2010

As exclusively revealed here yesterday, the scan on Gibbs showed only bruising. We can consider ourselves very fortunate that he will only be out for a relatively short period of time as he is a player that is very important for us this season as we need him to keep up the pressure on Clichy to perform week-in-week-out. Although the injury was feared to be the second metatarsal, which is different to the one he broke before, another metatarsal break would have been a major blow for the player and his development. So, bullet dodged.

 

Hopefully another ten days of rest will sort Vermaelen out and he can make it back for the Chavski game.

 

Enough of the bad news and on to some better news on the injury front. I can reveal that Diaby, Walcott and Van Persie have all started running again and so they are slowly making their way back towards being available for selection. However, as of yet, no date has been set for the return of any of the three players. I suspect Diaby will be the first of those to return, though given his injury history that may be a wildly optimistic prediction. One way or another, the above three players and Fabregas should all be pretty fresh for our traditional hell month, November. I haven’t heard anything on the Bendtner injury front.

 

Looking ahead to the weekend and we will be taking on West Brom at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 15:00 GMT, which means coverage will begin at the much more convenient time of  22:54 JST. I am really looking forward to being able to watch the game at a more sociable hour. The game will be shown live on J-Sports Plus, while at the same time J-Sports 2 will be showing Liverpool vs Sunderland. The early game between Man Shitty and Chavski will be shown live on J-Sports 2 from 20:39. Looks like it will be a decent evening of football for me.

 

The team selection for the weekend should see Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy play in defence. Midfield is likely to see Song, Denilson, Rosicky, Eboue, and Arshavin start with Chamakh again being the lone man up front. I think that Wilshere will be rested and Nasri may also be rested as there was a slight fitness worry over him at the end of the Spuds game.

 

The last thing we need is to take risks with the fitness of the players, so it would be prudent to exercise some caution with Nasri if there is any doubt at all over his fitness. Wilshere could also do with a little breather ahead of the Champions League and Chavski games next week. We should learn a little more about the possible weekend team selection over today and tomorrow as the manager’s weekly interview and press conference appear on ATVO.

 

Looking at the Carling Cup this could be our best chance for years to go on and win it. Liverpool, Chavski, Everton and Man Shitty are all out and it would be nice if we could get a favourable draw in the next round. We all know that for any of the big teams, the Carling Cup is the lowest priority, however, this team needs to win something in order to instill that belief and winning attitude. They need silverware, regardless of how low of a priority that competition may be. They need to experience winning a final. They need to know that they can do it. If that happens, it could be the catalyst to start an era of dominance for this team. I know that that last sentence is a bit Myles-esque in its hyperbole, but I really think that once the first trophy comes more will quickly follow. Much like going out drinking at the weekend and needing to use the bathroom, this team needs to break the seal. This is a sentiment echoed by Rosicky in the Daily Express.

 

I have a feeling that Wenger’s team selection against Spuds revealed that he may be coming around to the same way of thinking. Outside factors such as the easing of the club’s debt may also mean that there doesn’t need to be such an emphasis on blooding youngsters in this competition as we are not as reliant on that for continued success as has previously been the case. Or, it could just be that we have seen many of these players playing in the Carling Cup for a number of years now and it doesn’t feel like we are playing a weakened team in that competition anymore. These players are, for the most part, ready for inclusion in the first team squad and so the fruits of previous Carling Cup campaigns are paying off. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. All that I know is that I would love to see this club win a trophy this season and if that trophy is the Carling Cup, so be it. We have to start somewhere.

 

Speaking to the official site following the Tottenham game, Rosicky revealed his admiration for Jack Wilshere and he basically echoes the thoughts and sentiments that all fans have for our emerging star:

“He is great talent. For his age he has a great brain and he has a great future. When he has got the ball he is very calm, that’s something that sometimes younger guys don’t have – they panic a little bit or something.

With him you don’t see that though – he is very comfortable with the ball. That’s the first quality you are looking for and he has got that. Obviously we want Cesc in our line-up but all players who started showed that they are ready.”

 

Even though I am Irish, the fact that Wilshere is an emerging English talent does make him a bit more special. I suppose it also helps that the emergence of the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, JET and Eastmond gives the media one less thing to denigrate Arsenal for. All of these players have big futures in the game, hopefully that future is at Arsenal. The days of the media harping on about Arsenal not fielding any English players, not that that should make a difference anyway as it is about quality not nationality, should be at an end.

imageThe future?

 

That’s a longer post than I had expected to write, so I’d best just stop here. But before I go, check out John Cross’s article on tackling. It’s a good read.

 

Take it easy.


The biggest of challenges for the biggest of occasions.

May 5, 2009

Today is the day that we play what is undoubtedly or biggest games since the Champions League final in 2006. There is no real need to say what this means to the fans, the players and the staff. We all know how big this game is. This is the first truly huge night of football to be played at the Emirates.

 

It’s going to be an early start in order to watch this one live, another 03:45 kick-off, but luckily tomorrow is a national holiday, so all is good.

 

Early team news indicates that both Silvestre and Van Persie will be fit, so I expect us to start in a 4-4-2 formation with Van Persie playing in attack alongside Adebayor. Let’s hope that having Van Persie alongside him again will inspire the Togolese to get his finger out and actually try working for the team for a change.

 

That should leave us starting with Walcott and Nasri out wide and Song partnering Cesc in the middle. At the back, I expect that the boss will play Sagna, Toure, Silvestre and Gibbs, though I really hope that Djourou starts in place of Silvestre. Obviously, Almunia will be in goal.

 

It’s important that we start this game with a positive formation as we need to go at them, without taking undue risk, because we don’t have a defence good enough to absorb any kind of real sustained pressure without conceding. I think we all know that it will be ‘game over ball burst’ if ManUre get an all-important away goal tonight. With that in mind, the players will need to use their heads and not take any big risks.

 

The boss can use the memory of Anfield 1989 to give the players the belief that they can achieve a two goal win over ManUre. Though if the game finishes 1-0 to us and then goes to penalties I would fancy us to go through after our shoot-out exploits against Roma earlier in the competition.

 

I an excited, nervous and terrified all at the same time and i must admit it’s a great feeling. These are the games that we wait/hope to see our team involved in each year and they don’t come much bigger than a Champions League semi-final against the holders at your home ground.

 

Alex Fergusmoan himself admits that this game is the biggest one between our two teams:

“There’s no question this is the biggest game. The challenges and the clashes we’ve had with Arsenal in the past do not reach the proportion of Tuesday night.”

 

Cesc has, yet again, pledged his future to the club and it’s great to hear. However, I think that we all know that, in this day and age, players can quickly change their minds, but until that happens it is great to hear. We all know he will return back to Barcelona someday, but let’s hope that it won’t be for a good many years yet.

 

“How many times have I said this. My future belongs to Arsenal and I want to be at Arsenal. I see my future here. I do not have to tell anyone to be relaxed or more confident that I am staying. My name has been linked with other clubs for four years and I am still here. That should tell you something. If I had not come to Arsenal when I was 16, I would probably not be playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League or have had the opportunity to play in a Champions League final [against Barcelona in 2006. I am really grateful to what Arsenal have done for me. Now, it is up to me and all the Arsenal players who were brought here when they were young to achieve things for the club that believed in us and the fans who supported us. It is up to us to pay them back. For most of the players it could be the most important games of their career. We want to make history and we want to go through.”

 

He’s the club captain and I hope that he will lift many trophies for us before his time in England is done. It’s good to hear him talk about the players owing the club a lot for making them the players that they are.

 

The boss is bullish about our chances tonight and I truly hope he is right. It would be amazing if this team were to reach the final our Europe’s premier competition.

 

“I’m very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance. We play at home, where we have a strong record in the Champions League. For many people we are super-outsiders but I personally believe we will do it. If I had said in November that we will be in the semi-finals of the Champions League and FA Cup and go 21 games unbeaten — as we have in the Premier League — you’d have called an ambulance! I feel very proud of this team because they have been through difficult periods and shown great mental strength. And they have faced much more adversity than all the other teams I have had here. The progress this team has made since the start of the season has been remarkable.”

 

I wouldn’t only disagree with one part of his statement and that is that it hasn’t so much been a progression since the start of the season as one since November 22nd after we suffered that humiliating defeat by Man City. No Arsenal fan, not even the most ardent would ever have predicted that we would secure fourth spot in the league with three games remaining but also reach the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League as well as having a decent Carling Cup run. So kudos must be given to all involved in the club for keeping their heads and turning things around.

 

To think that we have achieved this despite multiple long-term injuries and a shortage of quality players in defensive areas makes it all the more remarkable. Of course, we still need to improve and tweak the squad in the summer, but we should all be happy that this team has salvaged some pride and respect from a season that looked doomed to abject failure just six months ago.

 

The boss also tries admirably to defend Adebayor but to be honest it doesn’t really wash with me and it is clear to all that he needs to return to the kind of form that he showed for us last season.

 

“I can understand the criticism Adebayor got at United. But I watched carefully that game again and he put a lot more effort in, more than people think — and he was really isolated. We didn’t give him enough support on the night. He works hard in training, he’s focused and he wants to do well.”

 

Congratulations must go to the Arsenal ladies who defeated Sunderland ladies 2-1 to bring home yet another FA Cup for Vic Akers and the ladies. That’s thirty one trophies in twenty two years for Akers and the ladies. What a record!

 

In other news, Marc Overmars broke his leg in the last minute of a game at the weekend. Let’s hope that he makes a speedy and full recovery.

 

So, that’s about that. There are now twelve hours until kick-off and I will be looking into adjusting the angle of my TV so that I can watch the game from the comfort of the throne should things be going down to the wire. I have my lucky Cesc jersey sitting waiting to be worn. I would have it on right now, but i don’t want any of it’s lucky charms to wear off before kick-off.

 

One thing we must all remember is that if we progress tonight, we still have a lot of work to do before winning anything. Likewise, should we lose, we must strive to keep our heads and not lose the plot calling for the manager’s head. To achieve what we have this season and to have progressed so much since the end of November should constitute quite a successful season, all things considered. Twenty one games unbeaten in the league is quite an achievement and has been done largely unnoticed by the mass media, just the way I like it.

 

The performances of Cesc, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor will be absolutely vital for our chances tonight. Let’s hope we get big performances from all.

 

Okay, time to go and stock up on toilet paper, snacks and ginger ale. No beer for me tonight. I want to remain focussed and able to aim my rage and hatred in a more controlled way at Ronaldo and co.

 

‘til tomorrow. Let’s hope we get the performance that we all crave tonight. I would love a 3-1 to the Arsenal with our third goal coming in the 5th minute of injury time due to a deflection off Ronaldo. That would be sweet. But, any victory that would put us through will do.

 

Come on you REEEEEEEEEEEDS!!!!!!!!!