Mannone Staying Put and Koscielny on the Spotlight
The second phase of international fixtures commence tonight and the star attraction will be the crunch encounter between Spain and France. As expected, the build-up to this game has seen different players come into the spotlight for more reasons than one.
Arsenal’s Spanish representative, Santi Cazorla, has stated that he wants to be like Andres Iniesta when he grows up, and that’s not a bad thing, considering the fact that Iniesta is one of the best midfielders in his generation. Despite the fact that his skin is no different from those zombies in Resident Evil, his football ability is light years ahead of the average attacking midfielder.
Like Iniesta, Cazorla is a versatile lad and he’s pretty good with the ball on his feet. However, Iniesta’s passing ability and creativity is second to none. It still goes down to Santi Cazorla to keep improving and one team will be the beneficiary of his success story – Arsenal.
From the French camp, the spirits are high but their shock loss to Japan raised a few eyebrows. Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny played that game and didn’t put a foot wrong all game long. French defensive legend and World Cup winner, Marcel Desailly, has lauded Koscielny, stating that he’s at par with Nemanja Vidic and Gerard Pique,
I love Koscielny, I’ve seen him a lot. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a great experience [against Japan], but he’s had good momentum since his arrival at Arsenal.
“He has good leg speed, which reminds me of Lilian [Thuram]. The last time we spoke I told him to work hard and he’ll become one of the best defenders in the world.
“He’s at the standard of a Vidic or Pique. I mean that sincerely.”
In contrast to Desailly, I won’t rank Koscielny with Vidic and Pique just yet, because he’s still in a steep learning curve and his performances last season showed what he was capable of. Koscielny on the other hand, is relishing clashing with Spain tonight.
If my memory serves me right, Koscielny’s last match against Spain was his first in the European Championships when he partnered Adil Rami in defense after Phillippe Mexes picked up a suspension. The center back pairing that night was impressive but Xabi Alonso’s brace was enough to book the Spanish side a semifinal berth against Portugal.
For reasons best known to Aliens scared to attack the Earth because Chuck Norris lives, Koscielny lashed out at Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, labelling him as a diver and a cheat. This is probably the reason why,
Koscielny doesn’t have to be bothered tonight, because the last time I checked, Suarez speaks Spanish but his national team wears Blue and Black. I’m looking forward to tonight’s match and I’ll be rooting for my best national team (after Nigeria, obviously) – Les Bleus.
It’s fair to say that Vito Mannone is having his longest run-out in the first team making his debut in 2009. He had a run-out similar to this in the 2009/10 campaign, where he put up that 5-star performance against Fulham but when Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski returned to full fitness, Mannone went down the pecking order, much to his dissatisfaction.
Two successful spells to npower Championship outfit, Hull City, followed and the extended run of games did wonders to Mannone’s confidence as he went on an amazing run of nine clean sheets for the Tigers as they narrowly missed out on a play-off spot last season.
As expected, Hull wanted to retain Mannone’s services permanently but Arsene Wenger was having none of it. Maybe he saw the future and envisaged that Mannone could still play a role for the club or maybe he saw that raw potential in the Italian goalie and to be frank, I can’t tell.
Mannone had a couple of pre-season games but the Polish goalkeeping duo played most of the matches. Out of the blue, Lukasz Fabianski suffered a mysterious injury and his whereabouts are still shrouded in mystery, leaving Szczesny and Don Vito as Arsenal’s recognized goalies.
Szczesny kept a clean sheet against Sunderland before suffering a rib injury, and I was as scared as fuck when Wenger announced that Mannone will be Arsenal’s custodian between the sticks against that Rugby outfit, Stoke City. The Italian did alright and did even better in Anfield, raising his confidence levels.
Szczesny came back to the side against Southampton and would have preferred the ground to open up after his howler but when I learned that he had suffered an “ankle injury”, I thought that Wenger was punishing him for his gaff against Southampton but as we can all see, Szczesny still remains on the sidelines, as Mannone has played every game, with the exception of the Capitol One clash against Coventry.
The young Italian had reiterated his desire to make No. 1 position his for keeps but Wenger was quick to declare that Szczesny is still in Pole position for that position. Mannone has attracted interest from his clubs in his nation, Inter and Napoli, and many believe that he could jump ship.
Mannone has come out to pledge his future to Arsenal, stating that he’s wants to remain at Arsenal for as long as he can,
“I want to make it clear, because there have been unfounded rumours, that my contract is not ending in 12 months,
“I’ve got a few more years and I’m happy to be at Arsenal right now. I’m looking at the present and my future is not in doubt.
“I want to stay at Arsenal as long as I can, I don’t want to move to any other club.”
Mannone has stated that his current ambition is to break into the Italian national team and it will take some stuffing to displace the legendary Gianluigi Buffon and his able deputy, Salvatore Sirigu.
I still don’t know why I’m not very comfortable with Mannone in goal and his performances in the “big games” we’ve played this season (with the exception of Liverpool) kinda proves me right. He can’t still command his area and that seems to be a very big problem in my opinion.
However, I’m going to cut him some slack because on a grand scale of things, he has done okay, but I want Szczesny to be back a.s.a.p.
That’s today’s bit.
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