Daily Archives: December 28, 2012
Watching the Boxing Day fixtures gave me a real food for thought as the Premier League showcased its unpredictability yet again.
Manchester United showed what champions were made of, Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry got an extra twitch from the West Brom defeat, that Chimpanzee got a hat-trick (there were some reports of sheer elation in zoos all over England) and those Rugby goons from Stoke proved why the Britannia has become a fortress.
As expected, the destinies of various Premier League teams were reshaped yet again as victories for Tottenham, Everton and West Brom put them on 33 points, meaning that a win against Newcastle tomorrow is of utmost importance for Arsenal, as the Gunners are currently on seventh place, three points adrift the coveted Champions League spot.
The gods of injuries have ravaged Arsenal in the yesteryear and this season has been no different. Every playing position in the team has been affected at some point in the season, but it seems as if Arsenal is going to have a clean bill of health ahead of tomorrow’s crunch encounter against Newcastle.
At this point in time, Arsenal’s only long-term casualty remains Lukasz Fabianski, that’s still out nursing an ankle injury. Abou Diaby, yes, Abou Diaby will be back in training next week. (via Daily Mail).
The lanky Frenchman was on a renaissance at the start of the season, and his performance against Liverpool will probably go down as one of his best in Arsenal colors. When he took onto the pitch against Chelsea, he was in some discomfort and was replaced shortly afterwards by Aaron Ramsey.
In a game where Diaby’s influence was needed massively, it took two Thomas Vermaelen-induced unforced errors which led to two Juan Mata free kicks that put the Gunners to the sword. As the saying goes, “when it really Matas, Juan appears“.
The return of Jack Wilshere to full fitness has doused those flames created by Arsenal fans in panic when Diaby was out, and it would be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger would handle this selection headache. Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla are indispensable to the team and it’s fair to say that Jack Wilshere is in that mold as well.
If I was in Wenger’s shoes though, I could afford to play Diaby alongside Arteta in central midfield, while giving Wilshere an advanced position in the playmaking role. This would mean that I would move Santi Cazorla to one of the flanks, right flank preferably, sacrificing the Ox in the process.
Well that’s the Football Manager 2013 in me, I’m certainly no Wenger.
However, there is a tale of a 21-year-old man, Vugar Guloglan oglu Huseynzade, that was given the managerial position at FC Baku, just for his football manager knowledge. (via Yahoo! Sports)
So don’t judge me!
Jack Wilshere has been very influential for the Gunners since his return and his performance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the fans, his manager and of course, his teammates. Santi Cazorla has stated that the players understand each other everyday but he’s amazed by Wilshere’s potential. (via Arsenal.com)
To be honest, I’m also astonished at the way Wilshere blended straight into the team, like he never left. When he conquered the world in the 2010/11 campaign, he played alongside Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song on a consistent basis.
Since his return, he has forged a telepathic understanding with Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla, which was epitomized by this act of intricate passing play between the triumvirate.
Wilshere has also acknowledged that his long-term layoff has some him some good in the long run, and feels that his body is stronger than before. Prior to his 14 month ankle injury, he had played over 4,000 minutes of football in the 2010/11 season where he deservedly won the 2011 PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Elsewhere, Wenger has praised Arsenal’s medical staff and has also revealed that Tomas Rosicky and Olivier Giroud will be ready for action but I have a hunch that both players will have to make do with a cozy spot on the bench.
Irrespective of Rosicky’s fitness, it would be hard for the Spaniard to displace Cazorla from the team. Giroud on the other hand, has the threat of Theo Walcott to contend with and we will be in for an interesting second half to the season.
Funnily enough, Giroud doesn’t also have the threat of Walcott to contend with as it is believed that Arsenal is on the hunt for another center forward that will be ready to fill the big boots of Robin van Persie.
The Flying Dutchman scored 37 goals in 48 games for the Gunners last season while the joint combination of Podolski and Giroud have scored 15 goals in 47 games.
Not good enough, I guess?
Moving over to some transfer tidbits, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he might not a secure a loan move for Thierry Henry. (via Sports and Stars).
It also seems as if the Gunners might face a losing battle for Newcastle’s Demba Ba, as the Senelegase forward has come out to say that he’s a boyhood PSG fan. (via Daily Mail)
Footballers can never be trusted for their words. A few weeks ago, Ba almost got a fine for declaring his admiration for Arsenal. Born in Sevres, played for Rouen, Mouscron, Hoffenheim, West Ham and Newcastle.
Now he’s a fan of Paris St. Germain? I’m getting you Ba.
It has also been reported that Arsenal is planning a shock move for QPR’s Portuguese right back with a mono eyebrow (via Miu Soccer) and the club has agreed personal terms with Atletico’s Arda Turan (via Inside Spanish Football).
That’s today’s bit.
I’ll publish a Newcastle match preview in tomorrow’s post.
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