Walcott and Podolski out of game. Can Coquelin help Arteta?

Can a bad week get even worse on Saturday? That is the question we would all like to know, we don’t want it to come to fruition, not at all but these days we don’t know which Arsenal will turn up against West Brom. The loss to Olympiacos was shrugged off by the manager, he played a weakened team against the Greeks and in all reality a defeat was far from a shock. On one side of the coin the first team were afforded a rest and a chance to recharge their batteries ready for the battle at the weekend on the other side of the coin the players that underperformed against Swansea were given a chance to pamper their egos rather than prove themselves at the earliest opportunity in the next game.

The stats men will be rubbing their hands throwing out all sorts of statistics highlighting how long it has been since we last won and how many games in a row we have lost etc. They don’t care about the relevance of the games just what looks good in their tables and pie charts. Now we receive the news that 1st team players Theo Walcott and Lukasz Podolski are out of the game at the weekend. Surely more ammo to back up crisis talk; all they need to do now is claim Aaron Ramsey will take up the role on the right side of the front three and there will be riots in the streets of North London.

The loss of Walcott and Podolski are massive losses to the team, they do bring goals to the team and goals are required until we purchase a striker to share the goal burden with Olivier Giroud. One thing Arsenal has always been good at over the years is pulling off results when we are at our lowest. It doesn’t have to be against a title rival for us to raise our game; we have received the wakeup call last Saturday, the slap in the face to bring us to our senses, refocus and overcome the pain.

I wasn’t happy with Arsene rushing back Rosicky into the team on Saturday after he only just returned to training within the past couple weeks. He will be vital to our fortunes for the rest of the season and his cameo on Tuesday gave a reminder to those who may have forgotten his importance to the Arsenal midfield. It was good that the manager saw sense and only played him for one half of the game. I want him back, badly but I don’t want him broken within 2 weeks like what has happened to Abou Diaby. Just ease him back a bit Arsene, not too much too soon.


One thing I would like to see is for Francis Coquelin to step it up to the next level. He has settled in and established himself in the first team squad, he has been called upon when required but to me he needs a breakout performance in his preferred position to show us Arsenal fans we can rely on him as the holding midfielder.

It has been quite evident lately that the strain of keeping the Arsenal midfield ticking over is taking its toll on Mikel Arteta. He has done an admiral job stepping into the void vacated by Alex Song however it seems he is in need of a break, the problem is who comes in to replace him? Coquelin is young and has potential but for a player whose main position is as a defensive midfielder he has only really been played in that role in cup games. His appearances in the league has been more to close out games in the dying minutes, his defensive mentality is called upon to add protection to the defence/midfield. Yet Wenger has never taken the decision to rest Arteta and replace him with the young Frenchman.


Coquelin did impress last season when played in emergency positions like at fullback when we had terrible luck with injuries in that position. His versatility was essential and a welcome assistance to the team however in his preferred role we are yet to witness that standout performance, the kind of performance that makes you sit back and think he could make that spot his own within time. Even Emmanuel Frimpong last season at that terrible point at the start of last season managed to pull off an encouraging performance against Liverpool which had many neutral observers predicting big things. Yes he got sent off in the game but he did enough while on the pitch against top opposition to show he has a big game performance in him. The injury has set Frimpong back but if he works hard and gets over the injuries he could get back to that level. Coquelin needs to take advantage of any chance he gets and puts in the kind of performance that makes the neutrals take notice. At the moment he is caught in that void where he is just a squad player, he needs to step up to the level where he is talked about as the future successor to the defensive midfield role.

I’m not attacking Coquelin, I believe in him as a player and as a fan I want him to grow and improve to the level that the fans feel the team is weakened when he is not around. He is still young as I said but given the current state of the team patience is in short supply with the fans. We need cover in all positions in the team; like for like cover that leaves each position in good hands.

Arteta needs a break; Coquelin needs to give Arsene a reminder that he has someone to share the load.

Enjoy your day people.

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Tough Everton game up next for Gunners

Match day today, the Gunners face a tough game away to Everton at Goodison Park. To gain three points tonight would call upon all the players bringing their A game with them. We are boosted by the news that Theo Walcott returns to fitness and should play a part in the game. We badly missed the outlet of Walcott’s pace on Saturday and his return is a timely boost to the team. He has become an important part of our attacking game and maybe finally reaching the level of consistency that has been missing from his game over the years.

The fact that he has reached this not playing in his preferred central role is worrying for all those wanting him to sign a new contract. It has come to the point where his departure would be a massive loss to the team, we need him to sign a new contract and by that we need to keep him happy. Money shouldn’t be an issue, given the multi million pound deal signed with Fly Emirates last week.

We will need to keep a close eye on the developments as time moves ever closer to the midseason transfer window. One thing that can’t be read into too much is the talk of the selections for the 2013 calendar. The fact Theo is not included on the calendar could be down to mere coincidence. Each month contains a single player, that’s 12 players from a squad of 30 strong, some players will miss out, it’s simple maths.

Calendars and club catalogues can draw all sorts of confusion just by who is selected to front the pages, I would not stress myself trying to predict our transfer dealings based on a calendar. Right now in my office at work I have an Arsenal calendar with the November picture of Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie celebrating a goal. Can’t even bear to look at that thing, Calendars are more hassle than they are worth.

Everton will have Fellaini back after serving a one match suspension, it will be important that the defence are fully focused to contain the threat of the Toffee’s in form player. The two recent clean sheets will be a welcome psychological boost to the defence, the threat stems throughout the Everton team from the quality delivery of Baines from the wing to the trickery of the likes of Pienaar and Mirallas. Even though our past few games against Everton have been positive results the performances themselves have required hard ground out ethic. On paper we have every chance in reality it’s 50/50.

In addition to Walcott there’s a chance for fresher legs to return to action against Everton: Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna, and Thomas Vermaelen may be utilized. Although we never suffered any injuries from the Villa game Arsene clearly had tonight’s game in mind when he made his team selection on Saturday. It may have slightly backfired given the result at the weekend but there’s a chance to put things right tonight. With players returning from injury Arsene Wenger has more of a luxury of players to select for the game than in past weeks, it may work in our favour, hopefully it will keep the starting eleven on their toes and inspire a great performance from each of them.

In other Arsenal news Emmanuel Frimpong has been given clearance by FIFA to represent Ghana at international level. The Arsenal youngster has made no secret of his desire to represent the country of his heritage. It’s a shame he turned his back on England but you cannot deny anyone the right to represent their country of birth. Some things are bigger than football and his decision is one made from the heart. It may cause problems in future when you consider the African Cup of Nations but for now he is not part of the current first team and so his recuperation from injury is priority, once he gets to the level he has the potential to reach then we can curse his absence from the team.

He seems to be doing ok on his loan at Charlton, he certainly won’t be given any easy treatment by the league one opposition, and he will be a marked man due to where he is on loan from and his status in the public. The experience will only make him stronger and more hungry to make up for lost time.

Another boost to the team is the return of Tomas Rosicky to full training. We have been robbed of the services of Rosicky all season after an injury picked up on international duty with the Czech team during the Euros. His return will be a welcome additional and it is hoped he gets into the groove quickly once he returns to first team duty. Arsene said of Rosicky:

“Rosicky is back in the squad, not quite match fit but in full training. He needs a game or two in the reserve team. He has not played for six months but he is fit.”

It will be great to have him back, we have certainly missed the alternative dynamic to the midfield that Rosicky and Diaby can bring. Between the two we may get the opportunity of one or the other available for future match day squads continuously. Diaby is around 4 weeks away from returning to training so fingers crossed they both return and stay a little longer with us.

Enjoy your day people.

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International break a time to recharge, Frimpong loan soon – AFC

Never thought an international break would be a welcome event but given the events of the weekend I feel us arsenal fans will appreciate the breather. Supporting arsenal is a full time job and the lows come part and parcel with the highs. The thing with football is it is an infinite journey with many twists and turns, there are no finish lines, you win a cup you move on to the next one. It isn’t like a rocky movie with a freeze frame of punching the air in glory at the end you plan for the next season and move on.

Saturday’s draw felt like a defeat to many gunners’ fans, to throw away a two goal lead at home to a side not on our level hit hard, really hard the missed penalty rubbed salt straight into the open wound that was our patience.

The bad feeling peaked on Saturday and it took a day or two for the fans to calm down. Would a midweek game have given the team a chance to fix the errors from Saturday? Probably, maybe but for me the mini break gives me a chance to recharge my faith and belief in my team.

Provided there are no major injuries from the international games I can realign my focus on the massive game we have coming up. Last season the match against spurs was a major turning point in our fortunes as we overturned the bad feelings from previous games and restored the belief in the team. This season things are slightly different however the bad feelings are lingering. Losing to Tottenham is not acceptable at any time, and if that were to happen this Saturday then the Wenger out brigade will be at their strongest, a defeat would make any defence of Wenger a hard task.

We do have some positives leading up to the north London derby. The form of Olivier Giroud is a positive, the Frenchman is starting to find the back of the net more regularly and the confidence is growing.

We will need the big guy to bring his A game on Saturday, if there are still arsenal fans out there yet to be convinced about Giroud’s abilities then the winning goal against the spuds will elevate the striker to god like status (for a day or two). I for one feel a bit more confident he can cause some problems for the spud defence and hope he returns from France duties with no injury.

Another positive is the return of Szczesny to the arsenal first team, I would assume he is a shoe in to start on Saturday replacing Vito Mannone, although the Italian hasn’t been a complete disaster in the first team he has raised a few questions in recent performances. The header he conceded on Saturday is one of the goals you would expect a top keeper to save, he will be a lot better for the experience he has gained over the last month or so but now is a time for reflection to work on the good and bad sides of his first team game experiences whilst our Pole returns to number one duty.

In other news Emmanuel Frimpong went public to declare his determination to succeed at arsenal. Some rumours started to surface yesterday that the combative midfielder was going to be sold in the New Year as the club decided against offering him a new contract. Thanks to the platform of twitter the arsenal man put the rumours straight by stating he intends to stay at arsenal beyond this season, he also hinted that a loan move is on the cards. Which team that will be is not yet known but he clearly has been given the blessing of Arsene to continue his rehabilitation with first team football out on loan.

He built such a good relationship with Wolverhampton wanderers last season it would not surprise many if he went back there on loan. The drop down to the championship may not carry favour with all fans but I feel the chance for first team will take preference over whether it’s at premiership level or not. It would probably be a greater test at championship level for him as the tackles are not wrapped in cotton wool there. Of course we don’t want to risk a reoccurrence of the injuries he sustained over the years but in the long run he needs to overcome the psychological barriers such injuries can bring. It helped benefit Aaron Ramsey’s return to arsenal first team duty with his spells at Cardiff and Nottingham Forest and can do the same for the Dench mastermind.

Enjoy your day people.

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A Welcomed International Break For Wenger

It has been a quiet week for Arsene Wenger as most of our players have hooked up with their national teams to go and pick up an injury or two and take the sting out of any momentum we had at this early stage of the season. In actual fact though, rather than in previous seasons where there are more footballers on twitter than on our training ground during the international break, there are a few players coming back from injury and with Arteta struggling to get a look into the Spain squad, there is a little bit more life on the training ground than usual.

Arsene Wenger will love this! He absolutely hates letting his players go away with their national sides as they are then out of his control and more than often come back with little niggles. A lot of football blogs might say that Wenger is a little bit unreasonable in his resistance but when you look at the damage that has been done to RVP over the years while away with Holland and more recently Jack Wilshere with England, you can see where the resentment stems from.

With the likes of Arteta, Wilshere, Frimpong and Sagna all still around, this time will give Wenger a chance to work on things on the training ground while allowing those on the injury comeback some more time to build their fitness. On the back of the farce of Internationals, Wilshere, Sagna, and Frimpong will be closer to a first team return, while Szczesny and Diaby will be making progress on their injuries.

It was good to see Sagna play an hour for the U21s in midweek in the 2-0 win over Reading at Barnet. Although Jenkinson has made great strides and really stepped up to the occasions in the Frenchman’s absence, it is always nice to get a senior player back in the side. Especially one as consistent and accomplished as Sagna.

Then of course we are all looking forward to Wilshere making his return to the first team. The thought of him linking up with Carzola and Arteta in midfield is mouth-watering, and one that every fan should be excited for.

Of course it is great that we have our players representing their countries but it is nice to be a little bit more relaxed throughout the World Cup qualifiers without fearing for any injuries to key players. I know we still have a number of players who could pick up knocks, but it is good to know that we have a lot of things to look forward to on the back of next week. This international break will actually be very much welcomed!

Today’s post was brought to you courtesy of Luke Malcher at ThePlayersNet.Com . A quality football blog worth checking out.

Enjoy your day people.

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