Please beat Norwich, Jack back in squad – AFC

Saturday is here at last, my god it’s been a long wait. International football has had its turn, overstayed its welcome but now we can get back into the routine. Despite pulling out its trump card and honouring us with a Wednesday game due to rain, roofs and all sorts we all wanted it over and out the way. Next up for the gunners is Norwich at Carrow road, a game on paper we should win but a game based on last seasons’ battles will be hard fought and the boys will have to be on it from the off.

I have a personal interest in beating Norwich after my experience in the game at emirates last season. That game happened to be the closest I have ever sat to away fans and it really got the blood pumping though the ups and downs. The banter was full on and I found it hard to take when their fans were goading us. Although we didn’t lose the game the draw at the time put our champions league fate in the hands of other teams and the Norwich fans weren’t holding back with their rendition of the ‘Thursday nights channel five’ song. Luckily for us Spurs and Newcastle tried their best to outdo us in the crap results competition.

Like a kid that wants to get one up on their rival I will not be happy unless we achieve 6 points from the canaries this season. Today’s game will be the start for me and the return game at emirates will be the icing on the cake. I want to give it back to their fans; I owe it to them to rub it in their faces.

Now with the personal rant over, the standout topic of the team news that has been resonating since yesterday afternoon is the news that Jack Wilshere has been included in the match day squad for today’s game. Arsene did his best to play down any talk of jack playing before our carling Capital One cup fixture at the end of the month however Jack’s agent had a different idea. Through Twitter his agent Simon Bayliff let the cat out of the bag that the midfielder has indeed been included in the squad travelling to Norfolk.

That surely didn’t go down well with the folk at arsenal, teams news should really be revealed by the people in charge i.e. wenger. Jack’s agent will be sure to hear from the arsenal men about his future tweets regarding his client. Being in the match day squad is no guarantee Jack will even be on the bench for the game today. Wenger could have been telling the truth about his plans for jack and his involvement in the squad could be merely part of the process of integrating him back into the old routine. There’s no guarantee his inclusion is blocking any current fit players, there are sure to be a few spaces due to injuries to some key personnel. I would not expect jack to be involved today even if he is named as sub (unless we are cruising 4-0 ahead with 10 minutes to go). I see no need to rush him back any sooner than needed though I wouldn’t be surprised if the player himself is screaming for the chance to pull on the jersey again for a top flight game.

From the rest of the squad there is no surprise that Theo Walcott will not be involved, Kieran Gibbs looks to miss out after the injury that ruled him out of the England squad hasn’t cleared up yet. The goalkeeping situation hasn’t changed so Mannone will be between the sticks and at the back Koscienly is a doubt but not ruled out, a late fitness check will probably decide on his involvement today.

In today’s team I’m hoping Andre Santos can seize this opportunity, he has been very much a peripheral figure so far this season due to the form of Gibbs so I’m hoping he can take note of Carl Jenkinson on the other flank and give Wenger some future headache problems. Olivier Giroud will be going into the game with full confidence after his goal at west ham before the break and his midweek goal against Spain. If he starts the Norwich defence will have a game on their hands. They got Grant Holt but we’ve got Giroud, No comparison really.

With all the talk focused on Jack Wilshere it is not known if Bacary Sagna is included in the squad also. Both players completed 90 minutes in midweek and I would place both at the same stage in their recovery. I suppose the one sticking point is would Wenger risk Sagna’s first game to be against the very team his leg was broken against? probably not but the Frenchman is not far away from 1st team duties.

Enjoy your day people. Wish the gunners luck on operation Norwich 6 points.

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Carl Jenkinson: not ready for England

The international break is trudging along at a snail-like pace and boring the pants off premiership football fans across the land. I know there are those of you out there that actually have a concerted interest in their national team’s fortunes and follow their games at the same level as they would a club at domestic level. Don’t get me wrong I’m fully behind England and want them qualify for the world cup I just wish I had the equivalent of a Sky +/Tivo remote so that I could fast forward past all the advert like qualifiers and get straight to the good stuff: the finals.

Now with most of our squad away with their national teams the focus over the past few days has been focused on those players who have not been called up to their national squads; most notably Carl Jenkinson and Mikel Arteta. Our rejuvenated full back Jenkinson has been the subject of many pundits opinion on whether he should pledge his future to England before Finland snap him. As we all know he qualifies for Finland through his mother and has represented Finland for the majority of his youth up to U-21 level.

I have been very impressed with Carl Jenkinson this season along with everyone else who has watched him. I feel his performances have been deserving of the plaudits but I do feel the England calls have been very knee jerk which is a common fault with the English press/pundit system. We are quick to jump on the bandwagon of any players that emerge and tend to throw them to the top of the tree before they have had a chance to prove themselves. Maybe I’m old school but I feel some players are elevated to international football far too quickly; we end up with a high number of players on the scrap heap with a few international caps because they were thrown in the deep end and then the national exposure highlighted parts of their game that was not up to standard yet. There is no patience playing for England, its sink or swim and many a time players sink because it’s too much too soon. There’s nothing to say they will not be great players but my argument is that a good start to the season should not mean a starting spot for your national team. An apprenticeship should be followed; if a player is under 21 he should play for the under-21’s at some point then experience being called up to the full squad to train with the seniors but not play any games for a few call ups until they are deemed by the manager to be on same wavelength as the senior players.

Many players that are deemed true talent are fast tracked straight into the full squad, our own jack wilshere is one of those players who bypassed his apprenticeship but his quality was evident from the off and he definitely swam when thrown in. when you see a player like Raheem Sterling who in my opinion is going to be a massive player seeing him in England squads already is a bit of an insult.

We must also consider that the fast tracking and avoiding the apprenticeship can have a detrimental effect on the player’s psychology. When you give a young player too much too soon it can harm their career as they lose their humbleness and start believing they have made it, they are surrounded by people telling them how great they are, they are representing their country and everything seems easy before their career has even started. David Bentley could be an example of such a player, where is he now? Despite being a complete knob he did have talent but he believed he was the next David Beckham without putting in the work David Beckham did to become…David Beckham. Now he is trying to reinvent his career somewhere in Russia.

oh dear…

Now the example I used for Raheem Sterling is possibly one similar to Carl Jenkinson, the England hierarchy want to secure their services for England before they pledge to their other eligible countries (Jamaica and Finland). But I feel despite the possible chance of missing out on a player because they are offered international football a lot sooner; it says a lot more about the player’s character. If you have real plans to be a top player then im sorry Finland and Jamaica are just not going to put you there. If you as a player really want to reach the top and England is your option then you must be prepared to wait for when you are ready to represent England and not settle for the easy option elsewhere.

Its playing for England that will give you the opportunities to play in international tournament showpieces (how well they do when they get there is another story). But it is the utmost importance that when representing your country you have earned the right and have not got there by default. A player like Stephen Warnock at Aston Villa was part of the England squad during the world cup in 2010, today if you ask anyone their opinion of the player you will struggle to find anything positive said about him. Had he become a bad player overnight or was he never good enough to start with?

Now is Carl Jenkinson a player good enough to play for England? The answer is yes. Is he ready to be England’s first choice right back? I would say no. I have to take my arsenal tinted glasses off and admit there are English right backs well ahead of him at this time. Carl has had a great start to the season and what he needs to do is put the international talk aside and focus on building on his development this season. The only real test this season he should face is the competition when Bac Sagna returns to the first team squad. England selection is not a burden he needs right now, his fight is for the right back spot at arsenal is. If he can overcome that hurdle then he may be ready to move on to the next stage which is international football.

Sagna – soon to fight for his spot back

In fairness Jenkinson has played down the England talk and I hope he continues to do so. I do believe in him but I just don’t want him to be thrown in the deep end before his time. He has made a great start to the season but it is only 7 or so games this season I believe he needs to continue on this season as he’s going then maybe come end of the season the England people can really assess his capabilities. It was good he wasn’t included in latest squad, at the moment he is first choice at Arsenal by default but let’s see if by end of season he is first choice by merit.

NB: No disrespect is meant in this post to Finland or Jamaica. If a player feels strongly enough to represent their country of birth then fair play to them.

Enjoy your day people.

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Positive vibes as Wilshere and Frimpong continue recovery – AFC

Great to have Jack Wilshere back. Given the lows felt by the home defeat by Chelsea at the weekend it is a welcomed change to have some positive news to kick-start the week. Jack was able to turn out for the reserves in the u-21 premier league yesterday to move to the next stage of his rehabilitation. After so many false dawns and the desperation to have him in our side last season the sight of jack doing his thing in the arsenal midfield was the biggest indication yet that his return will be a reality.

Although it’s slightly early to even think of him gracing the first team it’s great for all arsenal fans to see him making a return to the field. Although given the time he has been out there’s the possibility of minor reactions to the run out. Things will be clearer by today as to how his legs reacted to the appearance against West Brom. It’s not often an arsenal result takes second billing but in yesterdays case it was all about jack coming through the game in one piece. The fact we lost pales in significance to jacks development; those 63 minutes he spent on the pitch could be one of the most important moments in arsenal’s season.

The best thing for jack this season is the fact that we are well stocked in midfield, the fans are not screaming out for his return. Arsene can wrap cotton wool around him and nurture his rehabilitation without the added pressure of needing to be rushed into the first team. The vultures from the England H.Q may cast a glancing eye on his development salivating in the anticipation of his return to the England midfield but I fully expect Arsene to ensure there is no return before he is ready.

I’m happy for jack as a person more than anything that he is close to getting his career back on track. It has no doubt been a long road to recovery and now he is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a shame that the fans couldn’t be there to cheer on our no.10 but a 2pm kick off on a Monday is a tough ask for the arsenal faithful (and being an away game), after all we need to work to be able to buy our competitively priced tickets at emirates. Maybe the added pressure of a big crowd was not called for and a lower key run out was more beneficial. To see jack not quite pulling off what we have come accustomed to seeing from him may take some getting used to. He will be rusty for sure, he needs time to get his groove back and some more games will definitely help him shake off the rust and the class return.

Emmanuel Frimpong’s first start was probably slightly overshadowed by his close friends return. Frimpong managed to last 70 minutes of the game and is clearly ahead of Wilshere in the recovery stages. His possible return is probably not soon enough to cover the void left by Abou Diaby’s current injury but he will relish more opportunities in the Carling Capital One cup and forge his way back into first team reckoning. His knees have held up and I hope that after suffering two long term knee related injuries in recent years his competitive edge doesn’t subside. It will surely play on his mind but I hope in between all the TV appearances and Dench promotion Frimpong has taken the time away from football to reflect and focus on what he can achieve in his arsenal career and how he can achieve it. Strong mental attitude is a trait Wenger likes in his players and that is exactly what our midfield general will need to call upon to get over the understandable psychological limitations that could hinder his game.

Enough of putting a dampener on Frimpong; it’s great to have him and Jack back on reserve level duty and getting past their injuries. The fans are 100% behind you guys, take your time, don’t rush back too soon, we want you both 100% ready. Dench…

Enjoy your day people

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Song to leave after all, Vermaelen captain, Jack the new no.10 – AFC

Robin Van Persie news aside it’s quite exciting that the start of the new premiership season has finally arrived. The break in the season has been quite adequately filled through a combination of European championships and the Olympic games but now its time to get down to the real stuff. Sunderland will come a knocking on the Emirates door and the Arsenal faithful will be turning up in their droves to witness what is hoped to be a new dawn. Another captain has gone, Alex Song could soon follow, quality players have been brought in yet we are still in a much better position than last season. The transfer business seems far from done but the preparation for the new season has been a lot more balanced and I cant see why will not end the 1st game of the season with 3 points on the board. I’ve got my ticket for the game and cant wait to take my place in the north bank and soak up the pre match buzz; A chance to see the new boys in the flesh and welcome Thomas Vermaelen as our new skipper.


Although it was quite obvious Tom would take on the role once van persie was gone we still awaited the official announcement which was revealed yesterday on the official website. The poisoned chalice has been passed on and I hope that now Vermaelen has taken on the role he doesn’t follow the embarrassing trend of leaving next summer. Vermaelen was the only real contender for the role since he was vice captain last season, he leads by example and typifies the kind of fighting spirit football fans love. Mikel Arteta has been promoted to vice captain and he is another player who fits the mould, I would have chosen either Arteta or Song for the role as vice captain but since the revelation that Song may move on he has voluntarily opted out of the reckoning.

On the song topic we have moved from two days ago when Alex Song revealed his love for the club and how happy he was to yesterday’s admission by Arsene Wenger than there is every chance that Song could leave. In yesterday’s press conference Wenger backed up his admission of Song’s departure with:

“Midfield is an area where we have much more freedom to make decisions”

That answer was in conjunction with the potential acquisition of Nuri Sahin. So it seems we may lose our Cameroonian enforcer but gain a new member in the Real Madrid midfielder. Not a like for like replacement as Wenger maybe has plans for other players currently in the squad to step into that defensive role. Francis Coquelin could continue his development and rise to the challenge if thrown into the role. Wenger revealed Emmanuel Frimpong is three weeks away from starting training which is great news and then we also have Abou Diaby’s return to fitness. On paper we are well stocked for that position in reality it’s not that simple, could interest in Yann M’vila be reignited? Possibly especially since Arsene has a spare £24m in his back pocket now.

In another bit of interesting news, the squad numbers have been updated for the new season and the no.10 shirt which we all thought was being reserved for Lukas Podolski has actually been awarded to Jack Wilshere. A great honour for the young Englishman and the sooner we see him donning that shirt and restoring some legendary status back to that number after it was tarnished by the previous tenant the better.

Jack was overly pleased with the number and explained:

“It’s such an honor for me,”

“Getting the No 10 shirt again at the Club means so much to me as I wore it all through the youth teams at Arsenal.”

Nice touch Jack and I’m sure you will do the shirt service like the last Dutch legend DB10 as he revealed:

“It has a special place for all attacking or creative players. I feel proud to wear it now after some real Club legends have worn it, such as Dennis Bergkamp.”

Podolski has taken up the no.9 shirt after Park was demoted moved to no.30 the move makes sense. No.9 is one of the premier attacking numbers and it would be fitting it went to a player more likely to be in the starting XI. Park appears to be on borrowed time and will probably move on by the time the transfer window closes.

Francis Coquelin has also been rewarded for his rise through the ranks and into 1st team recognition by taking on Gael Clichy’s old number 22.

I hope you guys have done your fantasy league teams for the new season. I decided to finalize mine last night to avoid a possible meltdown of the fantasy premier league website as many of the last minute fans rush to register their team. The exact thing happened last year and the website was forced to start the season a week later to compensate. Get ’em in early to avoid disappointment, use the details below:

Join my mini league  at and prove you have what it takes. Join the Gambeano Snitch league with the following entry code: 377771-102013.

Register, create your team then click join a league and enter the code when prompted.

Depending on numbers there may be a prize available for the overall winner. Prize TBC

It’s free to join, you have nothing to lose!!

Enjoy the first day of the new season people

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Jack to miss season start, M’Vila interest over? AFC

So Sunday 1st July greets us with depressing news. News that our very own Jack Wilshere could actually be sidelined for longer than expected and any sign of a return may not be before September. The mirror paper reports his rehabilitation from the operation he had back in May would take up to 12 weeks and that would effectively rule him out of the start of the season. Not ideal as it would have been more beneficial if Jack had a full pre-season behind him making him ready for the new season rather than joining the first team well into the season and having to hit the ground running. Jack is so important to Arsenal and its future however can we afford to ease him back into the team; early season is so fast paced the risk to jack’s ankle with be very high.

With England in desperate need of a saviour to ignite a new dawn under Roy Hodgson it is very likely he will be thrown into international football at first opportunity.

Although this is quite worrying news for Arsenal fans to digest I am sure this information has been known to Arsenal management. What they have planned in light of this information is not known but there has to be a contingency plan in pace in terms of cover. As we learned with Aaron Ramsey last season having to rely on a player who has returned from a long term injury and throwing them straight into the deep end not only hurts the player but hurts the team also. Through no fault of Ramsey himself his contribution to Arsenal midfield was under the microscope more than usual due to our poor preparation and start to last season.

Arsenal fans wanted answers and Ramsey’s form was highlighted, with the loss of important personnel from our midfield that season Ramsey wasn’t the afforded the luxury of being eased back into the team. This is a similar scenario that could be faced by Wilshere for Arsenal and England. This situation has to be handled with the upmost sensitivity or we could risk losing the player longer or denting his confidence to critical levels if he doesn’t reach the high levels he set before the injuries as soon as possible. A year is a hell of a long time to be out through injury and ring rustiness is inevitable I just hope Arsene has everything under control.

In light of the sombre news we were all waving off Yossi Benayoun to pastures new. Could he have been able cover until jack is back up and running? Would Yossi himself be happy effectively keeping the seat warm for Jack until he is back to full fitness? It seems with the Jack news that our transfer business this summer will be far from over. Who has wenger got his eyes on to fill the void, will there be a promotion within. Could Henri Lansbury receive the opportunity to prove himself at last in the Arsenal midfield or will the returning Denilson play a part this season. Not to mention Francis Coquelin and Abou Diaby being in Arsene’s thoughts.

One player who seems to have fallen out of Arsene’s thoughts is Yann M’vila. It seems the young midfielder’s behaviour at Euro 2012 hasn’t gone down well with our manager. His reaction to a substitution in France’s game against Spain didn’t go unnoticed and may have harmed his chances of a move to the Emirates this summer. One thing Arsene doesn’t do is babysit troublesome souls, any sign of petulance and the front door shuts on that player. Will be a shame to lose out on a player we need though it will be important that the squad isn’t ego driven and actually has some togetherness.

With the transfer window now open we will see how the transfer dealings pan out before season start. We leave it into Arsene’s hands. Arsene knows…

Enjoy your day people

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