Olsson, Gnabry, Ozil and Mertesacker (kind of) in training yesterday
Hello and good morning to you all. After yesterday’s lack of Arsenal news it seems that today there is an abundance of it, meaning there’s plenty to discuss ahead of tonight’s Capital ‘Nobody-Cares-But-Liverpool’ One Cup game away to Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.
The boss had his usual pre-match conference yesterday and gave a load of hints to how the team might set out today. He gave an update on the injury front, talking about the players that are still out and when they might be due back, saying
Rosicky is the first back [of the injured players], but not in time for this week. He could come back in the squad for Sunday or Monday.
It’s fine, they [Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby] are doing well but they are nowhere near ready. The next one back [of those three] might be Lukas. Alex will be one and a half months more.
Fabianski and Viviano are the two goalkeepers in the squad.
Rosicky will most likely be in the squad next week but I doubt he’ll be anything more than an option on the bench. As for Podolski, I did hear a few weeks ago that his progress was going extremely well and would be back sooner than expected so hopefully that’s the case as we’re beginning to look thin on our wings. To make matters worse, the boss confirmed Theo Walcott’s need for surgery, he said
Theo will be out for a few weeks. He has developed some damage to his posterior abdominal wall. It’s not a hernia, but it’s a little structural problem in his abdomen.
Apparently Wenger went ballistic when he heard the news, effing and blinding like a mad man and who can blame him? In terms of front three we now only have Giroud and Bendtner up front and Gnabry and Miyaichi as our only recognised wingers. Yes, Wilshere has been doing a good job there but it’s hard to deny that we’re looking incredibly thin from an attacking perspective. We do have Rosicky and Cazorla returning to the side in a matter of weeks but until then we’re going to have to make do with what we have.
Based on the Stoke game you can imagine that Theo’s injury represents a chance for Serge Gnabry to show his ability to the manager and the fans. He’s been dominating the U21s league for two seasons now and looked solid in our pre-season tour of Asia, too. I’ve long been a fan of him and questioned why he hasn’t played more from the bench but now it seems circumstances has given him a fantastic opportunity and he’s gotta take it with both hands. The manager thinks he’s ready and capable to face such a big challenge, saying
I believe against Stoke what I liked in his game is that he grew through the game, he became better and better.
He has the quality to be creative because he can dribble, he can run with the ball, he can be a good passer and he is a great finisher, on that front, once the confidence level [rises] he will be alright. His physical qualities, his technical qualities are at the requested level.
And believe me when I say that they certainly are at the requested level. People were full of praise after the Stoke game for the young German but you’ve not seen anywhere near what he’s capable of. Right now I think he’s playing with a bit of pressure and is perhaps a bit timid, probably both due to a fear of making a mistake. Once he finds himself and gets the confidence flowing through him, you’ll be really surprised at just how good of a player he actually is.
In terms of who else might start the game, Wenger has pretty much outlined how he’s going to approach the game so it’s not hard to work it out. He said
I will try to find a good balance between experience and youth, at the back you will have players you know well. Up front, you have a bit more improvisation and young players.
You will see Gnabry again – everybody knows him already. Maybe the return of Bendtner as well, who will get a chance. That’s the kind of team we will have.
We want to win this competition as well. I try to find the right balance between giving a needed breather to some players like Wilshere and Ramsey, who have given a lot.
Having a solid defence will give us the best chance of not conceding any goals, which is first and foremost an essential target today. We’ll almost certain to score a goal so getting a clean sheet is crucial in terms of a final result. Giving Wilshere and Ramsey rests is a no brainer as they’ve both played their socks off in recent games so a well deserved rest should be on the cards.
Considering the manager will have one eye on Saturday’s game against Swansea and another on Tuesday’s game against Napoli, you have to imagine he’ll try and rest a number of players to give us the best chance of winning both games. Therefore I can see us lining up something like this
Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal
Gnabry, Bendtner, Miyaichi
I can imagine our bench will be pretty strong but the manager will be hesitant against using anybody unless absolutely necessary. I think perhaps Ozil and even Flamini could come off at some point just for the sake of keeping them fresh for Saturday but generally speaking that’ll be the team for the majority of the game. It’s certainly got enough talent and ability to beat West Brom, but whether or not it happens is a different story.
The big questions surround Bendtner, who has a lot to prove after a few chaotic years at the club with much controversy, loan deals and problems. Wenger seems to be bigging up Bendtner, as he does with all his players I guess who are short of confidence, saying
I personally believe in his qualities. It’s just down to attitude and fighting [spirit]. When he has that, Nicklas can be an unstoppable striker. He gets his chance. Our job is about that. Take your chance.
I see him as a centre forward he can use his body [with his] back to goal. He’s an intelligent player, he can play intelligent passes and protect. He’s a similar type size-wise to Olivier Giroud. The central role is perfect for him.
Bendtner’s ability has never really been in doubt it’s just always been his application. He’s got 45 goals and 26 assists for the club, that’s a direct contribution of 71 goals which shows he isn’t completely shit. One thing that will work in his favour is that, as the boss points out, he is very similar to Giroud. That means the squad will already be able to play to his strengths whereas before we was more suited to van Persie’s style of play.
Wenger talks about chances and that if he takes his chance he’ll win over the fans and he’s absolutely right. Stranger things have happened but who’s to say Bendtner can’t help us over the course of the season and recapture the form and ability we all know he has? Damn my optimism!
Anyway, that’s all for today, my prediction is a scrappy 2-1 win with a Bendtner and Ozil goal. Question marks will be over who is captain of the game if both Vermaelen and Merteascker play but I think our original captain will get the nod, regardless of whether or not he’s been out of the squad for so long.
COME ON YOU GOONERS!