Premier League action returns with the visit of Birmingham City to The Emirates. With the injury that Johan Djourou picked up in the week and the absences of Toure and Song, Philippe Senderos has the chance to once again put himself in the spotlight and try to prove the doubters wrong about his capabilities, the only ‘specialist’ centre half at the club who is fit to play alongside William Gallas. Their last outing together was less than convincing in an overall poor team performance in Seville. Here’s to better today.
Of the other walking wounded from the Tottenham game, Robin van Persie has picked up a similar bout of ‘flu that struck down Theo Walcott recently, who in turn has recovered from his twisted ankle. It appears that van Persie is as frustrated as anyone with his lack of match action, Arsene commenting yesterday,
He is highly frustrated. You don’t see him smile. He loves football so much that he is sad when he does not play
The rest of the first team regulars have had, for the most part, ten days rest which should leave them all as fit as new born Spring Lambs, ready to tear into a Birmingham City side which will probably contain the remarkably honest Seb Larsson and Fabrice Muamba, the appearances of whom will allow us to compare and contrast and no doubt debate whether or not Arsene was right to let them go. If the former does not believe he was good enough, the latter’s departure ‘required’ the signing of Lassana Diarra, albeit seemingly as a short term solution. Arsene commented on the philosophy of resting the players,
We rested a few players recently to give them a breather mentally. It is all more mental than physical at the moment. But you still need an edge in these kinds of games and I feel that is down to how well you prepare, especially mentally. That will make the difference
There is little surprise that today’s visitors are struggling and in the relegation dogfight; it is almost expected of promoted teams from the Championship. The appointment of Alex McLeish was seen as a catalyst, kicking off with a 3 – 2 at Tottenham. Things have not run so smoothly since but their performances against the ‘big four’ this season suggest that those who are expecting a goal glut may well be disappointed; a goalless draw at Anfield, two 0 – 1 defeats to Manchester United and a 2 – 3 reverse at Stamford Bridge on the opening day suggest a tight match with a packed and hard working defence and midfield in operation.
Given the injuries and absences, the Arsenal team almost picks itself:
Almunia; Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy; Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky; Eduardo, Adebayor
With a bench of
Lehmann, Hoyte (J), Gilberto, Walcott, Bendtner
Elsewhere, Manuel Almunia has been talking again of his availability for England should Fabio Capello desire his services, whilst it appears Jens Lehmann’s proposed move to Dortmund has fallen through.
Arsene has been talking of the legacy that he wants to leave behind at Arsenal and in English football, sparked by the negotiations with Gillingham over Luke Freeman,
overall from 14 to 20 it is the best group we have had…Also we have two Under-14s players I watched play and technically they have nothing to learn. Will they be professional footballers at Arsenal? I don’t know. The more you go down [in ages] the greater the margin of error. Sometimes you see a player at 13 and you think ‘absolutely amazing’ then two years later he has disappeared.
But our target is to produce good players and I believe we are on the right road with the way we want to work throughout the Club. I know how much the English national team means here to people. To contribute to that would be a big pride as well. At the moment it is not my first responsibility. But I have been accused of only buying foreign players and I would like to contribute to the quality of English football
To feel that he has to make such a contribution is unnecessary. He has done so already by predominantly signing foreign players; the message is clear – English players are not technically good enough and need to improve their standards before being considered. Simple really.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ‘til Tomorrow.