Whilst Ivan took care of the property viewings, Arsene had a few choice words to say about things. Ahead of the Fulham clash at tea-time on Saturday, the walking wounded diminished in number although a couple are subject to fitness tests or not quite ready for the match. Andrei Arshavin is to return whilst RvP is expected to be fit, a decision expected today. Manuel Almunia is going to be missing once more but interestingly, Wenger did not say who would replace him. Logically, you would have expected Mannone but the clean sheet in midweek appears to have put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Theo Walcott is short of match fitness but may feature from the substitute’s bench. Were that to happen, you would expect him to start against Olympiacos in midweek. Whatever the case, it will be good to see put his international knack behind him and begin his season, hopefully fired up and with a point to prove.
With that out of the way, the Bordeaux chairman Jean-Louis Triaud got both barrels with Wenger very politely but very firmly telling everyone that Triaud was talking out of his arsenal when whinging earlier in the week. Moments like this, with the unedifying comments from across the Channel, make you appreciative of the silence maintained by Arsenal during transfer negotiations. With Chamakh, Wenger unusually spoke out following Bordeaux and the player deciding to go public over the whole affair. The French club has been bitten by its greed, unlikely to receive more than 1/10th of their asking price and 1/6th of Arsenal’s reported offer if they sell in January. If the player is still at the club next summer, then they get nothing. Not surprising that there is rancour of the part Triaud as he realises the importance of the money that has slipped from his grubby fingers.
Wenger subsequently moved onto the subject of how good Arsenal is, in the Premier League at least. There is no doubt he enjoys other teams attacking displays simply because it gives Arsenal more room to play. We enjoy goals, except when it’s the Arsenal getting backache from picking the ball out of the net. Actually, you don’t see that too much since custodians these days are too busy berating all and sundry, ensuring everyone knows that the goal was not their fault.
I digress. A glut of goals is symptomatic of the lost art of defending as much as the attacking prowess of forwards. The days of a defender being purely a defender have passed, for the moment at least. Full backs are expected to be as proficient going forward to supplement attacks as they are defensively. Indeed, a fair number are rather more able going forward than they are at tackling. Arsenal is little different. Sagna bucks the trend somewhat, being solid defensively but Clichy is a lively attacking full back. Defensively he is good but not as solid as his partner. That is an observation and an honest assessment of Clichy is that he is still in the top three left backs in the country at the moment.
However, to win the title requires balance, something missing from Arsenal for a couple of seasons. The introduction of Vermaelen has rectified that, positively influencing Gallas. The Belgian’s contribution is recognised but his solidity in the tackle is being matched by Gallas rediscovering his form. No doubt part of that was his personal dispute with Toure and other issues that have dogged him over the past few seasons. Criticism of the Frenchman has certainly diminished this season which is no bad thing.
Let’s hope it continues at Craven Cottage. ’til Tomorrow.