Apologies for the lack of blogging yesterday, I’ll not bore you with details of my illness, although some of you might find it funny as it causes me to fall over a lot and look as if I’m hammered without taking a drink, but it put me out of action for two days and then I had to spend yesterday playing catch-up.
Do you care? Nah, didn’t think so. On to the football.
As the dust around our draw with Leeds in the FA Cup settles, we are looking through the haze towards our semi-final against an Ipswich side which were absolutely battered by Chelsea in the FA Cup yesterday.
As we know, teams make changes for cup matches, and with Ipswich being only two games away from a prestigious trip to Wembley you have to think that they will put far more emphasis on their tie with us than they did for the game against Chelsea in which they got absolutely hammered 7-0. More on that tomorrow.
News of the day surrounds Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and the fact that he is now training with Arsenal. Anyone hoping that you might see him sign a Beckham-style deal which would allow him to take to the field for Arsenal for a few matches will be sad to hear that his parent club, the New York Red Bulls, have confirmed that he is ‘forbidden’ to take to the pitch in a competitive match for Arsenal.
Arsenal are unique in that we have a number of strikers who seem to prefer to play a pass than score a goal (perhaps slightly harsh on Chamakh that) apart from Bendtner who can do neither. Not only can Henry pass on some of his goal-scoring wisdom, he can also regale them all with tales of world cup wins, invincibility, and double-winning exploits, which will hopefully give them all enough of a taste to make them want it themselves.
In transfer news it seems that we may be forced in to the market sooner rather than later as Squillaci joins Vermaelen in the treatment room with a hamstring injury. Hamstrings are a minimum of two weeks, unless you get troublesome ones like Cesc’s, so that leaves us with two centrebacks for the immediate future, one of whom has just returned back from a year out and has been eased in gently. Lose one of Djourou or Kos (injury or suspension) and we are playing Song in defense with Denilson pretending to be a defensive midfielder.
Not an ideal situation.
Many names have been bandied around, the usual suspects, but no doubt if we do sign someone, it will be a player we know little about. That being said, while it is never ideal to purchase players in January, Wenger has been known to splash the cash with Arshavin, Reyes, and Adebayor all being purchased in the winter window.
I had heard talk about Sol Campbell being unhappy and wanting a return to Arsenal, but I can’t find that story anywhere and fear I might have dreamt it which is very disappointing – dreams should be far more exciting than an old centreback possibly wanting to return to a club he’s not long left.
Speaking of players who arrived in Januarys past, and it seems that Arsene is not worried about Arshavin unlike most of the Arsenal supporters. Yes, on his day, he is out of this world, his ability to pick a pass only matched by Cesc, and his finishing can be world-class at times. But his stats will show you that lately he has not been hitting his own heights, and when you tie that in with his apparent ‘couldn’t give a fuck’ attitude on the pitch, it is clear why fans are getting frustrated with the Russian. You could say that it is just a slump, but apart from the first few months after he first arrived, lazy has been the order of the day with Arshavin. Having said that, his return has always been superb, but if Arsenal are planning to play a pressing game akin to Barcelona, where attackers are expected to defend as much as defenders are expected to attack. Arshavin isn’t really this sort of player so he could find himself on the bench more and more as the season wears on.
Speaking about Arshavin, Wenger said “Every player during a season has strong and weaker periods and he’s had a weaker period. Plus he’s had two or three weeks on the bench. I’ve no worries that he will come back into the team. But his confidence suffers a little bit from that.”
I could go in to the fact that a lot of his time at Arsenal could be viewed as a ‘weaker’ period, but then someone will through his excellent goals and assist record at me (which doesn’t tell the whole story) and it’s hard to argue.
I can’t help it if I prefer a player who puts in 100% each time he takes to the pitch.
Future Arsenal number one, Chesney, who should be getting a second game in a row when we face Ipswich, has been talking about how he is confident that we will overcome Leeds in the FA Cup replay. This boy has no issues with confidence whatsoever, but unlike some others, he has the performances and ability to back it up. I would expect him to be tested more at Leeds than he was at the Emirates, but I have no doubt that he will be able to cope and make it look easy as he does so.
Should we manage to overcome Leeds, Huddersfield and Benik Afobe await us in the next round. Given that we’ve had to face Sanchez Watt in the third round, and possibly Afobe in the fourth, if we can have a look around and see where our players are scattered on loan we could perhaps plot our route to the final.
In news away from Arsenal, it was announced that Lionel Messi finished the year as Europe’s best performing player for 2010. His 34-goal haul in La Liga was the joint highest goals tally for a season across the top five European leagues in the past 20 years (joint with Ronaldo (the fat one) in 96/97, Shearer in 94/95, and Andy Cole in 93/94). In fact, Messi’s total was last bettered in the 1989/90 season by Hugo Sanchez. Add on to Messi’s total another 12 that he got in the Champions League (say thank you to Arsenal Lionel) and you learn that only five players in the HISTORY of football have bettered his goals total. A spectacular achievement.
The Ballon D’or winner will be announced at some point today and you’d have to say Messi should be favourite, although the World Cup win might sway it towards Xavi or Inniesta. Who knows how they work these things out.
The top performer player plying his trade in the Premier League was Fat Frank, coming in third in the Castrol rankings and while there were seven players from the Premier League in the top 20, not one of them was from Arsenal. With Nani making an appearance at number 18, I would expect that this time next year we will be talking about the inclusion of Samir Nasri should his form continue.
That’s it from me. More on the Carling Cup semi-final first leg tomorrow, but until then, have a good one.
Interesting from Twitter:
RT @Orbinho: Paul Jewell, new boss of Ipswich, was manager of Wigan when they knocked Arsenal out of the Carling Cup in the semi-finals in 2005-06.
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