Sometimes Wenger gives an interview, and you learn nothing. Other days, he may say fewer words, but what he says speaks volumes.
Take his recent comments about how Arsenal are still going for all four trophies, despite some lacklustre performances in the cups which may have some people questioning the validity of that statement.
“Our success depends on the way the whole squad can focus on the different competitions. I believe we have the quality to qualify no matter what I do on Wednesday. It’s just how much we are able to focus on the competition.
“The timing is not the best but it is down to us because we could have beaten Leeds at home. We didn’t manage to do that but now there’s no reason why we should give up.
“I will prepare [for] this game to win it then we will see. It is important we go there with a positive attitude.”
While I don’t think you will get anyone disagreeing with the theory of rotation, even Wenger himself has said that any more than a couple of changes is usually too much for the team to absorb. With Sagna fresh from a three-match ban, there is no reason we should not replace Eboue immediately. Van Persie is hitting form, and while we know that every extra minute he plays is another minute closer to him disintegrating, we also know that with Robin, he could injure himself simply waking up in the morning. Chamakh has been rested after his hectic and tough start to life in the Premier League so he can replace Bendtner and would show a far higher work-rate, and I don’t know anyone at the minute who wouldn’t prefer to see Rosicky in for Arshavin. There is no denying that Arshavin can make something happen in the blink of an eye and that Tom hasn’t scored in what seems like an eternity, but when you are playing against a team such as Leeds, you have to know that the side you put out will, at the very least, match their work-rate.
I read earlier on The Goon Blog that post-Ipswich the players were miffed by the fact that Arsene wasn’t angry at all. At a time when fans were ripping the internet to shreds in a fit of rage, to hear that Wenger was so calm may strike some as concerning and others as simply an indicator that he doesn’t care.
I don’t think it was either of those things. Sure, he should be angry that most of the team had all but refused to play anything resembling football in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, but he also knows that the main culprits, Arshavin, Denilson, Eboue, and Bendtner, are all replaceable with better, more dedicated players. While not ideal, he knows that if he substitutes Nasri, Song, Sagna, and Chamakh (or Van Persie) he instantly rejuvenates the entire team.
Let’s be clear, I’m not endorsing Wenger not being annoyed, and we don’t know the full story. But what we do know is that Arsene has never been the type of man who thinks that screaming like a demented drunk will get things done. That’s only one step away from bullying, his ways have always been more sedate, more calm. More Zen. Perhaps we should have started calling him Arzen a long time ago. It would suit Chris Waddle that’s for sure (who, if you don’t know already, spent the entire West Ham v Arsenal match calling us Arzil).
The Goonblog has also reported that Samir is currently playing with an ankle injury, so of course, it is not ideal for him to play in extra matches. But needs must, and if Wenger wants a trophy, any trophy, simply to get that monkey off his back, he is going to have to look at playing our stronger players. At the minute, we can cope with around two of the four mentioned above, putting in all four at one time is simply too much for the rest of the team to try and cover.
Hate me for saying it if you want, but it’s true. I can keep telling you over, and over, and over that I’m a supermodel, but there’s gonna come a time when you’re going to want to see some evidence to back up this claim. The same with Arshavin, Bendtner, Denilson, and Eboue. They have failed to show that, recently at least in the case of some of them, that they are up to the task of being a Premier League footballer at Arsenal.
Of course, there is the old adage about needing a run of games to get some form, but that doesn’t explain away a lack of effort or focus.
No sir, it does not.
Early team news and TR7 will be available for our replay v Leeds on Wednesday night after missing out at West Ham for unspecified reasons.
Further to the piece I brought you yesterday about Vermaelen’s injury and operation, the Belgian seems to think that he will be out until March. Given that this is an Arsenal injury, I think it’s safe to say that we simply write his season off here and now and look at how we’re going to cover for him.
We’ve done a decent job up until now, but the injury to Squillaci shows what a fine line we are walking. Djourou, who was initially brought back in fits and starts is now playing regularly, and while there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to play twice a week for the next five months, it is tempting the ninja a little bit more than I would like.
You would have thought that if Wenger believed that Miquel was ready we would have seen him against Ipswich, and as each game becomes worth more, there is less and less chance of ‘trying him out.’ The thought of moving Song back there and replacing him with Denilson just makes me want to cry. I want to like Denilson, but the truth is he takes away from our midfield more than he adds, and the understanding that Jack and Song have in there alongside Cesc is worth more the £10m or so needed to buy a centre-back.
That elusive centre-back huh? I really don’t think we are going to see one arrive in this window, and while I’d love to be wrong, Wenger must be having palpitations at the thoughts of having to purchase a third centre-back in the same season. Add that to spending money and eek, that’s just a panic attack waiting to happen.
Prove me wrong Arsene, please. Please. Please.
In other news, Theo has been talking about how the Arsenal we saw against West Ham is the real Arsenal. Maybe it has something to do with Theo Van Nasregas playing and how they make us a completely different entity than when we play Arshbend Denboue (yes, I know how that sounds), but whatever it is, Theo acknowledges that something wasn’t right:
“That [was] not the Arsenal we know in the last couple of games. This was the real Arsenal though. In the last two matches, mentally we weren’t right. But that’s out of the way now, in the past. No disrespect to Leeds and Ipswich and their ranking, but we should be getting better results.”
Should indeed Theo, should indeed.
Theo has also been talking about he believes we have the best strike force in the league, and this does seem to be born out by the facts that we’ve scored more goals than everyone else. A really interesting stat that I heard at the weekend, especially as we all seem to be under the illusion that Arsenal are reluctant to take on a shot when a tippy-tappy pass can be found, is that we have had more shots from outside the area than anyone else as well.
Interesting from Twitter:
RT @Optajoe: @Persie_Official has hit the woodwork every 452 minutes, more regularly than any other Premier League player since August 2007 .
LA – That’s some going when you consider that he has only played 70 (56 starts, 14 sub appearances) out of a possible 152 league games. Put it another way, he has hit the woodwork more than any other player and he has only played in 46% of the matches and has only started 36%.
RT @Optajoe: All five penalties Arsenal have been awarded this season in the Premier League have been taken by different players.
RT @Optajoe: Arsenal completed 156 passes (excl. crosses) in the first half v West Ham, compared to only 66 by the home side.
RT @Optajoe: Arsenal have now kept three successive clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time since February 2009.
RT @Optajoe: Only Manchester City and Arsenal (21 each) have picked up more points away from home than Blackpool (17).
RT @Orbinho: Robin van Persie scored his 50th and 51st League goals v West Ham – the fifth player to pass this milestone in the Premier League era.
LA – think how quickly he could have got there if he’d a) been fit and b) hadn’t been denied so much by the woodwork.
RT @Orbinho – (v West Ham) This was the 5th time Arsenal have had double figures for shots on target overall in the Premier League this season and the 2nd time against West Ham.
RT @Orbinho: On this Arsenal day 2010 Arsenal beat Bolton 2-0 at the Reebok in Owen Coyle’s first game as manager.------------
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