Saturday, 11 September 2010

Wenger backs Jack, Koscielny's five week wait, Theo's mental strength

Morning Gooners.

The main talking point ahead of the Bolton game this afternoon is the omission of Jack Wilshere from the England under-21 side which played Portugal last week.

Arsene Wenger was asked yesterday at his pre-match press conference whether Jack's head was in the right place after Stuart Pearce questioned his state of mind following his arrest the previous weekend.

"I was surprised when Pearce said that Jack has taken his eye off the ball and I am pleased with the player's reaction to being dropped.
"I have spoken to Jack this week and he is totally focused in training. He always was. He wants to do well and is a happy man on the pitch.
"I have not spoken to Pearce. He has to deal with the players when he has them at his disposal. And I deal with them when I have them.
"It looked to me that Wilshere was between the senior England team and the Under-21s.
"The Under-21s wanted him and then they decided not to play him against Portugal because of that story.
"As for the rest, I don't want to be involved in all that. I don't think it needs any more comment."
As I said in the blog yesterday, the one young player who will make it at Arsenal because of his attitude is Jack Wilshere. I think Stuart Pearce was wrong to drop him and I don't think his reason for doing so was down to what he saw on the training pitch ahead of the under-21 game.

I get the impression it was personal and there is something that Pearce doesn't like about Jack. I may be totally wrong, but from everything I hear about Jack Wilshere, the one thing he is totally focused on doing is playing football.

There is more on this story in The Guardian, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail.

The manager has also been speaking about Theo Walcott and how he will return from injury needing to be treated both physically and mentally.

Theo could be out for the best part of six weeks following an ankle injury he picked up in England's game with Switzerland.

Wenger admitted the injury could knock Theo back mentally as well. He said:
"The mental side is always a question mark when a player get injuries.
"When you are a manager and you see an injury doesn't harm the career of a player, you are happy. After that the only unknown quantity is how much it will damage his confidence in the box, on tackling and all that.
"Ideally, you do not want a player to be injured many times by bad tackles.
"However, I believe Theo will deal well with that because he has done it before."
Elsewhere the manager talks goalkeepers with the Daily Mirror and the official site. Almunia now has a big opportunity on his hands. Play consistently well for the first half of the season and the manager won't consider buying someone. Drop a few clangers and he'll be off in the January transfer window.

To be fair to the Spaniard, I think he's started the season well. Apart from the first goal at Anfield, and maybe I'm being harsh when I say he should have done better, I think he's looked solid.

Can't fault him for the Blackburn goal and he had a clean sheet against Blackpool. We just need to keep it up.
Ahead of the game, the manager - apparently with a straight face - has said that Kevin Davies is NOT a dirty player. Perhaps he's not dirty in an El-Hadji Diouf way but he does have a bit of the Alan Shearers about him with his pointy elbows.

Opta Joe has an interesting stat though. Davies has been booked nine times against us - more than any other club he's played against.

I'm sure Sebastien Squillaci has been warned what to expect.

There is an interesting read with Squillaci's defensive partner for the game later Laurent Koscielny in the Daily Telegraph.

He talks about how the transfer to Arsenal game about, waiting for the clubs to agree a fee - which took five weeks, and meeting Arsene Wenger in Paris and being wooed by him.

On the circumstance of the move, he said:
"I was on holiday in Brive with my family. I was completely surprised because I had played one season in the French first division and I didn't think such a big club would have come to see me."
And on waiting for weeks for the fee to be finalised between the two clubs, he added:
"I went through every state of mind, I did not want to miss out on the challenge."
And finally for this morning, Alex Hleb has admitted it was a mistake to leave Arsenal. He talks with the Daily Mirror.

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