Sunday, 24 October 2010

Wenger on wages and the physical battle - Walcott and Squillaci on City - Diaby's training regime - Transfer rumours

Morning Gooners.

Finally, after what has seemed like an age, we have Arsenal back in action later this afternoon. It goes without saying it's a big game for us, a chance to show our title winning credentials. 

We have come back from hopefully our only blip of the season with wins against Birmingham and Shakhtar Donetsk. Now we need to push on and add to those two victories at Eastlands today.

One area of concern we might have had in the past was whether teams like Chelsea and Manchester City would out muscle us.

It's not something the manager fears.

Wenger said:
"My players have matured. We are much more competitive.
"We lost a game at Chelsea but I never felt we were too soft, we were never defeated physically.
"We are now much more competitive. We are not, anymore, what I could sometimes see as a soft team. That has finished."
I thought against Chelsea we didn't take a battering as we might have done in previous years and were competitive. However it was because we were unable to take our chances that we lost.

The defensive midfield that day, Jack Wilshere and Alex Song, were snapping into tackles. Our high pressure game, trying to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible, worked well until we were let down by certain players failing to keep it up.

Today I would imagine we would keep the same tactics as we used at Stamford Bridge. However we have to be more aware of Manchester City trying to catch us on the break.

One area we are unable to compete with the likes of the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea at the moment it appears is by paying the wages they are currently offering players.

Wenger said:
"If you ask, Can the club afford it with the actual balance sheet?' then the answer is No.
"But if it is the market price and if you have the resources available and if you can balance other accounts then, yes, you pay - because it is that or disappear.
"When I arrived in this country, players were on £200,000 a year. Only 15 years later, it is that per week, a bit of a shock for me."
At the moment we can't compete with these three, all owned by very rich men, but saddled with debt and of course problems ahead when UEFA bring in those financial rules they've been promising.

However once the stadium is paid for, we'll have lots of cash available. If say Cesc Fabregas were to sign a new deal with the club, you would have to imagine the board would find the available cash to pay him the highest salary in the club's history.

However much we don't like to hear about the obscene amounts of money paid to players, it's the way its going.

A couple of our players have been talking about today's game.

Theo Walcott said:
"If everyone gets their jobs right then we have a great chance.
"It'll be a slow game at times I think but, with the pace we have got, we can catch them on the break.
"We are better than last season. Obviously we had that bad result against West Brom, but apart from that we've been very strong.
"We've made some good additions to the squad. And we can take the positives out of the win against Shakhtar into the game against City."
And Sebastien Squillaci said
"The match against Manchester City is very important for us. If we win we can show that we can fight for the Premier League title this season.
"The defeat against Chelsea is forgotten but it was a lesson for us to avoid making the same mistakes."
Both talking the right talk, lets hope we can turn these words into a winning performance.

Abou Diaby talks to the News of The World (paywall) about his intensive training regime in the summer of 2009.

Our midfield man recalled: 
"I used to come back to my parents' house at midday with my head swimming and the feeling I wanted to be sick.
"I ached so much all over I went straight to sleep for two or three hours and then I went to bed early every evening.
"I had never worked as hard in my life. My career has gathered speed since for both club and country.
"Now, beyond the increase in matches I've played, I feel better in my body and so in my mind.
"I am more aggressive in the tackle and impose myself more.
"I get to score after a high-tempo run of 60 metres whereas, before, my legs went after 30 metres.
"And I could barely play two matches in four days because my muscles were full of toxins.
"Now, though, the physical aspect is no longer a main worry."
Diaby is certainly a better player for putting this extra work in. But he is a player who continues to frustrate me. So good when he puts the effort in, but then when he's coasting through games it's so annoying because you know he could do so much better.

A couple of transfer related stories around today.

The People link us with a move for "the next Cesc Fabregas" - a Barcelona youth team player by the name of Sergi Samper.

Amazing these players we're linked with are always the next Thierry Henry or Patrick Vieira. Anyway, I digress.

We're looking to sign him in January on a four year deal according to the paper, which will very much annoy Barcelona.

The other player we're linked with is Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina by the Sunday Mirror. He's set to have "showdown" talks with the club, despite signing a new deal with them last summer.

Anyway, if Reina isn't happy we're going to jump to his rescue and pay, wait for it, £20 million for him.  

Can you ever imagine Arsene Wenger spending that sort of money on a goalkeeper, who's 28-years-old, and would never have a resale value close to that sort of figure? No, neither can I.

Finally, a couple of bits of Sunday morning reading for you. Henry Winter talks to Bolton manager Owen Coyle about Jack Wilshere for the Sunday Telegraph. Whilst in the Observer Paul Hayward writes about Jack Wilshere (hooray!) and Gareth Bale (boo!).

That's it for the moment. A preview of the game will be along later.

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