Sunday, 26 December 2010

Wenger and Fabregas disagree - Diaby to start - Vela off?

Morning Gooners.

I hope like me you had an enjoyable Christmas Day. Far too much food and drink on my part. But that is what January is all about, right?

Feels odd not expecting to go to or watch Arsenal today. Boxing Day without football is not right. But I'm happy to wait if the game gives us the result we are looking for.

Three lovely points, even one if we're not being too greedy. But a performance which we can be proud of is what I imagine all Gooners want from tomorrow night's game.

There is a lot of talk around about Cesc Fabregas' comments after the Manchester United game. It is the first opportunity the press have had to question Arsene Wenger about them.

Our captain said 
"I think the difference on the night was that we were scared of losing but they were not scared of winning."
Whilst the manager didn't agree with what his captain said about our mentality, he said it was important to have an honest assessment of what happened at Old Trafford. 

The Frenchman said:
"I do not need to change the Arsenal mentality because the Arsenal mentality is fantastic and very strong.
"This team is hungry and the players want success. It is more about belief and belief comes by focusing on playing together and the way we want to play rather than thinking can we beat Chelsea or not.
"We can beat Chelsea but the best way to beat them is to focus on what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it."
I think taking that first step is going to be the hardest, but why can't it happen tomorrow? We've got a strong team who have proved a lot of people wrong already this season. Taking that step tomorrow... avoiding defeat could be the start of proving to our critics that we have a chance of winning the title this season.

We have to go out on to the pitch and remove all fear we have about playing our own game. The matches away at Manchester United and Chelsea have been close in my opinion. But one thing I believe we need to do more of is make and take more of our opportunities. We know these games come down to the finest of margins. So scoring one of those chances could make a big difference. And scoring first in big games, as the manager has pointed out recently, makes you statistically more likely to avoid defeat.

The manager also said we have nothing to be envious of Chelsea about considering where we are in all competitions compared to them.

It appears that Abou Diaby could make his return to the team with a start tomorrow night.

The Sunday Mirror is going strongly with the possibility the Frenchman will be in the starting line up.

"I personally rate Diaby very highly. He has a very important part to play in our season now. 
"Will he be on straight away against Chelsea? I don't know yet because we are a few days away from the game and he has been out for nine weeks. 
"But I believe Diaby will have an immense contribution to the success of our season."
I know opinion is divided on the Frenchman, but I think on his day he is the type of player we really need in our side. As our friends at arse2mouse point out, Diaby has the combination of skill and power which most of our other midfielders don't have.

He's been out for nine weeks, as the manager points out, and you would normally expect the boss to be extra cautious about throwing a player straight back from injury into the team but I just have a feeling his name could be in the starting 11.

Another player the boss is hoping for an improved performance from is Marouane Chamakh.

The forward has looked tired in his last couple of games in the second periods against Partizan and Manchester United. But his work rate in his opening 20 appearances has been faultless. He's run his socks off for this team. So two weeks without football might have helped recharge his batteries.

Martin Keown says Andrey Arshavin needs to work harder defensively for the team for everyone to reap the rewards. Whilst former manager George Graham says those down the road are just as entertaining to watch as our team.

There are a couple of transfer rumours to throw in the mix.

The Sunday Mirror join the bandwagon regarding a possible move for Ipswich's teenage striker Connor Wickham.

Whilst the same paper suggest Carlos Vela could be on his way out of the club in January with a move to Espanyol. Villareal and Valencia are also in the picture it appears.

Manchester United play Sunderland later, whilst City are at Newcastle. Lets hope for some positive results for us in those fixtures. Enjoy the remainder of your turkey today!

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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