Friday, 28 January 2011

Almunia is no bench warmer - Oxlade-Chamberlain wants Arsenal deal

Morning Gooners.
FA Cup football takes our thoughts away from both the league and the Carling Cup final. It's been a busy old month and feels like only yesterday we were beating Leeds to go through to the fourth round.

The Arsenal historian tells us this is the first time in history the first team have had to compete in nine games in January.

I know it didn't help being forced to go to a replay at Elland Road but the players can put that learning experience into action on Sunday when Huddersfield Town are the visitors to the Grove. I hope their will be no feeling amongst the players that they just have to turn up. They only be third in league one, but the effort, professionalism and determination their players will put into Sunday's match can't be under estimated.

Ahead of the game the early team news is that Sebastien Squillaci and Abou Diaby are back in contention for a place in the squad. There is also a place on the bench waiting for Manuel Almunia, who is almost fit again.

However from what I'm told the Spaniard doesn't particularly want to be the understudy to Wojciech Szczesny and we may instead see James Shea continuing to be back up to the Pole. The manager may feel he needs to force the issue and demand that Almunia does what is good for the rest of the squad.

This is because I understand that Lukasz Fabianski has suffered a bit of a set back in training and may be a little while until he is fit enough to play first team football.

Bacray Sagna could be involved but I wouldn't be surprised if he's rested for the Everton match on Tuesday. Tomas Rosicky is the major doubt after being struck down with a virus prior to the Leeds United home tie which took him out of training for more than a week.

The manager  said in his pre-match interview  with Arsenal TV Online that he expects to make significant changes for the game on Sunday because of it being so close to the Everton match on Tuesday. He said he expected to use around 20 players which means that several who start in the cup will also play in the league.

Aaron Ramsey has been talking about why he's gone on loan again.

He said:
"If going out on loan again for a month to get a few more games helps me get back into shape quicker and into the Arsenal team then I will do that.
"I just want to get back to playing regularly and get back into the Arsenal team as quickly as I can."
I really like Ramsey's attitude. It will be great to have him competing for a place in the team come the end of February. And his loan finishes the day before we play in the Carling Cup final, It will be good to have him back around the rest of the players on the day.

Another player who looks set to depart for loan pastures new is Carlos Vela. The manager said he was going to sit down with the Mexican yesterday or today to decide which club he will join. The manager is pressing for a Premier League loan and both parties have whittled the choices down to three.

Bolton are one of the trio. However if it is decided that Vela go abroad I think that will probably be the last we see of him in a red and white shirt for Arsenal.

The move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rumbles on. From what I hear from the players camp, he wants to join Arsenal having made up his mind but feels a debt to Southampton. The clubs are squabbling over money so it's a case of waiting and seeing. No doubt he'll have a stormer on Sunday against Manchester United and put another £5 million on the south coast club's asking price.

It also appears we're very close to the signing of Dinamo Zagreb right-back Sime Vrsaljko.

Elsewhere there is talking coming from the England camp about Jack Wilshere. It appears Fabio Capello has big plans for him. The England manager also no sees he was wrong not to take Theo Walcott in his squad to the World Cup last summer.

I personally disagree. Because Capello didn't take Walcott to South Africa, we now have a much more focused and determined individual. And he's shown what he can do already this season.

Finally, some amusing quotes from the Chairman Peter Hill-Wood in this Daily Star piece which you probably ready yesterday. He's quite keen on swearing. I wonder if he conducts board meetings efffing and jeffing.

The manager hosts his press conference later, so more news from the great man then.

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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