Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Fabregas ready - Vermaelen faces surgery - Arsene targets Jagielka, Cahill, Mertesacker, Upson or Legrottaglie

Morning Gooners.

It's match day already and games in January are going to come thick and fast. We'll be playing every three or four days, so this month could define our season, starting with the first leg of the Carling Cup semi final tonight at Portland Road.

Now I imagine some of you expect it to be an easy game, after all Chelsea beat this team 7-0 in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. I think, however, we will come up against a different beast tonight.

This team will be motivated by the fact they have to impress their new manager (Paul Jewell), they'll be on home soil and only two games away from a chance to play at Wembley.

Take this game lightly and we'll have a problem on our hands. We need to go out onto the pitch tonight highly motivated and prepared to win the tie tonight. It is no good putting a lackluster performance on like we did at the weekend. We need to take this game from the scruff of its neck straight away tonight, dictate the tempo of the game and over power the opposition with our superior game.

That is why I'm more and more convinced that the manager will start Cesc Fabregas tonight. He is the type of player we lacked on Saturday and although for me it was Theo Walcott who changed our game against Leeds, you could see it was Fabregas who pulled his teammates out of a hole.

The captain said:
"Although Ipswich are a Championship team, that can make them even more dangerous.
"Their motivation will be very high - these will be the biggest two games of their year.
"They will be desperate to beat us, they will want to show their strengths, and their motivation will be as high as possible.
"If we want to get through we will have to match that motivation, if not raise it further."
Something will have to change in the line up and I've got a sneaky feeling playing Fabregas will be one of the changes the boss will make.

Another midfielder who will be hoping to get a run out tonight will be Aaron Ramsey.

He was on the bench at the weekend, the first time he's been involved in a first team squad since last February when he was injured.

Ramsey, who has already played in a Wembley final prior to joining Arsenal, told the Daily Star:
"To get to another final would be brilliant. It would be good to do that and win some silverware for the first time in a while. 
"I played against Ipswich a few weeks ago, so hopefully I will play some part in the game and get some more minutes under my belt." 
I'd imagine the plan would be to introduce him after 60/70 minutes hopefully when we have a few goals on the scoreboard. It'll be great to see him back and I'm sure he'll get an excellent reception from the traveling Gooners.



The other main news concerns the problems we have with our central defenders. We are down to two fit recongised first team players who regularly play in that position in Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou after the manager confirmed our fears that Sebastien Squillaci would be out of action for a minimum of two weeks with a hamstring problem.

This news is doubly compounded by the confirmation of the news I brought you last week that Thomas Vermaelen has suffered a set back with his recuperation from an Achilles injury. 

The Daily Mail are reporting Vermaelen has been booked in for surgery. Wenger said in his only pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online the club were consulting with specialists around the globe to discover what is wrong with our Belgium centre half.

It means that we're now very much in the market for a central defender. Although the manager did throw a curve ball out there when he said:
"If the opportunity turns up, we will take it, but if not we can cope.
"We have solutions internally with Ignasi Miquel and Alex Song, who can play centre-back, and with Squillaci, who should come back very quickly."
I'm sorry but the manager is desperately wrong if he thinks that either Miquel - who has no first team experience apart from sitting on the bench against Leeds on Saturday - or Song, our only recognised defensive midfielder is the option to play in the central defence.
We need a new player to come in and play in that role and if it means paying some money for their signature that is not a problem.

We can't think about the future too much. We have to think about the now. We are desperately short of cover. An injury to Djourou or Koscielny and we are in the do-do.

The usual names are appearing in the newspapers. Everton's Phil Jagielka, Bolton's Gary Cahill and Werder Bremen's Per Mertesacker are the leading candidates. There is also the chance we could go for Matthew Upson who is out of contract at the end of the season.
There is also a link by the Daily Mail for 34-year-old Juventus centre-back Nicola Legrottaglie, but I expect he's a long shot.
The manager has completely ruled out a third move for Sol Campbell.

Whoever we get in, we need them to be able to cope straight away with the rigors of playing football every few days and not have an injury record as long as the manager's arm. Do they have to be eligible for the Champions League? Possibly, but for me it wouldn't be a deal breaker.

We've got the chance at winning the league this season and whoever we sign - and i really believe we do need to bring someone in - needs to be able to add to the quality within the squad. We can't get mixed up now about who will be first or third choice once they are all fit. We've seen with injury that the fourth choice centre half at the start of the season can be propelled into the first team for an extended spell when the injury jinx hits us.

I'm sure Arsene is on the case, but for me not signing someone could kill off our season.

Elsewhere, Tomas Rosicky talks about reading self help books to get over his injury crisis.

The Daily Mirror believes Spanish club Levante are in with a chance of signing Wellington Silva on loan. The Brazilian said he wasn't able to find out where he'd be going on loan yesterday, but he did enjoy sitting next to Thierry Henry at breakfast.

And The Sun link us with Southampton's Alex Chamberlain for the millionth time. Perhaps we might do a deal for him. Perhaps we won't. But his name is appearing next to ours as much as Ipswich's Connor Wickham!

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