Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Nasri on City - Vermaelen's big test - Bolton in for Vela

Morning Gooners.

Manchester City up tomorrow night at the Grove and the early team news is that none of the players who played against Birmingham have suffered any side effects apart from bruising.

Arsene Wenger therefore has the same squad of players to pick from for the City match. Kieran Gibbs is back in training this week and could be in contention for a place within the squad for Saturday's FA Cup match with Leeds United but tomorrow night's game would come too soon for the Englishman.

There is no further progress on Abou Diaby and Manuel Almunia who are still two to three weeks away from a return to the first team, however the Spaniard could be playing for another club should he find one who are willing to take him and they make a reasonable offer.

The players have been talking rather sensibly about the City match. It seems there is such a roller coaster of opinion among fans that every game is a must win. Of course it isn't. But getting three points is obviously our goal.

I was listening to the Fans Forum podcast which was recorded after the draw with Wigan and the amount of downbeat callers on the show was amazing. Yes, the Wigan game was one which we should have won, but a draw isn't the worst result in the world and considering we lost at the DW last season I think taking a look at the bigger picture is imperative.

We also have to consider in the games against Chelsea (H), Wigan (A) and Birmingham (A) last season we took just one point from those three games. This time round we have seven from the available nine. It shows we are improving.

Which is why Samir Narsi is right to suggest we'll still be in the title race if we slip up in any way tomorrow night.

Nasri said:
"We are contenders without this game but yes, it will be a really important game because they are two points ahead of us.
"So we have to win to come back to second and it's really, really important to make the same game we did at Man City earlier this year."
Last season this fixture was a dire 0-0, the only game at the Grove which finished without a goal last term. However I think this time round will be different. We're in a grove right now which suggests to me we'll play a game which suits us and will go for three points.

Theo Walcott has said as much.

Walcott told Four Four Two magazine
"We concentrate on our game. We don't want other teams to do us favours.
"We want to put three points on the board and if the others result go our way it is a bonus.
"There is no point looking at who is going to beat who or whatever. Otherwise we would not be focused for our game."
Manchester United play Stoke tonight at Old Trafford. A win would put them five points clear having played the same amount of games. That's why we must take maximum points tomorrow to keep the pressure up.



Away from the game, the manager has been talking about Thomas Vermaelen's return from injury and how this week could be decisive as to whether he'll use the January transfer window to bring in cover at centre half.

Asked whether he'll consider buying anyone at centre back should Vermaelen not return to full fitness by the end of January, the manager told Arsenal TV Online:
"Should Thomas Vermaelen not come back quickly that's an area we would be short because there are only three centre backs available at the moment.
"But I'm confident he will come back. We have a big test this week [on Thomas Vermaelen] because he starts to run again, so the first signs of how he feels now will be very important."
I think should Vermaelen break down in any way the manager needs to be decisive and make an immediate move for a replacement, although I can see Wenger waiting until the last minute before going into the transfer market just to be sure there is no chance of the Belgium international returning.

Even so I think it is a big risk leaving it late. Should Johan Djourou get injured, we'd be in serious trouble. It is obvious we need another central defender but I'm not sure the manager will act.  

There is talk from the club's new signing Japanese attacker Ryo Miyaichi about the pressure of being compared with Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Miyaichi said
"I don't feel pressured but I know in myself that I have nowhere near the talent of such great players as Ronaldo and Henry. 
"I just have to do my best to one day come close to being the kind of players they are."
Transfer Window Watch:
Bolton manager Owen Coyle has admitted his team are interested in taking Carlos Vela on loan.

Coyle said
"If Arsenal are saying Carlos Vela is available to go out on loan and whether Bolton would be interested, the answer to that is 'yes'."
Elsewhere:
Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies has been full of praise for Aaron Ramsey, who contray to what Arsene Wenger said last Friday, played his final match for his on loan side yesterday as they beat Ipswich Town 1-0.

"Aaron has been a pleasure to have about the place. From working with him on a daily basis it's clear to see he has a wonderful future ahead of him.
"He has been not only a credit to himself in the time that he's been with us but also a credit to his club, Arsenal.
"Unfortunately we haven't seen as much of him in action as we had hoped because of the weather."
Finally
Congratulations to Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp who has been appointed Ajax youth team manager.

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