Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ramsey's off - Wenger won't sign a defender - Nasri's hips

Morning Gooners.

Here we are again. A lovely Saturday afternoon 3pm kick off at the Grove. Our first since the victory over Fulham on December 4th. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I hate early kick offs. Unless it is a top, top game, the atmosphere at the stadium is flat and your pre match routine is out of sync. Late kick offs on a Saturday aren't much better, but at least it allows time for a couple of pre-match beers or three.

The manager held his pre-match press conference yesterday. One of the main stories to come out of it was the proposed loan move of Aaron Ramsey to Cardiff City for a month. The deal  looks set to go through over the weekend. It's interesting to see how the manager has handled Ramsey's recuperation differently to others who have been out with a long term injury. He agreed to the Nottingham Forest loan - where Ramsey's mate Chris Gunter plays - and now a loan to his former club.

Ramsey is younger than others who have suffered a career threatening injury. So perhaps sending him out on loan to be near familiar faces, his family live in the Cardiff area, is a ploy to getting him playing back to his best. 

The other obvious reason is that the manager may feel he doesn't need the Ramsey / Shawcross sideshow to effect his preparations for the home game with Tony Pulis' men a month today.

The manager spoke yesterday about Samir Nasri and how he's continuing to have a stand out season for Arsenal. He was asked if there was a comparison with Zinedine Zidane, who also has the same French/Algerian heritage as the Arsenal attacker.

Wenger said:
"The flexibility of his hips is similar to Zidane, but Zidane was a different player. Zidane was more a guy who creates openings through his skill, Nasri is more direct.
"He is a player who has a little bit a guy who likes to run with the ball. Cesc Fabregas is a passer of the ball, Nasri is a guy who is more half winger, a wing midfielder. He has his own style but he is quick and tricky and very flexible.
"I believe Nasri has improved his numbers. It is not only an impression, it is an impression confirmed by the facts.
"That means the goals he has scored and the number of influences he has had on games has become much stronger."
Whilst a comparison with a great such as Zidane is a tad early, considering everyone would compare Nasri with the Zidane everyone remembered at the top of his game, I'm sure that Nasri will get there and could possibly become a better player than his countryman.

He's scored 14 goals for Arsenal this season, already 11 more than for the whole of last season. He's certain to be one of the leading contenders for player of the year, although as GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog quite rightly states, being British is sure to count against him.

I would dearly love for the club to announce he's signed a new contract sooner rather than later, but we are told it's a done deal. 

He's impressed me so much and it just goes to show that if our creative players like Nasri are fit and on good form, this is the type of football they can produce.

The other question which seemed to be on everyone's lips was about a new central defender.

Gary Cahill's name was put to Wenger and he said:
"I think Gary Cahill is a very good player, but I cannot tell you more.
"We like to keep our transfer negotiations always very secret, because it puts more pressure on when you go public so you would understand we don't want to speak publicly about that."
The manager said that Sebastien Squillaci was a week away and he had Song as further back up. To my mind I don't think we are going to sign anyone. I really do believe the manager will muddle through to the end of the season with the central defenders that we've got.

Not completely unexpected, but disappointing none the less. I think we could only be improved by the right sort of signing in that area.

The manager said there had been no further developments on Carlos Vela leaving - although it sounded like the Mexican wasn't too keen on going to Bolton.

Manuel Almunia is still out and when asked about the future of Nicklas Bendtner on the back of questions about our Spanish goalkeeper leaving, the Frenchman said:
"This is where I question a bit the transfer window, because this is the period where you want everybody to be connected, you cannot be half in or out. You have to be completely in. That is why I am not prepared to talk about anybody leaving.
"We are on a very good run, we are involved in all the different competitions and we have a squad with top quality. We want everybody to be together and be focused on our targets.
"We can only achieve that if everybody is in.
"I just want everybody to be focused on what we can achieve together, which can be exceptional, but we need everybody to be focused on our targets."
It's a problem with having a squad with lots of good players in. Every member of our squad has played at some point this season and the question each player has to ask themselves is do they want to be part of a squad which maintains a challenge for trophies or play regular first team football at a lower level club.

And it's not a question they should be asking themselves now. It's one for the end of the season. As the manager points out, we are still the only club in the league challenging for four big trophies. We could go on to win the lot. Anything can happen between now and the end of the season. One thing is for certain. We need to keep our focus on the next game and not get distracted by things going on around us, like the possibility of Manchester United going the season unbeaten in the league.

Match preview will be along a bit later.

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