Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Rosicky ready for Leeds - Seriously, Richard Dunne to Arsenal? - Henry honoured

Morning Gooners.

Preparations are well underway for tomorrow night's FA Cup replay against Leeds United at Elland Road. Arsene Wenger has given us the early team news. It's basically as we were.

Lukasz Fabianski is still out with his shoulder problem, Manuel Almunia is still injured, so Wojciech Szczesny will continue between the posts. I feel sorry for Fabianski. He's finally put a run of consistent performances together, playing 20 games already this season and now he's out of the team due to injury. Very unlucky I think. But the manager has said that when he returns he will be first choice again.

There is of course one problem with that. Szczesny wants to be number one and will do everything he can to retain the gloves when his fellow Pole returns from injury.

Szczesny said
"The manager shows faith in me, so I believe I am ready, so any time I get a chance I will try to prove to him I am ready.
"I treat every single game as my chance, I just want to do my best and leave the decisions to the manager."
Whilst I have great admiration for Szczesny, I think Fabianski has done really well to turn his situation around and prove to the fans that he is good enough to be our number one. That penalty save at Partizan Belgrade really was the turning point for him.

I like many others can see that Szczesny has the aura of a great goalkeeper. I don't have any issue when he plays because I do believe he is good enough. He's shown with his performances he's ready.

It will be very interesting to see what the manager does when Fabianski is fit if Szczesny continues to impress. It may be hard on the younger Pole, but I imagine the Frenchman will stay true to his word and start with Fabianski when he is fit again.

The other major piece of team news is that Bacray Sagna is back after his suspension. I hope he's used his time off to recharge his batteries because I can see him playing a lot of games between now and the end of the season.

Abou Diaby remains on the side lines as does Sebastien Squillaci. Diaby could be fit to play the game after the second leg of the Carling Cup. Whilst Squillaci is still a minimum of two weeks away.

Tomas Rosicky returns to the squad after picking up a virus which saw him miss the games with West Ham United and Ipswich Town. Aaron Ramsey could also feature after not being involved at the weekend.

The manager said of his decision on the starting line up:
"We could certainly do without this extra game at Leeds and we will have to rotate our squad.
"Our success depends on how well the entire squad can focus on all the different competitions.
"I will prepare for the game at Leeds to win it and believe we have the quality to go through no matter who I select."
I would rather we sent out a full strength team and won the game after 70 minutes than have to chase a victory in the last 20. If that means the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie start, then I believe it is a price worth paying if we're going to continue to challenge for the FA Cup.

To go out of the competition at this stage would be frankly embarrassing. And to lose to a disgusting team like Leeds United... it's unthinkable.

Elsewhere, the manager confirmed that Thomas Vermaelen would go under the knife today. Wenger gave an optimistic time frame of between four to six weeks for full recovery. Lets hope he can come back that fast. Good luck TV5.

Which leads me to the most fascinating piece of transfer tittle tattle I've read so far this window. 

Richard Dunne to Arsenal, according to the Daily Mail.

Seriously? Richard Dunne? To Arsenal? All those words in the same sentence.... Absolutely crazy. However the best line in that "story" is: "Arsenal are believed to have made..." So have they made an enquiry or not? Surely this half baked transfer story can be consigned to the never going to happen in a million years pile..... 

I really hope we've not spoken to Villa about him. I would rather have Igors Stepanovs back.

The only other piece of transfer news around I've spotted is the Daily Mail linking Manchester City with a move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. I think if he went to Eastlands rather than the Grove, we all know is more about the money than the chance of playing in the top flight.

And finally, congratulations to Thierry Henry who picked up the Football Writers' Association Tribute Award 2011 on Sunday night. A true Gooner and legend. 

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