Thursday, 10 February 2011

Arsenal are in a quandary with Cesc's visit to meet the Pope

Morning Gooners,

Well it seems as though many of our players will report back from international duty at London Colney today tired but uninjured from last night's fixtures.

Eleven of the twelve players called up to play for their countries either played or were on the bench last night, the exception being Emmanuel Eboue who played for the Ivory Coast on Tuesday night.

A full round up of who played where for whom and for how long was posted on the blog last night.

There is also a sight some Arsenal fans didn't expect to see in 2011... take a look here.

There are some quotes around this morning from Jack Wilshere on his England debut. You can read them in the Daily Mirror.

The manager will speak to Arsenal TV Online tomorrow and give a run down of how the players are. We'll also get definitive news on how Johan Djourou is progressing in his recovery from injury.

By all accounts, it's more positive than first feared and he could be in line for a return to the team on Saturday. If he's not, he should be available for the Barcelona game.

Speak of which, news has emerged overnight that the Spanish Football Association have an appointment booked with the Pope to meet the World Cup winning squad on Monday.

That party will obviously include our World Cup winning captain Cesc Fabregas. It will also involve nine or so Barcelona players.

Cesc will be expected to report for training on Monday, as Sunday will be the players day off. If the Spanish squad's appointment is set for the morning, the club will have to grant him permission to attend and miss training.

It is obviously not the best time to be meeting the Pope and you would have thought an appointment during an international week would have been better for all concerned.

It's a very tough call for Arsene Wenger. Ideally he would want Fabregas to be training and not flying to Italy for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

If I were Wenger I'd let Fabregas do what he thought were best. I don't think there is an easy answer. Hopefully some sensible solution can be reached.

The Daily Mirror bring us news that Barca have spent £350,000 relaying the pitch at the Nou Camp, so it's just right for us to play our perfect passing game on March 8. How very thoughtful of them!

And there is some more wacky transfer news in the form of Pepe Reina, who is desperate to leave Liverpool after all of his Spanish mates abandoned ship. The Daily Mail are linking us with a £20 million move, but I can never see that happening, not now we've got two very good keepers in Szczesny and Fabianski.

Also, that amount of money for a 28-year-old doesn't offer us anything in the way of resale value. I really can't see Wenger buying in someone like Reina now to stand in Szczesny or Fabianski's way.

I'm keeping everything crossed until the good news comes in that 12 players have returned without injury from their international fixtures, because you just don't know if there is some Tottenham supporting air hostess out there planning on wheeling her drinks trolley into the knee of one of our players.

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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