Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Ramsey's return - Gunners inside man at Barca - Wellington's naughty - Wenger's Japanese tour

Morning Gooners.

We're back to Premier League action tonight and welcome our most favourite opponents to the Grove, Stoke City. This is of course a rescheduled fixture from December when a torrential downfall of snow meant the game was abandoned less than four hours prior to kick off.

This game is probably one of the most significant ties in our Premier League campaign, our game in hand on our title rivals. A win tonight will take us within a point of Manchester United at the top of the table. It will also increase the gap between us and Manchester City, to seven points.

Arsene Wenger has said our home form will decide whether we're capable of winning the title. Tonight is therefore a big test for us. Early team news tells us we'll be without Robin van Persie [hamstring] and Laurent Koscielny [back] but that Johan Djourou will return to the squad after missing Sunday's FA Cup game.

There wasn't a pre-match press conference at Arsenal yesterday, so none of the media boys and girls were able to ask the manager about the whole Ramsey / Shawcross situation. It's not surprising neither manager wants to talk about it, with Stoke manager Tony Pulis also not holding a press conference either.

And as we all know, Ryan Shawcross isn't our favourite player and tonight we'll see the special REDaction Aaron Ramsey banner displayed at the Grove. 

Talking of the Welshman, Arsene Wenger said he won't continue to loan out Ramsey for the remainder of the season and will return to Arsenal after Cardiff's match with Hull on Saturday.

The manager has pencilled him in to play in next Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Leyton Orient.

It will be great to see Ramsey back for the remainder of the season. I doubt he'll play that much but just to have him around the place will be good. He'll no doubt get the odd game here and there but I don't think we should expect much until the start of next season.

In his pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online, the manager spoke about Andrey Arshavin and how he lost confidence in his own abilities which led to a downturn in his form. 

Wenger said:
"He was for a while troubled by confidence problems, he is now back and that goal against Barcelona helped him. But before Barcelona, already you felt he was in good form again.
"When it doesn't go for [a top player] for a while you question: 'What am I not doing right and why?' Nobody is immune to that. I have seen so many big players – and, believe me, Andrey is one of them – and they all go through periods like that. It is part of being a human being as well."
I don't know why it's been tough for him but I'm glad he's worked his way through the situation and come out the other side. Perhaps competition for places within the squad has forced some focus on his game and he has looked a better player for a number of games. I thought his performance at Elland Road against Leeds showed promise and then he's come on from there.

If we are to win trophies this season, Arshavin will have a big part to play in us doing so.

There is some more information around about the signing of Jon Miquel Toral Harper. The Sun confirm what was going around on Twitter yesterday that Toral Harper's agent is Pep Guardiola's brother Pere. Nice to have a man inside the Barca camp with Arsenal's best interests at heart!

A transfer rumour for you? The Daily Mail say we scouted Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre at the weekend.

Some gossip? Arsenal's Wellington Silva appears to have been a very naughty boy according to the Daily Mirror. They say a diet of pizza and a late night obsession with twitter are having a negative impact on his progress in Spain. However they use the picture of the wrong Wellington with the story.....

A laugh? Tottenham's result at Blackpool.... that will make your belly ache.

And finally, the Daily Mirror bring us news that Arsenal might go to Japan on a pre-season tour.

I'll blog later about who I think will be in the starting line up for tonight. Until then, have a good Wednesday.

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