Monday, 14 March 2011

Bartley to return or promote Miquel? - Lehmann our emergency keeper?

Morning Gooners.

The fallout from the weekend continues. The media seem to want to pour over our disappointing two weeks with joyful glee. All the doomers are hitting the redial button to try and get on talkSPORT to moan about Arsene Wenger and Arsenal losing. And now we're six days away from our next game with nothing to fill our footballing void.

Perhaps this isn't such a bad time to take stock of our achievements this season but as the league doesn't finish until the end of May, we'd be looking at a situation prematurely.  All could be very different if on May 22 we're holding the Premier League trophy aloft.

There are ten huge games between now and then. Win them all and we're champions. I think it would be optimistic to expect us not to drop points, but with Manchester United still involved in the Champions League and FA Cup, they could possibly get side tracked.

So this week is pretty much all about the decisions the manager is going to make which could result in us having a fighting chance of winning the league.

With Johan Djourou out for the season, Wenger must decide how he's going to reinforce his defence. Recalling Kyle Bartley is an option. He's been out on loan this season gaining valuable experience at Sheffield United and then Glasgow Rangers.

As I said in yesterday's blog, Rangers have paid Arsenal a loan fee so if we were able to agree a release for Bartley with the Scottish club, we'd have to pay them compensation. 

He'd be coming back to Arsenal to sit on the bench effectively and he's getting games at the moment. Would that be in his and Arsenal's best interests?

The other option is Ignasi Miquel. He's started two FA Cup games with Leyton Orient and performed admirably. But could he cope yet with the rigors of the Premier League? The manager didn't seem to think so a few weeks back but now it's a necessity that someone steps up.

Thomas Vermaelen is still a few good weeks of training away from playing again and I think we should forget about a possible return this season and if it happens it will be a nice surprise.

Then there is the goalkeeping situation. Manuel Almunia is our only recognised first choice keeper who's fit. Lukasz Fabianski is out for the season. Wojciech Szczesny and Vito Mannone are six weeks away from returning to fitness so it leaves reserve team keeper James Shea as back-up.

There is an option for an emergency loan and the manager says he has someone in mind. He'll have to gain Premier League permission to make the signing, but I don't expect that to be a problem.

Jens Lehmann has been linked with the vacancy by the media because he is in London to work with the Arsenal academy keepers whilst competing his UEFA coaching badges.

He told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag
"I am in London and so far have heard nothing of such plans, but you never know."
At 41, he would be a short term option. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when Lehmann and Almunia train with one another for the first time again, if it were to happen.

The manager has got the international break after next weekend's trip to West Brom to sort this out. I doubt anything will be sorted this week.

And as not to end this post on a negative, Aaron Ramsey has spoken about his return to playing football at the highest level.

The midfielder said:
"It was great to pull the Arsenal shirt on again and play some part in the game. 
"It's been a long time since I played for Arsenal. It was a disappointing result, but from a personal point of view it was great to be back.
"The thought of the injury doesn't go through my mind at all during any game. I just concentrate on the role I've got to play and try to get the points we need.
"The fans have been fantastic all the way through. They gave me a big cheer when I came on and I appreciate their support."
If there is something I want to see more of this season, it's Ramsey playing for the Arsenal. I thought he did well when he came on and can only now improve from where he left off prior to his injury.

I won't expect too much from him because he's been out of the game for so long, but he certainly brings something to the team which few other of our current players are able to do so.

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