Thursday, 31 March 2011

Updates on van Persie and Diaby injuries - RIP Rocky

Morning Gooners.

Well I can finally called an end to the last international break of the season with Marouane Chamakh's Morocco facing Botswana last night. Whether he was involved or not is another matter. 

But we can now finally draw a line under what has been nearly two weeks of boredom / worry that our players will come back to the club fit.

There is mixed news on the injury front. All the newspapers expect Robin van Persie to play and I'm guessing they're going with that line because it was what Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said at his post match press conference on Tuesday.

However there has been nothing official from the club on the matter and I expect we'll have to wait for the injury news from the manager which should be out some time later today to find out if Robin will be involved on Saturday.

The Guardian report that Nicklas Bendtner has returned to London Colney with an ankle injury. I'm not sure whether that was the knock he picked up last week or something which has happened since. However they report he should be available for selection this weekend.

There is also optimism that Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Alex Song will be fit to play as well. I would be very surprised if all three weren't fit to play. But with the luck we've not had with injuries this season, nothing would surprise me.

The international break has proved to be an important time for the clubs training ground staff to patch the trio back up to full fitness for the title run in.

We all know what a huge difference they will make when they start. Let's just hope we can use them to their full potential.

Abou Diaby is a concern, according to the Daily Mail. The Frenchman hasn't really got started this season as most of the campaign he's been blighted by injury. Who knows where we'd be if he were playing at his best.

Sebastien Squillaci has been speaking about what the team needs to do:
"We have all got to get our chins up and show our mettle against Manchester United for the title.
"That's the remaining target now and we've got to give everything for the cause. Really, it is a case of keeping going and getting the three points, that's the most important thing."
I think he's had a mixed season but don't put him in the category as some do of being our weak link in defence. There have been some good solid performances, the most recent which comes to mind was Stoke at home. I don't think he was at fault for West Brom's second goal. That was all down to Almunia. But I don't think he would argue we've yet to see the best of him.

Let's hope that those performances will come in the remaining games of the season. The central defensive partnership of Squillaci and Koscielny is probably the most important area of the pitch where we will either win or lose games from. Not giving away silly goals and ensuring the goalkeeper is protected has to be their aim.

And talking of goalkeepers, Jens Lehmann has spoken of the enjoyment of getting back between the posts in a competitive game.

"It was good, I was looking forward to it. Unfortunately, we lost so I'm not really happy. It is always good to learn a little bit what I could have done better. 
"There are some situations that you can't play in a training game because in a real game there is a referee, linesmen and everything has to fit together to create situations like the game itself.
"It was a good experience."
I'm yet to watch the highlights so can't really pass comment on his performance. What I do agree with though was that it was the right call by the manager to use this opportunity to give Jens a game.

If called upon now, we know he's been given match time to get his game in shape. However I think it would be highly unlikely if we were to see him between the sticks on Saturday. Unless the manager has lost complete confidence in Manuel Almunia.

There is some more stuff around about Jack Wilshere wanting to play for the England under-21s in the summer. Jack himself wants to play, that's for certain. But let's hope someone at the FA realises that they need him to be fit and bursting to go next summer when the tournament they really want to win is played.

Finally, today is the tenth anniversary of David Rocastle's death. The player, known to fans as Rocky, passed away after losing his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma aged just 33. RIP Rocky. You'll never be forgotten.

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