Saturday, 26 March 2011

Vermaelen admits he was at fault - Wenger refuses to back Almunia

Morning Gooners.

I think our hopes and prayers were answered last night when the four Arsenal players involved in matches for their countries appear to have come through those games without injury. So unless something happened to Tomas Rosicky, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri or Robin van Persie after the game, it appears we've come through unscathed.  I've already blogged a round-up, so check it out if you feel inclined.

Today we have to cross our fingers and hope for the same from Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Emmanuel Eboue and Carlos Vela who will all play for their national teams later.

As do our young duo Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere who go head-to-head at the at the Millennium Stadium in Wales v England in the Euro 2012 Group G qualifier.

Ramsey went in front of the media yesterday to conduct his first press conference as captain. I thought he handled the questions well. There were a few moments where he wasn't to sure how best to answer but I'm sure that he'll get the hang of things quickly. I have no doubt he'll deal with the media well. He's a bright young man, who's been selected to captain his national team at 20-years-old and the decision to hand him the armband is obviously based on the fact that he's also an exceptional player.

Ramsey said:
"I have made over 50 appearances for one of the biggest clubs in the world and played at a high level.
"I am not a screamer and a shouter and am not going to change the way I play.
"Some people are going to disagree with it but me and Gary Speed think it was the right decision.
"I always wanted to become captain of Wales one day - it is a great honour."
I can only see positives from Ramsey leading Wales. He'll grow as a player from the experience and that can only help Arsenal. Speed's decision will also give him a huge mental lift and after everything he's been through, that's no bad thing either.

Ramsey has had some special artwork added to his left leg as well. Let's hope that brings him good luck.

England had their press conference yesterday as well. The national team captain spoke about Jack Wilshere being able to handle the pressure of playing for the three lions. If you choose to read his words, you can on the Mirror Football website.

And the rumblings of Stuart Pearce are at a annoying low level pitch which don't seem to want to go away. He seems intent on calling up Jack Wilshere for this summer's Euro under-21 championship. Like Arsene Wenger, I'm not happy about it.

Away from international football and Thomas Vermaelen has admitted he pushed himself too quickly to get back to full fitness so that  he could make a return for Arsenal this season.

The central defender said:
"After surgery, you soon become impatient. I'm a player they have to slow down - that's my problem. I felt a little pain, but I had something in my head: I'll cope with it. That's wasn't too smart: you can't beat nature. 
"After a few weeks I personally indicated that I had to slow down. It didn't feel that comfortable, as it feels these days.
"I always thought I would be out for six weeks [after the surgery]. That was what I was told. So I never could anticipate this long absence. Maybe I would have preferred that I knew from the start."
Regular readers will know that Vermaelen was due to be fit around the return leg with Barcelona and would have been available for the run in had everything gone to plan.

Everything I heard from inside the club at the early stages of his rehabilitation were positive. He'd started running two weeks after the procedure to remove the tendon next to his Achilles. And even the manager was happy, stating in early February the defender should be able to make a return in around three weeks.

But things went downhill from there.

It's obviously a huge blow for both the player and the club that he's been out of action for the majority of the season. But Vermaelen has said he's learned about the game from studying from the sidelines.

We'll just have to hope that the work he does between now and the end of the season will stand him in good stead for pre-season and a successful campaign next term.

With there being no league match for us this weekend and just international football to concentrate on, there was no press conference for the manager yesterday, although he did do his regular interview with Arsenal TV Online. It was recorded on Thursday and put out yesterday, so didn't include the boss' reaction to Aaron Ramsey becoming Wales captain.

He refused to be drawn on the goalkeeping situation. He said of Almunia's mistake at West Brom:
"What can you say? The player knows it was the wrong decision. In big games, it hurts because that was a massive game for us and it hurts him of course."
And on whether he would bring in Jens Lehmann for Almunia for the Blackburn game next Saturday, Wenger said: 
"I do not want to make a public debate of that. I believe for every game you consider three days before the game who will play in the next match."
I don't think there is much chance of a change being made in goal and I would be very surprised if it did happen. I think the reason for Wenger giving an ambiguous answer like he did there was to keep Almunia on his toes. We certainly need who ever is in goal to have a clean head and a focus on the game.

And the manager has spoken about the importance of keeping level headed as we chase the title with the official magazine.

Which brings me on to a post by Tim over at 7amKickOff after the debate over whether we should have done more to sign Pepe Reina last summer. The post looks at how Reina and Wojciech Szczesny compare to one another.

Personally, I'm happy we suck with what we've got although I would have preferred us to have started the season with Lukasz Fabianski in goal.

Anyway, enjoy you're day whatever you decide to do without your Arsenal fix.

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