Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Coquelin impress -"Silent" Stan to speak -Dein would return

Morning Gooners.

The Carling Cup has always been a tournament I've looked forward to and last night's game proved no different as we welcomed Shrewsbury to the Grove. Quite rightly Arsene Wenger uses the opportunity to give an opportunity to members of the first team squad to get some playing time under their belts and to introduce youngsters into his team to give them a chance to play first team football.

With that in mind it Wenger mixed his side up to include the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Yossi Benayoun and Marouane Chamakh. But also to give debuts to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ju Young Park.

The other youngsters involved: Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin had all been given first team chances before. However the team still had a youthful feel. And the bench was full of young players, with no first team players in sight. It meant there was no room for Manuel Almunia or Sebastien Squillaci (who may still be injured).

I haven't seen the full match but from the highlights I was impressed with Chamakh, who although he didn't score, seemed to have found some of the confidence he's been missing. I thought Coquelin was impressive in central midfield alongside Frimpong. Oxlade Chamberlain grew into the game and took his goal well. Whilst you can see why the players are impressed with Benayoun on the training pitch as he looked to oil the team's engine last night.

Afterwards Arsene Wenger said:
"It was a bit nervy because we played against a good side. I said before the game that the lower divisions have improved in the last five years and you could see that. They were direct but not without technique.  
"They had a direct game but they played it with intelligence and efficiency. They had a few dangerous situations in the first half, even after they scored. So 1-1 was not too bad for us at half time and in the second half we took over, they dropped physically and we played in one half after that."
It would be fair to say that Shrewsbury caused us a few problems. I thought we could have done better for their goal. Djourou looks half the player he was last season. He seems to be going backwards. And as our centre of  defence is all the talk right now, Arsene Wenger was asked about whether he'd be prepared to ask someone like Tony Adams or Martin Keown to return to the club to work alongside his defenders.

To say he wasn't impressed with the question would be an understatement, responding to it by saying only:

"I just completed 32 years of coaching. I do not want to answer these types of questions."
And following Ivan Gazidis' appearance at a Sport Industry Breakfast Club, where he handed Wenger his full backing, the manager was asked about his future.

Wenger said:
"Whether I work here for the next 10 years or the next day here, I will give my maximum for the Club. I will let other people assess the situation. I focus on doing well for this club, that is all. I am not bothered at all by all this speculation."
Personally I find it encouraging the manager still has fire in his belly. Gazidis didn't give Wenger anything other than his full backing. And Wenger is quite within his rights to expect that after the success he's delivered at the club.

Yes, there are problems to solve and I'm expecting a much more resolute performance on Saturday but we're only five league games into the season. We're in the group stages of the Champions League and now through to the last 16 of the Carling Cup.

One interesting thing  Gazidis said was that Stan Kroenke would speak the next time he's in the UK. I hope that's before the AGM because otherwise he could be in for a rough reception, especially if things aren't going too well.


Finally, an interesting piece in the Daily Express which looks at any possible return of David Dein to the club. Interestingly, it says he's turned down offers from other clubs because he'd love to return to the Arsenal...



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