Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wilshere woe -Wenger's defensive methods revealed -Will six Gunners re-sign?

Morning Gooners.

Well unfortunately today has not started well. I went to bed last night with everything appearing to be ticking along nicely. We'd learnt from Arsene Wenger that Johan Djourou and Yossi Benayoun would miss this afternoon's match but we'd be able to cope with that because Tomas Rosicky was available.

However I've woken up to the bomb shell which is Jack Wilshere's injury set back which means he'll have to undergo an operation on Monday which leaves him unlikely to play again until next year. To say I'm disappointed with the news is an understatement. I was positive about Jack's chances of being back sooner rather than later when he tweeted last week he was feeling better. However all players heal differently and no exact time frame will ever be right.It just seems to me that we have really back luck when it comes to our most important players being out of action for long periods of time.

So we're without Jack probably until the New Year. But what of Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby?

Wenger said:
"Diaby is three or four weeks. Vermaelen is just over two weeks. So it should be after the international break for both of them."
The manager said Bacary Sagna and Aaron Ramsey were available for the game later, which is good news because we need them both. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is included in the squad.

We go into the game knowing that a defeat plus a draw between West Brom and Fulham could leave us bottom of the table. That really would be our worst start to the season for some time and we could go to White Hart Lane for next weekend bottom with one win from six games. But let's not think about that.

The manager says the mood inside the camp is positive and that team spirit is good. I really hope they've isolated themselves from all the negativity which has surrounded the club. We're not in a good place right now and only results can improve the situation. Winning our next three games and going into the international break feeling more positive could make the world of difference in changing the mood of fans and about being optimistic about our chances this season.

Wenger has admitted he's concerned by our early season form.

He said:
"Of course I am worried. It is absolutely not realistic not to be worried when you have a team like Manchester United in front of you.  
"But the only thing we can do is focus on our performances, win our games and hope they will drop some points at some stage.  
"However, at the moment I am more concerned by us than them. If they do a perfect season, they do a perfect season. Until now, only one team did that — Arsenal."
Personally I think they will go through a rough patch, just like every other team does. Usually ours comes in November after starting the season well. Hopefully we're going through some bad form now and we'll pick up  momentum built off the back of some good results. We're going to need to scrape some wins together and go on an undefeated run for a few games to build our confidence back. The players have another week of training under their belts which can only help and the drills and coaching has lent towards the defence we're led to believe.

It is interesting to read Nigel Winterburn's insight into Wenger's sessions in today's Guardian and compare the differences between the Frenchman and George Graham.

The former left back said:
"We still did small-sided drills of two against two, three against three [under Wenger] which is a bit like a defensive situation, but Arsène Wenger doesn't do anything like George Graham did.  
"George worked many hours with the back four, sometimes with no opposition there, just moving into position. Then, he would introduce the youth team: five, six, seven, eight, nine players against that back four."
This corresponds with what I've been told takes place at the training ground. Very little work on the defence and watching the players train first hand at Members Day back in August, the only work you could consider was defensive training was when a drill was run with three attackers and two defenders.

Hopefully we'll see an improvement in the team's performance later. It's a home game and in my opinion we've done reasonably well at the Grove so far this season. No performance has been entirely convincing but when you're introducing new players into the mix, I believe you've got to give them some time to gel.

The manager has said he is prepared to take bullets for this team... "like a polar bear" which may make Wenger chuckle to himself but doesn't help those on the outside believe he's got a total grip of the situation. And by saying that sort of thing it leaves him open to ridicule in the media. I see the designers at The Sun have already been busy with their photoshop effort.

You have Ivan Gazidis talk about how all the media around the club is negative and then Wenger gives them a line like that to make hay with. I applaud Matt Law from the Daily Express for leaving the line out of his article. But no one else on Fleet Street has.

Wenger has revealed we've opened or about to open contract talks with Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen, Johan Djourou, Alex Song and Andrey Arshavin about extending their deals with the club. I believe all have deals which end in June 2013.

Obviously it's a big ask for them to commit to the club now whilst it is going through a difficult patch. It is also hard to see them re-signing when our wage structure is completely out of sync with both Manchester clubs, Chelsea and all of Europe's top teams. Until we increase our commercial revenue, we won't be able to match what these clubs pay and compete for the top players.

A couple of bits of transfer speculation for you. The Daily Mail report we're scouting Brighton and Hove Albion's 19-year-old central defender Lewis Dunk. Whilst The Sun say we've signed Barcelona's ex-president Joan Laporta son Guim, 14.

I'll post my team preview later this morning and if you're not able to get to the game, follow our live interactive blog on the game from 2.45pm. Set up a reminder below.

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