Saturday, 29 October 2011

Defensive decisions for Wenger -Midfielder and striker scouted -Gervinho wants bragging rights

Morning Gooners.

After all the excitement of the AGM on Thursday, today we turn to the real thing - the game we all love on the football pitch. And to test how far we've come, we'll face one of our biggest rivals in Chelsea.

The team news ahead of the game is that Thomas Vermaelen is in the squad and Carl Jenkinson rated as 50/50. I don't think the manager will want to take any gambles on the young right back so will stick with Johan Djourou.

As for starting Vermaelen that is a harder question to answer. Bringing the Belgium international back into the team would have been easier a few games ago, but with two big games in the space of four days, it makes it a harder decision to make.

Ideally you'd want to ease him back into competitive football and with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny having formed a decent partnership in the heart of the Gunners defence, it is a tough call to decide which one of the two you would drop.

Personally, I think that if the manager decides to start with Vermaelen he will play with the more mobile Koscielny. The Frenchman would get the nod over the German purely because Koscielny has played with Vermaelen before and the pair would have more of an understanding of one another's game.

But then I think that all good players can perform with one another. So that might give Mertesacker the edge. As you can see, it's a tough call for Arsene Wenger to make.

I think the starting line up will be:
Szczesny; Djourou, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Arteta; Walcott, Ramsey, Gervinho; van Persie.

The manager was asked about inspiring us Gooners with his speech at the AGM and quite rightly said that all that mattered was what happens on the pitch later.

He said:
"I can talk here but, at the end of the day, whether we win or not will be more important than all my speeches. I just spoke with my heart and, of course, because I've been a long time at the club. I care a lot about the club and the fans.  
"I just spoke honestly about what I feel about the situation inside the club and how I feel the team is.  
"Of course, you could feel concern among our fans with the start to the season we had. There are worries and I just wanted to promise that we would give absolutely everything to continue our progress and our improvement. I feel that is happening and I feel there is a deep desire within the team."
Wenger was also asked whether he'd written off the title as something the club couldn't achieve this season. I was glad he didn't concede we wouldn't be able to win it after just nine game. That would be something only a crazy man would do.

The boss instead said we had to be realistic about our chances this season and that fourth place was the minimum target he'd set the team. Both Manchester clubs have started very well, but anything could happen between now and the end of the season.

One player who certainly wants the three points later perhaps a little more than most is Gervinho. The Ivorian wants the bragging rights over his international team mates Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.

He told The Sun:
"Since the start of the season I've waited for this game and I want to win it for me, the team and to tease them a bit more."
Let's hope he takes his shooting boots with him to Stamford Bridge and continues where he left off last weekend, because if he continues to build on last weekend's performance we will certainly have a great chance of winning the game.

A couple of reports in this morning's papers about the players we're currently scouting. The Daily Mail report we've looked at Fiorentina's £20m rated striker Stevan Jovetic. The 21-year-old Montenegro international has only recently signed a new five year deal with the club  so it would be a hard and expensive deal to do.

Whilst in the Daily Mirror they say we're interested in Real Madrid's 24-year-old midfielder Esteban Granero.

For some extra reading this morning, head over to The Guardian who've been speaking to Lee Dixon.



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