Friday, 14 October 2011

Vermaelen still weeks from returning -Jenkinson's chance -"Romanian Messi" scouted

Morning Gooners.

It seems that the international break has been kind to Arsenal and the Gods who control it have allowed all our players to return to London Colney with some chance of playing in Sunday's match with Sunderland.

The early team news from Arsene Wenger's pre-match interview with the official site is good. Tomas Rosicky is the only one who is a slight doubt but should return to full training today and be "OK" for the weekend according to the manager. The same is true for Lukasz Fabianski who has a "little groin" problem, but again should be able to make the bench on Sunday.

Long term absentees Abou Diaby and Thomas Vermaelen are closer to returning to first team action with the Frenchman being prepared for a comeback against Bolton in the Carling Cup, whilst the Belgium international may still be two or three weeks away from playing again. So I think we're probably looking at the Chelsea game at the end of the month.

The manager's big choice to make with his team selection appears to be at right back where we'll be without Bacary Sagna for the next three months at least.

The manager says of Sagna's situation:
"He is down of course because when you are used so much to playing every three days and suddenly you are at home without any movement it is very difficult to take.
"You have to adjust. He is strong mentally so he will get over that."
Sagna is a huge loss. You don't need me to tell you that. He is arguably the best right back in the league and has been one of our most consistent performers in recent seasons. After we brought in Carl Jenkinson during the summer and let Emmanuel Eboue leave, we're short of experience in this area.

The manager talks up playing Johan Djourou or Laurent Koscielny on the right of his defence, but neither are a specialist right back like Sagna or Jenkinson.

And from the sounds of it, Carl is going to be given the chance to stake his claim for the position with Wenger set to start him there against Sunderland.

The manager said:

"We have Jenkinson, we have Koscielny and we have Djourou who can play right-back.
"Koscielny was always a right-back, so he can play there.
"Even Andre Santos can play there, I think, so we have plenty of possibilities."

Wenger has also ruled out playing Francis Coquelin there. The French teenager played in the position two seasons ago during an FA Cup tie at Stoke and I think was played in that position during his time in the youth/reserve team. But Wenger has said he is not confident to play there.

I have no problems with us playing Jenkinson there if Wenger affords him some protection in front. We have to remember this is a 19-year-old guy who was playing non league football last Christmas and hasn't held down a position for any length of time at Charlton prior to his move to north London. To say he's raw is an understatement.

But he has the desire and the ability to succeed. And he is 100% committed to the cause. You can see that by the way he celebrated Aaron Ramsey's goal at Spurs. He's a gooner who is living the dream and he'll have my 100% backing.

However I don't think we should expect him to be pulling up any trees. And if things go wrong I don't think you can blame the player 100%. The manager has left us in a position where by Jenkinson is the first choice right back with little experience. And whilst Sagna isn't a permanent fixture in the treatment room, it was perhaps a little naive to expect Jenkinson to be able to make the step up if the Frenchman is injured and to perform at the same level.

If selected Jenkinson will be playing alongside Per Mertesacker which will hopefully help him. He'll be guided through games, which wasn't what happened at Old Trafford when he was stationed alongside Koscielny with Theo Walcottt in front of him. I can't see past a continuation of an Arsenal baptism of fire for Jenkinson but I hope this experience will make him into a stronger player.

Elsewhere Wenger has talked about not rushing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain following his goals for England under-21s during the international break. There is always a wish to see more of a young player when he's scoring goals, but I don't think we can expect anything more than substitutes roles for the 18-year-old in the league. If he does well and improves the defensive side of his game then who knows... But I think Wenger is right to be using him as a substitute in the league.

A couple of transfer rumours doing the round. We're scouting Udinese's Gabriel Torje who is being dubbed the Romanian Messi by both the Daily Mirror and The Sun.

Whilst the Daily Mail link us with a move for out of favour Chelsea defender Alex.

Arsene Wenger hosts his pre-match press conference at lunchtime. It will be interesting to see what kind of mood he's in after the break from domestic football. Until tomorrow.

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