Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Wenger makes astonishing Vermaelen claim -Why has Oxlade-Chamberlain been dropped?

Morning Gooners.

It's back into Champions League action we go tonight, boosted by the news that Thomas Vermaelen has signed a new long term contract, reported to be until 2015, with the club.

Of the decision to reward a player who has played just 360 minutes of first team football for the club in the past 12 months, Arsene Wenger said:

"It is a privilege to play for Arsenal Football Club and many players understand that.  
"On our side we are happy to extend his contract because he has shown he has the quality to play for us. 
"He is a leader as well and he is a left-footed player, you do not find many of them. It is important to find a player in his position who has a good first pass with his left foot."

I think we're right to have offered Vermaelen a new deal. He still has a lot to prove and his injuries have limited his involvement with the first team but hopefully when he fully recovers from this current operation he can give us a good number of games for the rest of the season.

However I'm astonished that Arsene Wenger has claimed Vermaelen can play 50 games in a row when he's fully recovered.

He said:
"There's no medical reason why he should not play 50 games on the trot now."
The only reason he won't play 50 games on the trot is because he is an Arsenal player and we know that it is not possible for any of our players to play that many games consecutively.

Anyway, it's good news because when he's playing in our defence we look a much better team.

The speculation is still mounting that RVP won't sign on until he knows we've made the Champions League for next season and we're going to sign a number of good players in the transfer window in January and next summer. Personally I don't blame him for wanting to wait and see how this season plays out. If I were 29-years-olds and had only one medal to show for the same amount of time Robin has been at Arsenal, I think I would question whether it was the right place for me to win things.

As a supporter, I of course want Robin to stay. I think he's a fantastic player and believe he's the best striker in the league. But I can understand why he is taking his time over deciding if he wants to stay.

Whilst the manager might claim that the camp is happy, as I alluded to it yesterday, London Colney is far from    being a happy place. The atmosphere has been brought down because of what went on during the summer and has left a number of our more experienced players questioning whether their future lies at the club.

On to tonight and Wenger believes the next two games in our group against Marseille will shape our future progression in the competition. The Frenchman is targeting four points from the two games, so you would think he would take a draw tonight against a club who have already beaten Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos to lead the Group F.

Whilst we haven't enjoyed the best of starts in the league, neither have our hosts. They are on an appalling run, but that is somewhat different in Europe where they have six points from two games. I don't think we can underestimate this team.

Arsene Wenger's 18 man squad travelled to France yesterday afternoon without Kieran Gibbs who is out for two weeks with a stomach muscle injury. However Aaron Ramsey is in the squad. Left out completely are Park Chu-young, Emmanuel Frimpong and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It is interesting that Wenger doesn't believe that the Englishman is the answer to Arsenal's problems at the moment, having scored two goals from his two first team starts and being in fine form for the England under-21s. However the manager has said the 18-year-old will be involved against Bolton in the Carling Cup.

Personally I would have taken Oxlade-Chamberlain. I think he offers us something different from Arshavin, Rosicky and Benayoun.

The manager was asked yesterday in his press conference about his return to Marseille where he enjoyed a fierce rivalry with when he was manager of Monaco. He was keen not to rake up the past - which had seen the French club stripped of one of their five titles due to match fixing. Wenger's assistant Boro Primorac was boss of Valenciennes - the club where three players spoke of the attempts to bribe them.

Instead he said OM were in the hearts of all football fans in Marseille and expected the atmosphere to be good at the stadium.

We'll have to be on our game tonight. But if we can produce a performance like we did against Udinese and Dortmund I'm sure we'll be fine.

I'll post my team preview later and if you're watching the game from home or can't watch it at all, join us for the live blog later.

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