Saturday, 19 November 2011

Djourou to start -Henry to return? -Goetza scouted ahead of January move

Morning Gooners.

Finally, it's here. Real football is just hours away and I for one can't wait. I suppose having gone into the international break on the back of a good run, the last two weeks haven't been as arduous as they might have been. But it's great to have Arsenal back in action.

It's off to Carrow Road we head - well the team travelled last night - for a lunchtime kick off. Let's hope the early start will have little impact on the players, but we do seem to start these early games slowly. The manager, who met the media yesterday, is keen for us to focus from the start and to unsure that we are professional enough to get back to where we left off prior to the international break.

Chelsea was our first win of the season away from home in the league. That kind of defensive performance is not something we want to see every week and the manager has a decision to make as to who will slot into the side at right back with the injury to Carl Jenkinson which will leave him on the side lines for the next three to four weeks.

The options to the manager are Laurent Koscielny or Johan Djourou. My hunch is that the manager will stick with the Koscielny/Vermaelen partnership in the heart of defence and draft in Djourou as an emergency right back. It is clear we need to have a stable defensive performance if we are going to get anything from this game. So sticking with our first choice central pairing for me is vital for that to happen.

The manager believes that one bad result could lead to doom and gloom returning.

He said:

"We have come from hell and if we've learned something it is to put 100 per cent effort in every single game. 
"Our target is to come back to fight at the top of the Premier League. That is more important that anything else. It is vital that we come back from where we were in the championship. 
"Usually once the devil has you in his hands he doesn't let you go again. What I mean by that is that you are concerned that when the confidence level drops, it takes time to come out of it. 
"Once you are 17th in the league you cannot say for a club like Arsenal that it is a comfortable position. 
"It is still a warning in our head but I think we have shown remarkable mental strength and consistency since. Maybe to have gone through that helps us keep the urgency."
The boss admitted that Norwich, Swansea and QPR were surprise packages this year and in previous seasons we've let ourselves down against the promoted sides. I think this season however  the mentality around the squad is different. There are no small games where we can go into them believing we can win just by stepping onto the pitch. Perhaps that is down to the start  we've had and the fact we've had to build our confidence back from an unnatural low.

There were the obvious questions about whether Thierry Henry would return to the club on loan after it was revealed he's joined the players for training during the MLS close season. The manager batted the questions away with a straight back by insisting that he's not considered it.

He said:
"We have a big squad and anyway, that problem cannot examined before the end of December. We have 26 outfield players so we have a massive squad. In football you rule very few things out.  
"Because it depends if you have seven injuries until January. At the moment we have a big enough squad to cope. We've got [Theo] Walcott, Gervinho, [Robin] Van Persie, Park [Chu-young], [Marouane] Chamakh who are all strikers." 

Of the five players the manager lists, two are going to the African Cup of Nations in January, so we will have a shortage. Add to that the proposition of an injury to any of the others and we'd be seriously lacking cover. If he says that Henry can still run 100 meters in 11 seconds and is still looking like a top class player, what would be the risk in signing him for two months whilst Chamakh and Gervinho were away?

That said, if the Daily Mail are correct and we'll try to sign Mario Goetze in January, perhaps there won't be a need for Henry. However he is someone who knows the league and won't need any adaption time.

My team for today would be


Djourou - Koscielny - Vermaelen - Santos

Song - Arteta

Walcott - Ramsey - Gervinho

van Persie

I'll post the official team line up once it's announced. Enjoy the game where ever you're watching it.

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