Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Thank Gael Clichy! -Vertonghen move back on? -Jack's cavorting with the enemy

Morning Gooners.

It seems as though Gael Clichy didn't want to play against us next Sunday, doesn't it? Not only does he get two yellow cards earning himself a sending off last night at Stamford Bridge, he also gets a one game ban - meaning he'll miss Sunday's big match at Eastlands.

Not only that, had his team mates not been forced to play with ten men for half an hour in a game against Chelsea last night, they may have still been unbeaten this morning thus continuing to hope they could go the season unbeaten.

So this morning I thank the footballing Gods for Gael Clichy. Not only does he help us Gooners out once, but twice in the space of 60 minutes. Money may well buy Manchester City the title, but luckily (thanks to Gael) it won't buy them our Invincibles record. That is the one I hold dear to my heart.

We'll head to Manchester next Sunday knowing the home team have just suffered two big confidence blows within a week. First going out of the Champions League and now being beaten in the league for the first time this season. We've got a big chance to get a result there, what with our improving away record - three wins on the bounce.

However we got some bad news yesterday regarding our own left back, signed as Clichy's replacement. Andre Santos is going to be out for three months at least once he undergoes ankle ligament surgery in Brazil this week. The defender flew back to his homeland yesterday.

The club said in a statement:
"Arsenal Football Club can confirm that, following investigations and subsequent medical opinions by Club specialists, left-back Andre Santos will have surgery to repair ligament damage in his right ankle sustained in the game against Olympiacos last week. 
"Andre will have surgery in Brazil this week and is expected to be out for around three months. Everyone at the Club wishes him well."
It's obviously a huge blow as it appeared the Brazilian was finally finding his feet within English football. The 28-year-old will be back, towards the end of March, but the bigger problem is what the manager does in the mean time.

With Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs also out injured, the manager is facing a huge issue at full back on both sides. None of these players are days away from returning and even when they do return will they be fit until the end of the season. Sanga tweeted last night that he should be back running soon, which is a boost but he won't be ready in time for the busy Christmas period.

Personally I don't think we can take a risk and not do some business in January, even if it means signing someone on loan until the end of the season. There is no one knocking down the manager's door from the reserve team who fits the bill. It's strange that in previous seasons we've had an embarrassment of riches at full back and now we are forced to play central defenders there.

We can get buy with playing Johan Djourou and Thomas Vermaelen in these positions in the short term, but I would prefer to see the manager play recognised full backs. Playing Djourou and Vermaelen out of position doesn't help the team's balance. Neither want to get forward as much and offer the support our attack needs. They both probably make us more defensively solid, but our game is based on attacking football and scoring goals and without a threat from out wide we aren't as capable of scoring.

The Daily Express say Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen is a target. He'll cost £10m. I'm not sure the manager will want to do a permanent deal for a player who is naturally a central defender considering he has five, plus Ignasi Miquel and Karl Bartley waiting in the wings for their chance.

In other news, Jack Wilshere flew to Barcelona yesterday. And no, there isn't any truth in the rumour that the Spanish and European champions have paid us £25m and Lionel Messi for Jack. He is in fact cavorting with the enemy (Yes, that is Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart ). In all seriousness, he's doing a Nike shoot out there.

Any proposed move for Mario Gotze could be off, as the attacker has a thigh injury. Perhaps a move for  Yoann Gourcuff could be back on the cards, despite the manager ruling it out.

And yesterday saw three Arsenal executives fly to Nigeria to discuss plans for a pre-season tour incorporating a game in the African country before the start of next season. I suppose if Asia is too far away, it certainly makes sense to go to Africa, where we have a large fan base as well.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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