Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Henry and Arteta doubts for Sunday -Lazio want Arshavin -PHW speaks rubbish

Morning Gooners.

We might as well start with some positive news. The club are hoping that Thomas Vermaelen will be able to play this Sunday, three weeks after picking up a calf injury in the win over QPR. You would have thought the Belgium defender would slot straight back in to the defence at left back, if he is fit enough to start.  However there is less than great news about Theirry Henry.

The Daily Express are reporting that Henry limped out of training yesterday after picking up a calf injury. The Frenchman has had a scan and the club are hoping it's not serious. They report that Arsene Wenger was hoping to played the Gunner's record goal scorer from the start of Sunday's match, but that plan is now on ice.

Also facing a race against time to be fit for this weekend is Mikel Arteta who missed the Swansea game with a calf strain. Both the Daily Mirror and Daily Express report he's undergoing intensive treatment in a hope that he will be ready for Sunday's clash with Manchester United.

If things weren't going badly enough for Arsene Wenger, these two players facing a fitness battle to play against Alex Ferguson's men, could leave us with yet another threadbare squad to pick from.

Sunday's bench for the game in Wales looked worrying.  Who knows what it might look like this weekend coming. The manager says we've got a big squad - yes, he might be right in numerical terms - but in terms of quality, we're still very short of where we need to be.

Johan Djourou thinks it's the ideal game to be coming up next.

The defender, who celebrates his 25th birthday today, said:
"It's a fantastic game for us after Swansea which was difficult to swallow. 
"It will be a bounce-back game. We have to turn up, we have the away game still in our minds so there is revenge to take. 
"We have to keep working hard to try to improve."
I'm not so sure that he's right. It's going to be a tough game to win. But I suppose the main aim will be to avoid defeat. The last time we lost three league matches on the bounce was in April 2007, the first two losses were on the road and then our first league defeat at the Grove to West Ham.

We cannot fail to remember the tonking we got at Old Trafford. Another drubbing like that would see us go full circle in the same pattern we started the season. We had improved following that game but we're still very vulnerable as a team. We don't seem to have remembered especially in the last couple of games that we need to defend as a team.

If all 10 outfield players don't give 100 per cent in defending our goal, we're more than likely to concede. You can put the Fulham defeat down to a heavy festive schedule, but I personally thought there was a lack of desire in Wales. That is something the manager has to put right. We need every single player working hard for the team.

While we all appreciate that Andrey Arshavin doesn't like to defend, he needs too. And I don't see why when players are being criticised for their lack of application Theo Walcott isn't mentioned. He seems to be given more of a free ride by the media/supporters because he's English.

And talking of Arshavin, the Daily Mirror report that Lazio are interesting in signing Arshavin, if they can get him for the right money. £6m is the talked about fee. I don't see the Russian leaving in January, not when Gervinho is at the Africa Cup of Nations. The manager would have possibly allowed the player to leave last summer had the futures of Fabregas and Nasri not been so uncertain. I think it's more than likely he'll be on his way this summer, unless we face the same predicament with the futures of van Persie and Walcott.

Finally our chairman has been talking and says it won't be a disaster if we finish the season outside the top four.

Peter Hill-Wood told his favourite newspaper the Daily Star:
"From a financial point of view, not qualifying for the Champions League is quite a blow. 
"We have been planning for not qualifying every year, so it is not a disaster, but it would be nice if we could."
While I agree we should not plan financially to play in the Champions League each season, I do believe that it should be the minimum goal set for the manager. And it's not all about the money anyway.

However saying the "it would be nice if we could" play in Europe's elite competition next season is hardly the message us Gooners want to hear at the moment. We want the board to demand the manager does everything in his power to achieve the minimum target he is set each season.

If that means he has to go into the transfer market this month and buy the players he feels we need to do it, then that's what he should be encouraged to do. We shouldn't be worrying about paying a few million over the odds for a player who will help push us into the top four. Our competitors are strengthening, why shouldn't we?

The January window is there to be used. We could have had the signing of Henry wrapped up on the first day of the month but we leave it until the last possible moment to sign him so he's available to play against Leeds. Why couldn't he have provided the manager with an option from the bench at Craven Cottage?

Playing against Udinese in the Champions League qualifier in August scared the life out of me. The thought of having to watch Arsenal in the Europa League left me feeling sick. I don't think Champions League football is a right for us as a club, but it shows how spoilt we've been for the past 14 years.

The board need to be pushing the manager in the right direction and I don't think the chairman is doing that. Perhaps Stan Kroenke will have a word with Arsene....

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