Friday, 10 February 2012

Chamakh set to replace RVP? -Wenger won't reign in Songinho -AOC benched?

Morning Gooners.

So the trip to Sunderland marks the start of a run of games which could help us discover where we are this season. First a Premier League tie we should take something from, followed by a Champions League clash where we need to ensure we've got something to play for in the second leg and then a week Saturday another trip to the north east for an FA Cup game we have to win.

Three tough games but with players coming back from injury and perhaps a slight turning of the corner from our January dip in form, opportunities to put our season back on track.

The early team news ahead of tomorrow's clash at the Stadium of Light is good. We've got all the players who aren't sidelined with long term injuries available for selection.

The manager has revealed that Marouane Chamakh is back to full fitness and is available for selection for the first time since his stint at the Africa Cup of Nations. You would expect him to take a place on the substitutes bench for this one.

Kieran Gibbs is near to being fully fit and from the sound of it will also be on the bench. Meanwhile right back Carl Jenkinson is heading back to full fitness but he's still two weeks away from joining in at full training.

After a week without a game in midweek, I doubt there will be many changes to the starting line up. Chamakh might start ahead of RVP, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be rested, Ramsey could replace Rosicky. These are all options the manager will have.

The only other piece of team news is that Emmanuel Frimpong has undergone surgery and will be out until the autumn.

A defensive midfielder who has made us all realise how good he is by his early season absence is Alex Song and the manager has been talking about the other side to his game... playing higher up the pitch.

Wenger said:

"He is naturally a guy who tends to go forward and he always had good vision. 
"He has improved his technique of transmission. When he arrived here, the passing of his longer balls was not the best.  
"But he was worked on that, improved on that and now he can combine vision with technique."

For me, I would prefer the player who anchors our midfield not to venture too high up the pitch. It's not something I want to see every week - Song going walkies in the opposition penalty area. It's clear for all to see that Song can produce a fantastic final ball - earlier in the season against Borussia Dortmund is a prime example of what he can offer us in the final third.

But I would rather he played the Gilberto Silva role. Dropping back into defence when a full back attacks. Breaking up play and distributing it to one of his team mates.

However providing seven assists in all competitions is a great return for a player who is to all intents and purposes a holding midfielder. And from what the manager has said, it doesn't seem like he's going to curb Song's attacking mindset.

The manager goes on to talk about us continuing to create goal scoring opportunities.

He said

"Overall the most important thing is to create goalscoring opportunities, and at Bolton we did that quite well.  
"So if you can continue to do that, one day you will score seven, one day you will score none but most of the time you will score two or three."
Personally I'd like to see us be more clinical in front of goal. We need to take every opportunity which presents itself and I always feel it's criminal that we sometimes don't even force the goalkeeper to make a save when we take a shot.


Every team will miss opportunities. But with this Arsenal team seem so reliant on Robin to score all the goals, we need to take every chance we can get.

And talking of the Dutchman, he's the subject of some tittle-tattle. Real Madrid have declaring an interest in signing van Persie. Should we be surprised they want Robin? Not really. I'd be more surprised if any top club didn't want to sign him.

So the manager's press conference is later. Normally it's held on a Thursday ahead of a Saturday away game but there has obviously been a switch around. No doubt a lot of it will be taken up with the media asking Arsene about the England job... yawn!

Until tomorrow.



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