Thursday, 19 April 2012

Arteta's out for the season -M'Vila and Vertonghen on radar -Barca lose

Morning Gooners.

So it's been more or less confirmed that Mikel Arteta has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ankle ligament injury. I don't want to revisit the points I made yesterday, but it's hard not to be very disappointed by the news. Arteta's absence creates an opportunity for someone else in the squad to come in and shine. But who that player will be is anyone's guess at the moment.

What we do know is that Abou Diaby is now a firm candidate having played 45 minutes for an Arsenal XI who beat the Olympic hopefuls of Oman in a behind closed doors friendly at London Colney. If the Frenchman came into the side it would however mean shuffling the pack, because I don't see him playing alongside Alex Song at the base of our midfield.

The other issue the manager faces is who he replaces Yossi Benayoun with, as he is ineligible to face his parent club. Gervinho seems to be the prime candidate to step into the team from the substitutes bench.

There is no way of getting around the fact that Saturday's game is a match we cannot afford to drop points in. Being just five points ahead of Spurs and Newcastle who both have a game in hand on us and seven points in front of Chelsea, who also having a game in hand.

Winning on Saturday still leaves us with our future being in our own hands. It's so important that this summer more than any other we need to finish in third spot. It will make things much more easier to manage in terms of not having to go through the process of a qualifier at the start of the season and also being able to complete our transfer business early.

Having done everything but get Lukasz Podolski to sign a contract, he'll be on his way before the European Championships. Then there is other business to do.

There is still talk of Yann M'Vila joining and he is a player that Arsene Wenger really would like to bring to the club. The player himself is doing everything he can it seems to sour relations with his present club Rennes and their supporters. Last summer he was priced out of a move, so maybe he's trying to lower his value with his actions.

I don't think he'll be a replacement for Alex Song, although it appears the Cameroon international doesn't want to sit down with the club and discuss his future at the moment. This is a concern as he'll be out of contact in the summer of 2014 and Arsenal really don't want to let him go into the final 18 months of his deal without having got him to put pen to paper on a new one.

As much as I like Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong, neither have been banging on the manager's door demanding to play and to be fair to them, both have had injuries this season which have prevented them  from playing more part in first team affairs. Song has played 30 league games this season and has looked tired in recent games, yet the manager hasn't been able switched him out. Having a player like M'Vila within the squad would allow him to do that.

What the Wigan game also set about showing is that we still lack depth at the heart of our defence. It seems that Johan Djourou has yet to regain the form he showed last season and we haven't seen Sebastien Squillaci in the starting 11 for months. If the manager doesn't feel either has something to offer he must move them on in the summer. That will open a space in the squad for a new signing. Could Jan Vertonghen be that player?

The Ajax defender has been on the manager's radar, so a move could happen if we can get him at the right price.

So Chelsea won last night. I'm still not sure whether that is a good thing for us or not. I think we'll only really know after 90 minutes on Saturday.

Until tomorrow.

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