Sunday, 2 September 2012

Szczesny out so Mannone starts? -Walcott contract still unresolved -Pires issues warning

Morning Gooners.

It's September again already and this is set to be the month which will have a huge impact on where we'll end up in the league with three season defining games.

It starts today at Anfield against Liverpool. Last time we went there we won 2-1. Wojciech Szczesny produced a man of the match performance to keep the home side at bay, while at the other end a certain Dutchman scored a brace after a Laurent Koscielny own goal had given the home side the lead.

A game we had no right to win but three points we brought back to north London after a spirited performance.

Today we have to do without said Dutchman - no longer on the premises - and our goalkeeper remains injured. Laurent Koscielny is back in the squad and available for selection but may have to be content with a place on the bench.

When you look back to the team who played at Anfield in March, two have been sold, one has returned to his parent club after a season long loan and three are injured. A slight transformation..

I expect the team to line up to be: Mannone; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Diaby; Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud.

After another week of training together, the manager believes the 11 players he'll start with later is looking much more like a team.

He said::

"We have not scored and we are not completely at our best going forward. 
"But I think that will happen very quickly. On the pitch, we look a team who is ready to fight together. 
"At the moment I do not want to put too much pressure on them. You have to give players who have come in a bit of time to adapt to the league."

While the English game is one players need to adapt to, I've been very impressed with the development game on game in the three games I've seen the new signings play in. Podolski is looking sharper, Cazorla well he's just magical and Giroud, well at least he's not shy in front of goal.

It'll come good with time. However that's not a commodity we have a lot of. As previously stated, this month could kill off our title chances. But we have shown good defensive strength and our work as a team has been positive. We're creating chances. Now the issue is putting them in the back of the net.

Arsenal legend Robert Pires has said it may take up to four month for our new signings to truly find their feet in the league.

He told the Sunday Mirror:

"It takes time to adapt. And that’s especially hard for the attacking players. 
"It was four months before I felt comfortable playing in the Premier League in England.  
"My first introduction to football in England was [landing on] the grass on the pitch! The game was so much quicker and more physical than I was used to in France. 
"It is not easy and you have to adapt. It will be so much faster than the game Giroud and ­Podolski are used to. 
"Not only do you need to become stronger physically, you have to be mentally stronger too. It’s very demanding."

When Pires joined the team we weren't in a stage of rebuilding the team. With the arrival of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla we are. These three players are going to be first choice from the off, so they need to hit the ground running. I'm certainly prepared to be patient with them because I know each of them is of the quality we want Arsenal players to be. I just pray they start scoring sooner rather than later.

With a team which wants to spread the responsibility of scoring around, we need to get those players who were putting the ball in the back of the net last season on to the pitch. That might mean finding a place for Theo Walcott, last season's second highest scorer.

The Sunday Mirror report that the club is still to reach agreement with Theo on signing a new deal. However it appears the club hierarchy have become tired with these contract wrangles and will now move to a position where players will not be allowed to enter the final two years of their deal without having talks over an extension.

The England international started from the bench last weekend. I get the impression that is where he'll start today. But I hope I'm pleasantly surprised by the manager and he'll start and have a big game for us.

If there was ever a time we needed him to show his striker's instinct it is now.

I'll be heading to Anfield shortly. It's my first away game of the season and first ever trip to Liverpool's stadium. Hoping the boys can make it a memorable day with a fantastic victory.

Anyway, that's it for today. I'll be back with more tomorrow.





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