Saturday, 20 October 2012

447 days and Jack's back! -Wenger's midfield dream -Popstar Podolski

Morning Gooners.

The news came yesterday at 14.02 - it had been a development every Arsenal fan had been waiting for. For Jack Wilshere to finally be named in an Arsenal first team squad for the first time in 447 days.

Before training yesterday Arsene Wenger had no intention of selecting the 20-year-old midfielder but after Francis Coquelin finished the session with a knee injury, Wenger's decision was changed and Wilshere was added to the 18-man squad which will head to Carrow Road this afternoon.

Coquelin was due to be on the substitutes bench but injury has seen Wilshere take his place. It is unlikely that Jack will play any part of the game but as we've seen yesterday, unforeseen circumstances can change the best plans.

Like every Gooner I'm excited about Jack's return. He's the best football player at the club. But I know that my expectation levels need to be realistic. We're not going to see the best of Jack Wilshere this season and this term will be about getting him back to his best.

I'm with Arsene Wenger. Talk of Jack being involved in the England set-up really is a damning inditement on the current system. We want to have 30 players who have the same standard as Jack, then losing one wouldn't be such a huge blow.

Wenger said:
"The fate of the country is never to turn round to one player. You have to have many good players and if you have to wait until one player comes back that means something is wrong. 
"If Spain are world champion and European champion, it’s because they are spoilt for choice - if Cazorla is not fit, Fabregas plays; if Fabregas is not fit, Iniesta plays. 
"That for me is the biggest problem you have in England. 
"Even a player like Arteta doesn’t get called up for Spain and once you have a problem like that in England, you will not need to go bonkers for anybody."
The hype surrounding Wilshere's return has been too much. Whether he reaches the same levels as before remains to be seen. He had an outstanding opening season but has missed a season of football and getting back to the level he is clearly capable of will take time and patience.

But in Arsene Wenger he's got a manager who will be naturally cautious with his return and ensure he's not rushed back too quickly. One good thing about his involvement in the squad today is that he'll get back into the routine of being involved in a matchday squad and all that goes with it.

The manager was asked yesterday at his press conference whether Arsenal could have the best midfield in the Premier League and for me that's an easy one to answer on paper with every player fit - yes we have.

But at the moment we have several players injured and in someways it is madness to say now we've got the best midfield in the league when we're having to call upon a player in Wilshere - who Wenger has said is only 80% match fit - to sit on our substitute's bench.

Responding to the question about having the league's best midfield, Wenger said:
"That is what we want to show and since the start of the season the midfield has done very well. 
"But we have not had everyone available. If we can find the balance we have a chance of having the best midfield. 
"We have a good spirit and there is quality in our team play. 
"If we can show that consistently we have a chance. That is what is at stake for us. 
"Last season the whole season we did not play with Diaby and Jack. They are two fantastic players. Of course those two coming back and suddenly you have Ramsey, Jack, Diaby, Carzola, Arteta."
When we have everyone fit and competition for places, there is no doubt in my mind that we can match up toe to toe with anyone in the league. But at the moment we are down to playing Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla... Not a bad midfield trio by any means and I'm certainly not complaining, but if we did have Wilshere, Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Frimpong and Tomas Rosicky all fit and fighting for a place, that is when you could really start talking about us having the best midfield in the league.



Team news for today's match is as expected. As mentioned, Coquelin is injured. We're without England duo Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott. Laurent Koscielny has returned from international duty injured and won't be involved this afternoon and we know the long term absentees in: Wojeciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski,  Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby. I think it will be too early for Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Frimpong to be involved.

So Wenger's selection is made for him. Vito Mannone will continue in goal with a back four of Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Andre Santos. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey will play in the deep lying midfield roles with Gervinho, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski as the attacking three behind Olivier Giroud.

Finally there is some extra reading in the form of an interview with Lukas Podolski in The Sun.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.


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