Saturday, 6 October 2012

Wenger's two changes -Walcott's centre forward chance -Cazorla sets the record straight

Morning Gooners.

It's game day and I think I'm coming down with the virus which has hit the Arsenal camp. I've got a sore throat which I didn't have before I went out for a few beers last night.

Arsene Wenger has blamed shaking hands for passing the virus around London Colney which has hit Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen, Francis Coquelin and Per Mertesacker in recent weeks.

As well as players it's also left members of staff at the training centre unwell. But hopefully the measures which have been put in place will ensure no more players will get ill.

The manager hopes to be able to restore Mertesacker to the starting line up and I'd imagine the big German will be one of two changes, coming in for Laurent Koscielny. I think the other change will see Olivier Giroud  recalled to the starting line up in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Gervinho moving to the right hand side.

The only other change the manager might be thinking about is playing Aaron Ramsey alongside Mikel Arteta. But I think he'll want to give Francis Coquelin a few more games in the middle.

This won't be the game we see Theo Walcott played through the middle. The manager admitting yesterday that he will play the 23-year-old through the middle at some stage. Wenger also revealed the club and Walcott's people will sit down for a fresh round of talks this coming week in order to resolve his contract situation.

Personally I hope Theo does sign. But I can't see it happening now. It's got too far down the line and with the possibility of a bumper contract next summer if he signs on a Bosman elsewhere, I can't see him putting pen to paper on a new deal with Arsenal.

Elsewhere, the manager has urged all fans to be patient with Jack Wilshere following his return to fitness. The 20-year-old is set for his second game in a week on Monday when he'll play for the under-21s against Reading.

With Abou Diaby's injury keeping him on the sidelines, there is a clamour in some quarters to get Wilshere back playing for the first team. However I think the club are right to play the long term game and not through Jack back into the first team for possibly some short term gain.

It's going to take him some time to get back the match fitness he's lost in the 14 months he's spent on the sidelines. And I honestly don't see us seeing the best of him until next season at the earliest.

In today's newspapers there are a couple of fantastic interviews with Santi Cazorla. John Cross speak to the Spaniard for the Daily Mirror. And Cazorla talks also to Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph.

That's it for today. I'm heading to Upton Park later, so see those of you heading to the game there. If not, I'll be back here tomorrow with more.

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