Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Wenger's waiting for Gnabry to impress -Rowley's German mission revealed -Arsahvin's attitude

Morning Gooners.

It's the league cup tonight. I've given up calling it by its sponsors name. It's had too many and it's getting to the stage where I can't remember who's sponsoring it this season and I don't really care!

The team news for tonight's game is in. Arsene Wenger will not be risking either Jack Wilshere or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of this weekend match in Manchester. It seems as though had Gervinho not picked up an ankle injury against QPR - the extent of which is not yet known as the Ivorian underwent a scan yesterday - the Ox would have played.

So Arsene Wenger is left with a mixture of first team players, substitutes from Saturday's win and youngsters to pick from for tonight's fourth round match. I would expect there to be a number of changes to the side to freshen it up and give those players not getting games in the league a chance to impress the manager.

In goal, the fast food loving teenager Damian Martinez will get another chance to play. Wenger can't risk playing Vito Mannone in this one with Wojciech Szczesny not yet ready to play and Lukasz Fabianski out for a number of months. So the youngster will continue with the gloves in this competition no doubt.

The full back positions should be filled with Carl Jenkinson getting the nod on the right and would expect Ignasi Miquel to play on the left. In the heart of the defence both Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou need games, so I can't see the manager playing anyone else there.

In midfield I'd expect Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin to play the deep-lying roles with Andrey Arshavin ahead of them. On the wings Serge Gnabry is bound to occupy one of the roles with Thomas Eisfeld on the other possibly. And I can't see anyone apart from Marouane Chamakh leading the line for his first start of the season.

That's a pretty strong side given the injury crisis we're currently going through. What I wouldn't want the manager to do is start a member of his first team for them to get injured when we've got a very important match to play this weekend.

I think the player I'm most looking forward to watching tonight is Serge Gnabry. He's impressed in the cameo appearance he made against Norwich and Arsene Wenger obviously rates him highly to have fast tracked him into the first team squad in the short space of time he's been at the club.

The manager says of the German/Ivorian teenager:

"He is a guy who can play in all the offensive positions. I think he could even play centre forward. He has a kind of efficiency in his game, and can get on the end of things. 
"He has big potential, creative potential, finishing potential. Serge is 17 years old and strong for a boy of that age. 
"It is difficult to compare with anyone. He is not small, he is stocky with good body balance. He glides, he is fluent."

Like all young attacking players Gnabry will start out on the wings. He played on the left in the pre-season Cologne friendly and slotted in on the right against Norwich. Quite where he'll play tonight is anyone's guess. But I'm sure he'll want to pull out all the stops to ensure he's in the manager's thinking for the coming weeks.

A player who impressed me on Saturday was Andrey Arshavin. I have to admit I have a soft spot for the Russian. I think he's a hugely talented player who can change a game - a type of player we don't have many of. But his work rate as a team member is constantly questioned, especially the defensive side of his game. He's not keen on tracking back.

But Arsene Wenger has leapt again to his player's defence. The Frenchman said:

"I say that because [his attitude] has been questioned. I don't tolerate that. If that was the case I would not speak about it.  
"But Andrey comes in every day and practices well, he is focused and wants to do well. I insist on this, because it was questioned and it is completely unjustified. In this case perception is not reality.
"He is a classy player and a top professional with a great attitude. You could see that when he came on [against QPR], his brightness and his intelligence with the final ball is fantastic."
Arshavin does look in the best shape of his Arsenal career at the moment and certainly seems eager to impress when he gets a chance. Maybe that's because his contract is coming to an end at the end of this season. All the talk is of Theo Walcott's deal. But Arshavin's contact expires in July 2013.

I don't think the club will be looking to renew the Russian's deal, but hopefully because he's looking to continue to play football elsewhere he'll be putting in good performances and working hard for the team trying to earn himself a good a deal as possible for next season.


There are a couple of other interesting stories about. The Daily Mail report our German scouting network is to be boosted because of the impact Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski have had on the team. Wenger obviously believes there is great value to be had in the German market and that's why chief scout Steve Rowley has spent a lot of time over there.

And Emmanuel Frimpong doesn't believe he's ready for the Arsenal first team yet and a loan move could be on the cards, so says the Daily Mirror.

That's it for today. I'm off to Reading tonight, so see all of you traveling Gooners there. I'll be back tomorrow with more.


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