Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Walcott and Wilshere return but does Vermaelen? -Zaha confirmed! -KJH battle on

Morning Gooners.

Arsene Wenger has hit the nail on the head. Tonight's game will be a hard physical battle with Everton and we will only be rewarded if the team put a fully committed performance in. We've had some good results down the years at Goodison, and last year came away with a 1-0 victory thanks to a Thomas Vermaelen

But it was our team performance which won it for us. Aaron Ramsey came into the side and was played on the left of the attacking three and did a job for the team. It wasn't the most beautiful of games but it was a vital three points which pushed us up the table and added another brick of confidence to our wall.

Tonight's game is our fourth in 11 days. And we welcome back Theo Walcott into the squad. The England international was missed in Birmingham at the weekend and I would imagine will come straight back into the starting line up for tonight's game on Merseyside. The manager has also indicated Jack Wilshere will return to the side but the biggest decision for Wenger is over captain Thomas Vermaelen who was absent from the side on Saturday.

With the Belgium international not in top form at the moment and Laurent Koscielny developing a decent partnership alongside Per Mertesacker, their is legitimate questions as to whether the Arsenal captain deserves a position in the starting line up based exclusively on form. I would argue he doesn't and really needs to raise his game to be considered a permanent fixture in the side.

I would expect the starting 11 to be: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

The manager responded to questions from the media regarding the chanting made about his decision to substitute Olivier Giroud at Villa Park on Saturday.

He said:
"My job is to get the best out of my team with the potential we have. 
"At the end of last season we finished third. Honestly I don't think there was much more in the team than finishing third. My pride comes from that as well. 
"When we won the Premier League with zero defeats, which nobody else has ever done, you can think there is not much room to do much better. 
"At the end of the season, I want to stand in front of my mirror and think, 'could you have done more?'."
I think there are a lot of unrealistic expectations out there regarding where the club should be right now. Since Roman Abramovich piled his cash into Chelsea in June 2003 and Sheikh Mansour snapped up Manchester City in September 2009, Arsenal have only won the Premier League once and that was with a very special team, The Invincibles.

There is no way a club being run the way Arsenal are can compete with those two teams with unlimited resources. The other issue in the equation is the stadium move from Highbury to the Grove. Arsene Wenger has been able to keep his teams qualifying for the Champions League despite the budget restraints of moving to our new home.

So with all the issues we are facing: cash rich clubs with unlimited powers in the transfer market, is fourth place about where we are... I think it is.

I think Arsene Wenger does have questions to answer about certain decisions he makes, but I know in my heart of hearts he does what is best for Arsenal. And I could never question his loyalty to our club.

Does it matter that Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna are excluded from the club's 2013 official calendar? Not really. With the contract situations where they are with both players - unresolved - the right thing to do was not to include them.

Elsewhere, Schalke general manager Horst Heldt has said it will take "a lot of money" to prise Klaas-Jan Huntelaar away from the German club in January. Arsenal are looking to do a £6m deal for the 29-year-old Dutch international.

And finally, the manager has confirmed he's looking at Wilfried Zaha, the 20-year-old Crystal Palace attacker who looks set to move from the Championship club in January. Arsenal are one of the leading contenders to snap him up.

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

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