Saturday, 10 November 2012

Wilshere to emulate Adams -Wenger hands Vermaelen warning -Diaby's gift -Taarabt warning

Morning Gooners.

Today's game has to be all about three points. I don't care how we play, if we score in the dying seconds of injury time or if the player who puts the ball in the back of the net for us is miles off-side, we have to get back to winning ways.

We need a shot of confidence. Last weekend's league result wasn't what any of us had hoped for and being pegged back to a 2-2 draw in midweek wasn't the end of the world considering the opposition we were facing.

However today we need to boost moral and get back to winning ways. Of course there can be no complacency. We've seen what can happen when the team turns up expecting to win. We lose or come away with nothing more than a draw.

Fulham will be tricky opponents. They've proved to everyone they are a good side and with Mr Potato Head in charge, you know we're going to be in for a tough afternoon.

I expect the manager to make just one change from the team which drew in Germany in midweek with Aaron Ramsey replacing the suspended Jack Wilshere in midfield, if the Welshman has passed his fitness test.

One player who won't be involved is Abou Diaby,  who the manager has revealed has a "muscular thigh problem" and won't be back until the New Year. He'll be like a new signing. A gift for Christmas.

Despite his poor form, Thomas Vermaelen will continue to play this afternoon. He'll no doubt continue at left back where he didn't convince on Tuesday night. The captain hasn't found any kind of good form so far this season. He looks totally out of sorts and the manager is pinning some of the blame for that on his new responsibilities as club captain.

Wenger said:

"Physically he has no problem. You put more pressure on yourself when you are the captain. You want to be the best player in the team. You cannot be a defender and not make a mistake. 
"But if you make one then maybe you put a bit more pressure on yourself, because you think, 'I’m captain and I cannot afford that'.
"He is a guy who is completely involved in the game. He breathes his football from morning until night. He thinks about it and wants to do well. 
"If he deserves to play, I play him. Captain or not, I think he deserves to play. He can help our stability at the back. That is important."

For me, the manager has backed himself into a corner after giving Vermaelen the captaincy. I know he doesn't attach as much importance to who wears the armband when he speaks publicly, but he certainly seems to behind the scenes. He's never dropped a captain that I can remember through poor form and it's getting to the stage where Vermaelen could find himself on the sidelines.

It's interesting that Wenger has publicly stated he's prepared to drop his captain. It might serve as a wake up call for Vermaelen. He's been far from his best this season - Per Mertesacker has been our best defender by a mile - and last season Laurent Koscienly was outstanding. Now those two are playing alongside one another in the heart of the defence building a relationship, Vermaelen has been shifted to play left back because the manager has lost faith in Andre Santos. When Kieran Gibbs returns to fitness, the manager will have a decision to make.

In my mind, Vermaelen isn't part of the club's best defensive unit at the moment. If everyone was fit, I'd pick Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Gibbs. For me the Belgium international hasn't pushed on after his very good first season at the club. Of course he's was out injured in his second season but came back last season and played in 40 games.

However I do wonder how much having the captaincy has effected him. I know when the greedy badger left, the manager had a tough choice to make between Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta. We now know he chose Vermaelen over the Spainard but it was a very tight call and it could have easily gone the other way. Personally I wish Arteta was our captain. He for me is the first name on the team sheet and has been one of our most consistent performers since joining the club.

I hope Vermaelen can find his form again. He's a very good player and I'm certain can become a club legend, if he can turn things around and cut the silly mistakes he's made - like last weekend at Old Trafford - out of his game.

The manager has also spoken about Lukas Podolski. The German has also lost his form after a decent start to his career in English football and hasn't found the back of the net in his last six games for Arsenal. But the manager believes he'll adapt to the league, like Robert Pires did.

Jack Wilshere has spoken to the BBC's Football Focus programme, an interview which will be broadcast this lunchtime. He's told them his recall to the England squad has come "too soon", something I think we can all agree on, but that he believes the call up is a confidence boost.

The midfielder has also granted an interview to the Daily Mail, which is also well worth a read. He talks about emulating the achievements of Tony Adams and says that finishing fourth place in the league is not a trophy.

And finally, QPR manager Mark Hughes has warned off potential suitors of striker Adel Taarabt. He's emplyed the classic talking up the player tactic - 'he loves life here', 'he's very happy', 'we wouldn't consider selling him' - designed to increase the price any club will have to pay if they want to sign the Moroccan international.

Considering Hughes was prepared to listen to offer for Taarabt last summer, I wouldn't be surprised if he did cash in on him this January. Taarabt is a luxury player for QPR. The haven't won a game this season and the only reason why Hughes hasn't been sacked is because none of the team around them have pulled away from the bottom three.

Taarabt would be an interesting signing for us. We could certainly use some creativity.

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

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