Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Diame to fight Allardyce for Arsenal move -David Villa's £10m move on?

Morning Gooners.

It's West Ham tonight and the chance to close the gap on the teams above us in the league table. Three points could be vital for our chances of competing in the Champions League next season and after our poor run of form in January a welcome boost. With a run of three league games at home - staring tonight - we've got to put some points on the board.

The manager knows this is an important time for this team. He's got to help rebuild their confidence after two disappointing results against Manchester City and Chelsea. Games we should have taken points from. I do believe the manager when he says that this team can beat anyone on their day. We saw in the second halves of both those games we can compete with the bigger teams. But we have to stop giving them a 45 minute head-start.

Tonight's game will be tough. All London derbies are. But especially against Sam Allardyce's team.

The team news isn't particularly promising either, with both Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin out through injury. The manager is giving late fitness tests to Abou Diaby, Lucas Podolski and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Otherwise it's the same squad we had at the weekend. There was no mention of Tomas Rosicky in the manager's press conference.

Quite how we fill the void from the loss of Arteta and Coquelin is the most interesting aspect of how this team will set up. Will the manager play Jack Wilshere back in the deep lying role alongside Diaby or Aaron Ramsey, move Santi Cazorla into the middle behind Olivier Giroud and then recall Podolski to patrol the left? That seems the most obvious answer to our problem.

Could one of the players lining up against us tonight be the answer? Mohamed Diame has been talked about considerably but it appears the player feels his current employers aren't respecting the release clause in his contract. And according to the Daily Mail is prepared to report his club to FIFA to get a move to a bigger club.

We'll get to see how good he is if he gets the chance to play tonight. The manager feels he's a player who could make a difference.

One player who doesn't seem to be on his way to north London anymore is Wilfried Zaha, who the manager now says we weren't in for from the start. That's clearly a fib. The manager was interested in him, as he admitted last week. But it appears that Manchester United have put together a better package than us which is acceptable to Palace.

Anyway, I'm not too bothered about missing out on Zaha. He's not a player we need for now. We need two experienced players - a midfielder and a striker - who can push us on an a run which will secure us a place in the top four.

Could that player be a Spanish international striker? The Sun report we're waiting until the end of the transfer window to try and push through a £10m deal for David Villa. That sort of price range does sound more acceptable for a 31-year-old with 18 months remaining on his contract. We'll have to wait and see what happens there but there's still time to do a few deals.

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

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