Friday’s Thoughts

They say in football that your most important game is your next one. Why do they say it? Because it’s true…

So whilst Wednesday nights late win over Marseille should still be floating about in the teams subconscious in order to act as a reminder of what can be achieved if you defend responsibly, keep fighting until the end and take your chances when they come to you, the main focus should now be on facing and defeating Stoke City Rugby Football Club on Sunday lunchtime.

Obviously it’s slightly early to be discussing the game in-depth, Wenger won’t hold his pre match presser until later today and also I’m going to need something to discuss tomorrow…

What we do already know is – Carl Jenkinson is set to spend up to two weeks on the sidelines due to the knee injury picked up in France on Wednesday. There will be official confirmation from the club today, but if early reports are correct it’s a real blow for young Jenks, an extended run in the side in Bacary Sagna’s absence would have done him the world of good in terms of progression and perhaps confidence. Let’s hope that his period of recovery is short and he can get back quickly, not only for his own sake but also because we’re short a recognised right back. I would imagine that Johan Djourou will start there on Sunday after coming on in place of Jenkinson in the Velodrome, it seems the most sensible solution. Francis Coquelin has already stated he wouldn’t be confidant playing there and whilst it’s been suggested by some that Laurent Koscielny could make the switch from centre half he is far to important and good in his natural position. Don’t be surprised if young Nicholas Yennaris find himself a seat on the bench, versatile enough to play right back, centre half or in midfield he has impressed in Neil Banfield’s reserves and caught Wenger’s eye.

Kieran Gibbs also misses out again with the injury to his stomach muscles and while the boss has said it is nothing bad he still expects the left back to be out for a week or two yet which gives Andy Santos an extended run in the side. It’s more stop start for Gibbo, I felt he was starting to find his feet and his form so it’s disappointing for him to have to start again, again. Once he does come back he may well find that Santos has done enough to be considered first choice. That said the Brazilian is still finding his feet, which is understandable, and whilst I’m sure he was involved in some hard-hitting encounters during his time in Turkey with Fenerbache, old square head will be treated to a real baptism of fire and ‘Welcome to England’ when he lines up against Tony Pulis’ hired thugs.

Interestingly I did see someone mention on Twitter that a back five of Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Santos might we’ll be the tallest back line we’ve had in some time, whilst that will no doubt be a useful tool in our armoury on Sunday it is yet another shift to our back line. In our fourteen games so far this season we have only started consecutive games with the same back five on two occasions –

Szczesny – Sagna – Vermaelen – Koscielny – Gibbs versus Newcastle and Udinese.

Szczesny – Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs versus Swansea and Borussia Dortmund.

That level of instability is always going to have a negative impact, a more settled side can surely only bring more stability.

A bit of good news on that front is that Thomas Vermaelen is set to return to full training today and according to Le Patron the Belgian is ten days away from a first team return. That would suggest that he may not be involved against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a week tomorrow but as this weekends game is the most important, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Pulis already has a target in mind for January

Stoke played in Disney’s Europa League last night defeating Maccabi Tel-Aviv by three goals to nil at the Britannia. It would have been nice had the knuckle draggers been forced to endure a torrid return trip from some far-flung European outpost but you can’t have it all and we have had an extra days rest/preparation so lets hope we use that to our advantage.

Well I think I may well have discussed enough something I wasn’t going to discuss much, so I’ll leave it there for this morning.

Enjoy your Friday’s, it’s almost football time.

Just a quick note to say you may have noticed I have switched my Twitter username from @Up_TheAsenal to @PaulSavillUTA – If you hadn’t noticed well then now you know. If you don’t much care, fair play to you.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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