WBA Preview: Let’s not have a repeat of last year

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So this afternoon it’s the turn of Roy Hodgson’s West Bromwich Albion to visit the grove and as the title of this post requests lets not have a repeat of last year…

I won’t go into detail on that 2-3 defeat at the hands of a Baggies side that had only just come back up after a spell in the Championship, to find yourselves trailing by three goals at home against a newly promoted side who had seen a first half penalty saved makes for as uncomfortable viewing as any of this seasons defeats doesn’t it?

Chelsea number two Roberto Di Mateo was the man in the West Brom hot seat back then so at least the Italian won’t be able to stage a similar game plan this time around but I’m sure Hodgson will be reminding his players that victory is achievable.

In all honesty I think we’ll be far too strong for the Baggies but then again I said that last season too so what the hell do I know? But given our current form particularly at the Emirates I find it hard to see past a home win, even when I take my Arsenal-tinted glasses off. If I’m honest I don’t really know how Albion are getting on this season, I know that’s fairly lazy of me and usually I would have spent a little time looking at their form and their squad so as to offer you a bit more insight on the fixture, at least I hope that’s what you usually get from my match previews?, but I’ve not really had the time and as I sit writing the first draft of this post I’m upon a train headed for the south coast of England with no form of Internet connectivity. I’ve dredged my brains for some kind of repressed memory I may have that gives an indication of our opponents form but I’ll I’m getting is a vague recollection that West Brom’s “celebrity” fans include Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles. I don’t particularly like either of those two but if the people in charge at the Hawthorns want to do a swap for Shovel from M People and Piers Morgan I don’t think it’s a deal I could turn down.

Anyway I digress, partially as a distraction technique to cover up the fact I’ve not done my home work but partly because I’m quite adapt at going off on a tangent..

So back to the game and we have no new injury concerns. It’s incredible isn’t it, we seem to have had a real run of our key players staying fit (everybody touch some wood – except you over there, you stop what your doing right now. That call for mass wood touching was not a euphemism you pervert) Kieran Gibbs and Marouane Chamakh remain unavailable but aside from those two and long term absentees Jack Wilshere, Abu Diaby and Bacary Sagna we’re at full strength and I for one think thats pretty flippin’ positive and I’ll be praying that when the players return and we awaken from yet another inter-coma in a couple of weeks time that will still be the case. The boss says that Gibbs and Chamakh should be available again by then so that should strengthen us even further, depending on how you look at it, but the gaffer has made those sorts of predictions before. Take Diaby (some body please take Diaby) the Frenchman has been expected to return after every international break since Euro 2008 or at least that’s how it seems.

With such a wondrous selection of players for Wenger to choose from it’ll be interesting to see the line up this afternoon, I think we’ll see the return of Laurent Koscielny and it could well be Per Mertesacker who makes way. Vermaelen needs game time and Larry had a breather during the week so let Mertz have a break. I know it won’t he the first time we’ve seen Vermaelen and Koscielny paired together but it will be interesting to get a look at the duo marshalling our back line together.

I’ll be surprised if Van Persie dosen’t come back into the side, I don’t think Park was quite as poor against Marseille as some posts have suggested but personally I wouldn’t start the South Korean today. Play Robin from the get go and hopefully with a large chunk of the second half remaining our lead will be comfortable enough that Ju can replace the Dutchman and maybe show the kind of form he did against Bolton in the Carling Cup a few weeks ago. There has been a lot of talk this week of January moves for a striker, it’s something I would welcome especially if it were a player such a Lukas Podolski as some have suggested because I’m a big fan of the German. But for now Wenger is claiming he is quite happy the options he has up front but then again he would wouldn’t he.

Other than Robin & Larry coming back into the starting XI i think the team will stay the same, the boss isn’t going to rest players ahead of their international jaunts so aside from those two I don’t think we’ll see any changes from Tuesday nights European stalemate.

I’ve just remembered something else about WBA – With his hair dyed platinum blonde Peter Odemwingie looks like ’80’s pop star Yazz. That would most likely be more of a benefit to the baggies were they attempting to win promotion from the Championship. Christ, M People & Yazz in one post… I think it’s time for me to wrap this up.

I’m not going to be at the game this afternoon, as you read this I’ll be on a completely separate body of land and the reason for that is related to the fact that I’m 32 years young today – Yep 1979 was a great year for Gooners. All I want in way of a present is an Arsenal win and three more of those precious points.

Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching it and keep me updated on events at the grove via Twitter. Dave will be delivering your post match report tomorrow so be sure to check it out.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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A change of attitude

 

Morning all,
 
Well these happy Mondays just keep on coming don’t they…
 
I’m still feeling the joy spread by Saturdays performance and result, it may have been the eighth victory from the last nine games but there is something special about smacking five past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge isn’t there. We’re so often told that we’re nowhere near the level of teams like Chelsea and whilst I’m not going to use one game and one result as apparent proof that we are I’ve found it interesting, not to mention enjoyable, to see the amount of TV shows, newspaper columns etc that have skirted above our performance and quickly turned to suggesting that this is a Chelsea side in crisis.
 
Do these so-called “experts” not worry that it’s becoming abundantly clear that every time a team they deem to be a ‘Big Club’ looses a game or two they revert to the default line of ‘Club in crisis’ or ‘Manager under pressure’. Surely they have the capacity to be a little more insightful than that or a I being naïve? Anyway I don’t want to give the impression that I am defending Chelsea so enough of that.
 
Whilst we’re on such a good run and on a high from Saturday it’s quite good that our two games before the next international break are right on top of us, Marseille tomorrow night & West Brom on Saturday. That those fixtures are at home could also be a blessing and keep this run going, I know we won in France a few weeks ago and tasted a first away league victory on Saturday but it’s at home that we’ve been strongest so far this season and just as a way of keeping momentum going two home fixtures can’t be a bad thing.
 
Winning is a habit and at the moment this side has got a real taste for it and I don’t see why that shouldn’t continue this week. I’ve also been having a think about how this Arsenal side might respond to defeat. We know that teams of the last couple of years have often struggled to get back to winning ways after being beaten and that for Arsene’s talk of mental strength we’ve seen a mental weakness in that department but I just wonder if this side might actually have a bit more about them and have the capacity to put a poor result behind them and move on quickly.
 
I’ve got minimal evidence to support this theory but it is far from inadmissible…
 
Exhibit A – In the wake of Old Trafford.
 
Ok so we saw a few new signings coming in between the trouncing by United and the victory against Swansea but it’s not like these players had much time to really impact on the psyche of the side. I’ll also admit that we didn’t really beat the Welsh side convincingly but in recent seasons we may not have held our lead, in fact it’s not unknown for a newly promoted side to come to the grove and beat us. We also went to Germany and were extremely unlucky not to bring home three Champions League points after Ivan Perisic’s late wonder strike.
 
Exhibit B – After Ewood Park.
 
The shambles that was the 4-3 defeat at the hands of a shockingly poor Blackburn Rovers team still gives me more nightmares than the drubbing in Manchester. We caused our own capitulation that afternoon and gifted Rovers the win, we can point to two own goals being bad luck but in all honesty we know that would be a pretty poor excuse. The victory against Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup three days later may not look like much of an achievement on paper but it came at a time when the team, manager and club were under considerable pressure. That pressure was still apparent after the game when the press tried to lambast us for having such a reduced attendance for the game against league two opposition. The reaction to those petty, and inaccurate, reports from the fans and the magnificent PR from the club really kept the spirit and momentum up and played a part in the 3-0 win over Bolton on the following Saturday which was closely followed by victory in Greece against Olympiacos.
 
Exhibit C – The NLD.
 
Back to being the loosing team at White Heart Lane and with two weeks to dwell on it during the last international break it would have been easy for heads to drop. So many of our players were away with their national teams but maybe that was something of a blessing in disguise because when they returned they only had a few days to prepare for the game against Sunderland and whilst the win over the Mackems was far from pretty it was certainly hard fought and was perhaps the axis for the run we have been on since. We went away to France and won, beat Stoke 3-1 and defeated Bolton again, this time the victory came in the league cup and put us into the quarter finals for the ninth consecutive year.
 
Exhibit D – Stamford Bridge.
 
We went 1-0 down early on, we went 2-1 down on the stroke of half time. We were pegged back to 3-3 with just ten minutes to go yet still the team kept going, never gave in and finished the game as the winning side.
 
Sure we can look at a couple of those defeats and say they should never have happened but there is little we can do about that now except push on and not let the adversity drag us down like it so often has.
 
The truth is that unless this side can somehow go on an incredible run and avoid defeat for the remainder of the season we will be beaten again. We will need to get back up again. I’m not looking forward to it happening and I’m worried that we might not respond so well the next time it does but we have to be buoyed by this sides persistence and, if Saturday is now a benchmark, never say die attitude. Plus dare we say it… The teams mental strength?
 
Arsene holds his press conference ahead of tomorrow nights game later his afternoon and I think we can expect to see changes to the side – we’ll have a look at that tomorrow but I’ll keep you as updated as I am via Twitter until then.
 
Thanks for reading and enjoy another happy Monday.
 
Paul.

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

Rambo Strikes Late

A late winner away from home, three points and climbing to the top of our group – what more could we have asked for last night?

The match itself, whilst not a total doozy, wasn’t a shining example of European football at it’s best so I’m not going to try to force anyone to re-live it through written word. Instead lets focus on the Television coverage and a few of our players…

Saving the savage ‘slagging-off’ for last lets start with the players –

Aaron Ramsey – The young Welshman has come in for a little criticism of late which I think has been harsh, but not totally without merit. At no point has Rambo lifted up Andrey Arshavin’s blanket and asked ‘Can I hide under here with you?‘. The Welsh skipper keeps going and gives his all in every game he plays for club and country. I know I keep saying it but with the Spaniard gone and Jack out injured  a lot is being asked of Ramsey this season. I was thrilled that he got the winner right at the death after coming on in place of Andrey Arshavin in the 78th minute (The Russian had given another outstanding impression of the invisible character portrayed by Kevin Bacon in the film Hollow Man) Given that the chance came so late on Ramsey showed great composure to put the ball past Steve Mandanda and win the game, had the chance fallen to someone else we may have been cursing at the final whistle rather than celebrating. That brings me on nicely to…

Theo Walcott – It’s not happening is it? At times it happens, but then for the majority of the time it fails to happen and we all forget those rare occasions when it does happen. There were few clear-cut openings in front of the L’OM goal aside from the one that produced the winner, but the best of the rest fell to Theo and he chocked. For someone who repeatedly states a desire to be played down the middle he really doesn’t do his chances of being picked to play there much good when he wastes the kind of opportunities like last nights or  the one against Bolton last month. I saw some people were asking yesterday why there was so much surprise around AOC’s omission form the 18 man squad, well in my view it’s because the Ox should be there putting pressure on Theo because no one else is. I suggested in yesterday’s post that he should have been replaced by Gervinho and may have been more effective coming from the bench late on but it seems the Arsene still won’t listen to me. At the moment it’s almost taken for granted that Walcott will start out on the right, I’m not sure how much of a fight he is having to put up in order to keep his place – seemingly none. I think the biggest problem is he either has it in him and shows that on a regular basis or the times when he has looked mustard will just start to look like a fluke. It’s all a little similar to Ashavin really and at a time when we’re maybe lacking a bit of creativity from midfield and we’re failing to provide sufficient support for Van Persie up front we can hardly afford to carry one player let alone two.  But it’s not impossible for a player to take the bull by the horns and show a marked improvement, look at…

Carl Jankinson – I was delighted by Jenk’s performance at right back last night. There were suggestions prior to the game that the youngster should be dropped to the bench and a centre half take his place on the right but you’ve got to play players in their best positions and not only that but you could clearly see that after completing the game against Sunderland on Sunday, and admirably so, Jenkinson grew in strength as the game went on last night and it was a real disappointment to see him leave the field with a knee injury in the 62nd minute. We’ll wait to see what the reports are on the extent of that injury today but I really do hope he’ll be fit to face Stoke on Sunday, the more he plays the better he’ll become. He is improving as a defender but you’ve also got to applaud his crossing, we saw it out in Asia in pre season and he delivered again in that department last night – as Arse2Mouse Tweeted last night why not see if he can be as prolific with his delivery from corners? Fair play to Johan Djourou also, he did well when he came on in place of Jenks. If the former Charlton lad is out of this weekends clash with SCRFC then the Swiss would be my choice to deputise because frankly…

Laurent Koscielny is far too good a centre half to be fannying about as a makeshift right back. The Frenchman was absolutely outstanding last night, our best player by a country mile and certainly the Man of the Match. Again he is a player who has come in for criticism at times and again I’ve considered that criticism to be harsh and in the main totally unfounded. The £10m we paid Lorient in 2010 looks an absolute bargain, especially when you consider that from before we signed him and up until this summer we were being urged by many to spend £15m and upwards on Jagielka or Cahill. I know which player I would rather have and as I said in a post a while back, I believe that Kozzer and Vermaelen can forge an outstanding partnership at the heart of our defence. Last night was Koscielny’s 54th game for the Gunners and in truth not even Arsene could have envisioned that a guy who just three seasons ago was playing in the French second division would have clocked up so many Arsenal appearances in such a short time. He has formed a solid partnership with Per Mertesacker, who was also on fine form again last night, and it will be harsh on the big German if he is relegated to the bench once Vermaelen returns but it would be even harsher on Koscielny. The level of performance he produced last night should come as no surprise to anyone, yes he is prone to the odd mistake but which player isn’t? It reminds me a bit of Martin Keown, rightly regarded as an Arsenal legend now it took a while for the defender to be given the plaudits he deserved upon his return to Highbury.

I’m not going to go into so much detail with every player, I thought they all performed well last night so I’ll just say briefly that…

Mickey Arteta put in another dogged shift in midfield, I know he has always had that in his locker but you have to give credit to him, he may have thought, as many did, that he was going to shoulder the creative burden this season but he is yet to be afforded much of an opportunity for that in the short time he has been at the club but has dug in and performed the task assigned to him as well as you could ask. Tommy Rosicky continued his renaissance, it’ll be interesting to see where he starts Sundays game and despite the early and needless booking Alex Song had another good game in the heart of our midfield. RVP gave his usual committed skippers performance but in truth didn’t get much support up front, Szszesny was rarely called into action but was ready and alert when he was and lastly Andy Santos blew hot and cold in my opinion. The Brazilian in him comes out during those surging sorties into the opposition half but as a defender he has yet to float my boat and at this moment in time Kieran Gibbs, when fit obviously, would be my choice for that birth.

So in summary we got what you want from a Champions League away game – three points. The bonus is another clean sheet, topping the group (for now) and keeping our good run going. Despite our flaws five wins out of six is good going by any standards and if we can take advantage of our extra days rest and put Stoke to the sword on Sunday then things will continue to look brighter.

So finally I’ll say a quick word about ITV’s coverage last night – Shocking.

Actually that is maybe a little unfair, it’s the hosting, the punditry and the commentary that are shocking.

About thirty seconds in Martin O’Neill took the opportunity to reaffirm the fact he doesn’t like Arsene Wenger. Clive Tyldesley told us it was the first time Wenger had managed an Arsenal side on native soil since 2002 thus clearly neglecting the 2006 Champions League final, which he no doubt commented on, was held in Paris before Adrian Chiles rounded things off by suggesting that after a last gasp one nil win Arsenal fans will start to think our team is better than it is…

Great stuff ITV Sport you have once again proved to the nation why you are the television equivalent of John Terry…

Thanks for reading.

 Paul.

Radio Wenger

Good morning Gooners.

There seems to be one real point of interest to discuss this morning – Arsene Wenger’s interview on French radio station RTL
 
During the summer and at the start of this season it has seemed that the relationship between the Frenchman and the English media was not quite as cordial as it has been during the past fifteen years. The men from the press have always reiterated how the man they once dubbed ‘Arsene Who?’ is always willing to talk and to answer any question, but the suggestion in recent months has been that that level of open communication was no longer being provided and that Wenger was keeping a much tighter hold on his multilingual tongue.
 
So whilst relations have seemingly improved recently, apparently the gaffer was very open and chatty in his pre game presser last week – even cracking jokes, maybe it isn’t a surprise that Arsene has seen fit to provide his most frank interview and to open up on the issues that have surrounded the club since the close season whilst in the company of his native media and in this case former French international Bixente Lizarazu.
 
The boss admitted that a summer which saw the departures of key players Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy plus Emmanuel Eboue and the loan departures of Nik Bendtner, Denilson & Carlos Vela was the most difficult of his time in charge of the club admitting –
 
“This summer was the most agitated I’ve ever known. I had half the players in the dressing room who wanted to leave”
 
“You prepare a season, we go to Asia, we don’t know who is coming, the players who are still there are asking themselves what is happening and if an earthquake is hitting the club. It’s extraordinarily difficult”
 
“I think that what saved us is that we are a club which is extremely solid and united. There are many other clubs who would have exploded”
 
I certainly appreciate what he is saying but the truth is he was pretty much in a minority of one who believed that one of, or indeed both, Fabregas & Nasri would stay. It was also the common view of most of us that the likes of Eboue and our loan departures should be off loaded, so whilst I’m sure it was difficult it certainly shouldn’t have been surprising.
 
Asked if players had left to win titles in the face of Arsenal’s continued inability to add to the three league championships and four FA Cups won during his reign the manager took a swipe at the abhorrent spending power of the likes of Man City and the reasons players such as Samir Nasri move to the United Stadium telling Lizarazu –
 
“No, it’s not that [players have to leave to win titles], the problem isn’t that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don’t go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal”
 
That comment immediately brings to mind Clichy’s comments in 2009 after Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure had moved to Eastlands –
 
“I really believe if you are a player who thinks only about money then you could end up at Manchester City. You have to think if you want to play for a big club and have your image or if you want to play for a good club and earn big money”
 
Obviously the French left back had a change of heart over the summer when he joined Roberto Mancini’s side in a £7m deal.
 
Pressed on the Manchester clubs spending power the boss added –
 
“They are a force clearly, because they have exceptional financial clout, so it’s not surprising what they’ve done. Look at Paris Saint-Germain. They have more money than anyone else in France and they’re top of the league. There’s always a financial logic behind who ends up being successful in any league. If Barcelona or Real Madrid paid three times less than Malaga, players would go to Malaga. That’s always the case. It’s as simple as that. So when a player has the choice between two clubs who have the same ambitions, if he can earn three times as much at one club, he’ll go there. That’s logical”
 
What can you really add to that? We are not going to match the spending power of clubs like City, regardless of funds being available or not it just isn’t a path our club are willing to go down, especially the manager. In reality while we may wish we would part with £20m, £40m, £50M without thought and pay players the kind of wage each week that could sustain the economy of Greece, it just isn’t good for the game and ultimately wouldn’t be good for the club. It'[s more a case of those with cash on tap being reigned in then the rest of us trying to keep up, that’s difficult to swallow because who the hell stops them UEFA? If every club starts paying that game then the ante is constantly upped and we’ll soon see clubs begin to go bust – I don’t want that for Arsenal.
 
Speaking of the clubs poor start to the current season the boss admitted that things have been difficult but that his side are getting back on track –
 
What people forget is that we lost three key players because we’ve also lost Wilshere (to long-term injury). Three who were important in our midfield. Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere have all been lost and they were the basis of our midfield last season. We’ve had to reconstruct our midfield entirely because Wilshere won’t be back until January. Still, we’ve disappointed this season so far, given what’s expected of us, but I think we’re on the up again. The problem is you can only climb the table slowly. We’re not too far away in terms of points from fourth place (3 points)”
 
Again, we could have been or even should have been better prepared for the departures of Cesc & Nasri and there are indeed suggestions that we were and whilst Wenger is right when he said in the interview that you don’t find the likes of Fabregas and Nasri on every street corner the signing of players of the calibre of Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla would certainly have softened the blow and kept the side in good health. Deals were seemingly in place for the pair but we delayed and they moved elsewhere leaving us tying up deals right at the close of the transfer window.
Talking about our late purchases and summer spending in general Wenger suggested he was happy with what was done and spoke of how hard he and the club were working –
 
It was a crazy close season because I signed four players in three days. t was a whole night of negotiations and a lot of uncertainty but in the end it worked well.  believe it was a very good summer in terms of signings”
I’m not suggesting he doesn’t believe that but what else can he say? “It was all a bit of a mess and I’ve had to bring in a few players better suited to a less footballalistic side. Do you think I want to see Benayoun’s face every day, c’mon give me some credit”
 
I think we all know that the club could have acted quicker and more decisively during the summer but what can we do about that now. Ultimately it appears that it was Arsene’s reluctance to accept the inevitable departures of certain players which may have held us back a little but I’m sure that all the new signings were players he felt could improve the side.
 
The gaffer once again reiterated his belief that Robin Van Persie will sign a new deal and stay with the Gunners –
 
“Today, two days before we play at Marseille, I’m not asking myself whether Van Persie is going to extend his contract in 18 months’ time. For me what is important is that he plays well for us on Wednesday. After that the next match. That’s how I think. He’s scored 28 goals in 34 games, so they’re exceptional statistics. He’s got a contract for another 18 months and he’s a man who is attached to our club. I’m not especially thinking about losing him”
 
There does seem to be renewed belief that the Dutchman will extend his deal at the Emirates but until pen is put to paper speculation is going to continue and whilst the players scoring form continues he’ll be in the thoughts of every major club. Not that ‘m suggesting it would be good for us if he stopped scoring so the moneyed vultures move on, goodness knows where we would be with Robins goals. I’m almost at the point of praying that his fitness and luck in front of goal long continue. After all the seasons that have been interrupted by injury both the player and the club deserve a (god I was going to say break..) bit of good fortune.
 
Lastly Wenger spoke of the toll the job takes on him and how he’ll justify his time on earth when the big man comes calling for him (I mean god by the way not Mertz) –
 
“I have periods where I am tired, yes. It’s true that the close season makes people think you’re resting but it’s during that period that you work the most. I got in the habit of working all the time. I think I must have been lazy in a previous life and was punished to come back in a very tiring and stressful job”
 
“I’d like to go to Tahiti for a month but I can’t. From time to time I would like to because I’m running out of time. Everyone gets older. en I arrive at the gates of Heaven the Good Lord will ask ‘what did you do in your life?’ and I will respond ‘I tried to win football matches’ He will say ‘Are you certain that’s all?’ But, well, that’s the story of my life”
 
Let’s hope he isn’t dwelling too much on that discussion up in the big press room in the sky and more on winning another football match starting with the match against Marseille tomorrow night…
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Paul.
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