Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Milan vs Arsenal Preview and early Team News

It’s been a while. Even for my standards it has been a while. All I can do is apologise to the 10,000 or so people who have checked the site in this barren spell only to have old news. I can make lots of excuses about the millions of things that have been going on in my life but to be honest none of it really matters. I am back, and for better or for worse, you are stuck with me as this time I am not going anywhere. Not until I decide to go AWOL again that is.

So without further ado lets do what Marvin Gaye sang about all those years ago, only without the sexual connotations: “Let’s get it on”.

In these past few weeks the club has had more highs and lows than a crack addict trying to get clean. We have been declared to be a club in crisis with calls for the firing of Wenger, (yet again) only to come back into the Champions League places. I will admit I was dreading what the remaining season had in store for us but somehow through a combination of gritty and superb performances on our part, a sprinkle of rolling back the years from a particular living legend and Chelsea and Liverpool being utter dog shit we have managed to get back into a position where our fate lies in our own hands.

Whilst the job is nowhere near done, you cant help but feel the excitement of Thierry Henry scoring in potentially his last ever Premier League match and in the circumstances he did, all of which resulted us to be back in with a shout of qualifying for the Champions League. Hopefully we can use this as the platform from which we springboard our season to ensure qualification. (First time I have said that this season ;))

Either way I suppose the focus at the moment is on our Champions League encounter with AC Milan and much of the build up has in fact surrounded the impending departure of the formerly mentioned living legend; Thierry Henry. It is, as you all know, his last game in an Arsenal shirt. I know there has been talk about a potential return next year but that is something I cannot see happening and if we are in a position where we need him next year then we have not learnt anything.

Either way it is unlikely he will start and to be honest I will take any away win but you can’t help but feel maybe it is written for Henry to make his mark one final time in one magnificent way. Who knows but either way I expect him to feature at some stage tomorrow.

We are a little early for team news but the injury news, whist steadily improving saw a major setback at the weekend. I know a lot of people have negative things to say about him but I for one think he has been a great signing and one that will be missed. There is a great argument for having Koscienly and Vermaelan as our centre back partnership but one can not underestimate the impact Mertesacker has had. He has completed 974/1092 passes at a success rate of 89% highlighting a sense of composure he brings to the team. He has had a couple of shaky moments but he is far better than backup defenders that we have had in a very long time.

Either way his ankle injury is set to keep him out for at least 6 weeks but I would venture a guess at slightly longer given that Santos suffered a similar injury but then I don’t know what the fuck I am talking about. This means that Kieran Gibbs is likely to slot back in at left back and Vermaelan back into his preferred position of centre back. It also means that we have a recognised back four all comfortable in their positions for the first time since October 19th 2011 against Marseille when Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscienly and Santos made up the back four. That is an incredible 24 games since we last played a back four all in their recognised positions. It is therefore a relief that Gibbs’ come back has coincided with Mertesacker’s injury as otherwise we would be threadbare once again.

Mertesacker's injury is going to be more long term from what I am hearing which is a big blow. However it is sounding as though Wilshire is nearing a return with better than expected results from his scan. I remain sceptical on that front and will not be expecting anything so as to not get disappointed!

The team I fully expect to line up tomorrow should look like this with:


Sagna                          Koscienly                                Vermaelan                   Gibbs

                                    Song                                        Arteta

Walcott                                                                                                           The OX

                                                            Van Persie

This is in many ways our best XI at the moment and in the long term is looking closer to where Wenger would like to see the team. With our current squad the only contested positions would really be left back with Santos and Gibbs, Wilshire coming in for one of the midfield trio and Gervinho potentially displacing one of the wide men. My point really is that it is now or never for this team. Despite the many injuries we still have we are in a position where we have a chance. We can hope that no more injuries are forthcoming but this is a team capable of winning the tie tomorrow. We are playing a team with some quality players but a team that I don’t think will be comfortable dealing with pace. They are missing a number of key players and whilst Pato, Nesta and Boetang may have returned to training, one would imagine that they aren’t quite ready to step into first team football straight away but you never know.

Well, that’ll have to do till tomorrow when we get some tangible news on the team. Until then Gooners.


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