Thank R.Kelly it’s Friday. I’m certainly ready for the weekend I can tell you. A bit of booze, lie-ins and more importantly, The Arsenal.
I suspect Arsène and his charges will be making their way up to some West Midlands based hotel today at some stage, because he got his presser out of the way early yesterday, which is great news for a blogger like me looking for something Arsenal-related to talk about.
From a team perspective it looks like only Hector Bellerin is returning from the injured players, as was some of the rumours on Wednesday evening, confirmed by Arsène. I bet the only person cursing their luck on that one will be poor old Matthieu Debuchy. Joel Campbell is fourth or fifth choice in the right wing spot, yet he’ll have played more games in the last month than our second choice right back. I suppose it’s very ‘Arsenal’ to have a load of injuries in one position though…
Still, Joel will be happy and much to our surprise given Arsène’s words before the international break, he’ll be pleased to be getting another shot at staking a claim in the team. I do think his time might be running out though. He did well against Swansea and not a lot against Munich or the Spuds, so if he wants to keep his place for Zagreb I suspect he’ll need another decent performance at The Hawthorns. I wonder if The Ox is actually fit l, but Arsène is giving a little more recovery time than normal to be sure? If so, it wouldn’t surprise me if Joel therefore also gets a start in the game against the Croatians next Tuesday, then is taken off for a returning Oxlade-Chamberlain at some stage.
That means his time really is running short and with Ramsey getting close too, as well as Theo just ‘one or two weeks away’, you have to think that’s his lot unless he plays well and bags a few goals. Heck, if he does that it’ll be a-ok with me, because I don’t give a monkeys who scores for Arsenal as long as we do. And win games, obvs.
The other selection questions that will need to be answered by the manager surround the involvement of the French players. Arsène has said that he will talk to all of them after the game to find out what their mental state is, but Koscienly was singled out as the one who was most affected, so he is the biggest doubt I’d suspect.
I can totally appreciate that he might not feel mentally ready to play. His and Giroud’s situation is one that many will not have experienced. In effect, he was at the centre of an attempted bombing at the Stade De France, probably having his wife and kids watching somewhere in the stands. When he was crying to the French national anthem, a lot of those thoughts would have come flooding back to him, so you can understand Arsène when he says that it was not the same Koscienly that played against the Germans on that Friday.
So we all have to respect the decision made, but I hope he is OK to play, because against a tough and physical team like the Baggies you know we’ll be in for a rough afternoon. More on how Pulis will set up his side tomorrow, but the important thing from our perspective is that we can put out a team who can overcome such adversity as West Brom will provide, doing so with our best players on the pitch.
Arsène also spoke of the doping in football and after a he himself had spoken of seeing other players in other teams using performance enhancing drugs in Europe, he went on to talk about the challenge of providing urine samples instead of blood stamples, which is what he would like to see. I always find it interesting when you get little insights like that from the manager, as he spoke of having to wait around on a plane for a couple of hours for the samples to come back, as opposed to the instant results of a blood test. Aside from the fact that my fear of needles would effectively end any hope of a career as a professional footballer (at 33 it disappears away from me more and more each day!), it did make me think about preparation for games when you’re being held up waiting for doping samples to come back. If you can have your team back to a hotel two hours earlier than planned, you can talk game plans, make sure they are all in the best physical condition, plus give them extra time to recover the body from a plane journey. I know the players would be going to these places in the height of luxury, but even first class can take it out of you I believe, especially when you are in a profession when the extra 1-2% can make a difference in a game.
So I can understand why Arsène would want these changes implemented. It does rule me out personally for a late call up if he needs me though, so just something for Le Boss to think about.
Anyway, it’s Friday, we all want to get this working week done as quickly as possible, so I’ll take my leave and speak to you in the morrow.