Injury Time Will Decide Who Starts On Saturday
Morning troops, international week is over and now we wait for any injuries – other than Jack Wilshere’s – to emerge before Saturday’s derby with Tottenham. Of the key personnel, the only ones who seemed to play an inordinately long time for their country were Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna.
It was hardly, in Nasri’s case, surprising given the way that he shamed England’s midfield with his range of passing. Had Karim Benzema not be selfish and wildly slashed at a shot in the first half instead of pulling the ball back, Nasri would surely have had the goal his performance merited.
Bacary Sagna meanwhile probably only had about 15 minutes of work to do such was the paucity of England’s attacking forays, proof that the recent wins with good performances were flashes in the pan and that the norm is too see them revert to type was international dullards.
Elsewhere, RvP managed forty-five minutes for the Dutch which we now wait for any reaction from his injury to. He observed on Dutch TV that the half would be beneficial to Arsenal but I would be stunned if it did any more than confirm his place on the bench. Marouane Chamakh proved Eric Gerets’ pre-match assessment that coming to Arsenal had been good for the player with a goal. He also proved that the new ‘hardness’ much lauded in the press following Sunday’s win at Everton is a mental state by getting booked before his substitution.
Sebastien Squillaci has observed that being a ‘relative unknown’ has helped him settle at Arsenal. The centre back noted,
Yes, I think it helped [that I was a relative unknown]. I knew a lot of the players and there are a lot of Frenchmen here, which always makes it easier to adapt. There are players here who I have played with for France and also against in the French league and that makes coming here not so hard. It’s always better coming to a club where you know the players, it helps you if there are any problems and also helps on and off the pitch too.
Adapting-wise, I knew that it [English football] would be physical with some good sides, playing good football. The strikers are big and strong and it is a great contrast with Spain where the strikers are faster and not so strong. But it’s not going too badly. I’m stepping up to the challenge and it’s getting easier.
It also probably helped that he was not a central part of Domenech’s final debacle in the summer, curtailing any criticism before he had even donned the red and white.
This weekend may well see him partner Laurent Koscielny once more despite Johan Djourou’s recent good performances. Koscielny’s ban is now served and Wenger has not hesitated to restore him to the starting line-up. Much depends though on whom Wenger believes Tottenham will start with. If he is inclined to believe they will favour Crouch, then he should go with Djourou. Whilst Koscielny is good enough in the air, I believe Djourou is better.
There is again the argument that changing the starting line-up is unnecessary tinkering. The past two away games have brought victory; Wolves was not as convincing as it could have been but nonetheless, Djourou was impressive that night, continuing that form into the Everton match. We shall see as no doubt there will an injury or two to throw a well-aimed spanner into the works.