Newcastle United Preview: Are We All Singing The Same Toon?
The return of Premier League action this afternoon, Arsenal travelling to St James Park for the opening encounter. Ordinarily this would be a time of great hopes, expectations raised, batteries and belief recharged. Summer 2011 tried to quell the ardour for a new season, it still tries but more on that heroic failure later.
The match is the ideal start to the season. Newcastle was the scene of a crime almost as big as the defeat at Wembley. I still shudder at the thought of a four goal lead being surrendered in twenty second half minutes. With hindsight, it is easily identifiable as the day the title challenge died. Fitting that one could begin again with a win.
Yet this has somehow become the distraction, not the main course which is madness. The transfer window is still open and to those in the press, that is more interesting that matters on the pitch. Which is just wrong. Not that Arsenal, or Arsène, help Mata‘s or themselves.
What you make of yesterday’s press conference depends on your viewpoint. It was utterly bizarre in places, not quite Sardines and trawlers territory but seemingly not that far away. The manager’s denial that Cesc and / or Nasri might leave this summer was a volte face of surprising proportions, especially given previous admissions that it was on the cards. And almost immediately, he contradicted himself by arguing that they might.
As a ploy designed to end a conversational topic, it failed miserably particularly as the English media are more inclined to believe their Spanish counterparts than Arsenal FC. And their Spanish counterparts tell us that Cesc will be unveiled on Monday. I am sure they told us that last summer as well but maybe my memory is playing tricks.
If Fabregas goes, I will be sad to lose a great player but we have been here before as the manager noted,
I will decide what is best for the club. We have enough quality to deal with any situation. We are all replaceable. All the centuries are full of replaceable people
As for Nasri, as gifted as he is, he will always been remembered as Fabregas’ Graham Rix, never able to achieve the levels of consistency of his peer and not quite as talented. Wenger has options at the club, albeit less experienced and when experience was required last season, it turned out to be over-rated. Those who should have led by example did quite the opposite as winter turned to spring.
Wenger will reportedly have a war chest of £58m which he has been told to spend. Or told is his to spend if he wants is actually the quote. Eighteen days remain in which to strike a deal, not replacing Cesc will be a fundamental error, one that I do not think he will make. Replacing is probably the wrong word, we need to become a team less reliant on one individual.
The past six years have seen Thierry Henry and Cesc carry the team on occasion, too much so in some circumstances. There is enough talent available for others to share this burden and allow the manager to use the funds to strengthen the squad overall.
So to this afternoon. The injury news was encouraging with Jack Wilshere the major absence. OK, Abou Diaby is missing but that is normally the case at varying points in a season so we can just take that as read he won’t be around for a while.
It leaves Wenger with some tantalising choices, key will be who takes the central role supporting the attack. Two immediate candidates spring to mind, Rosicky and Arshavin. Both are infuriatingly inconsistent but Arshavin last season was able to prompt and supply impressively. For that reason, I would put him as the midfield spearhead.
Wenger though has to decide if Theo Walcott is truly fit. If he is not then both Rosicky and Arshavin will start, Gervinho on the right flank with the Russian notionally on the opposite wing. The two interchanged well in recent friendlies which gives the manager significant options.
In defence, Laurent Koscielny would be the preferred partner for Thomas Vermaelen. As much as I rate Djourou, the Frenchman looks to have improved over the summer. To be honest, either of the younger players ought to be able to cope with Ba and Ameobi. Calm heads will be needed with Joey Barton revelling in last season’s success in winding Diaby up, a new target will be sought to quell the technical advantage Arsenal hold by a reduction in playing numbers.
The line-up I would expect is:
Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Ramsey, Song, Rosicky; Gervinho, van Persie, Walcott
It is easy to overlook RvPs importance. He is still on a Premier League roll, looking to score in his tenth consecutive away game. Keeping the Dutchman fit is imperative, the cancellation of this week’s friendly working in Arsenal’s favour for once.
Since winning at Elland Road in the FA Cup, Arsenal have won once on their travels. It would be nice to put that record right and silence some of the criticism this evening. Arsène wanted the supporters to appreciate the team and not pander to the media agenda. Differences of opinion need to be put to one side and the team supported, for ninety minutes.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on August 13, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 532 Comments.