It’s Friday and there is A LOT to go through today. So sit tight, grab a drink – or some breakfast, preferably Froot Loops – and enjoy yourselves. Those eating Froot Loops will particularly enjoy themselves, I feel.
Anyway, first up are some comments about Theo Walcott from, of all people, Sir Alex Ferguso. The Manchester United manager was questioned about the impact that Walcott might have on the English game after his hat-trick against Croatia and his response was particularly intriguing. Observe:
“It’s the first time we have a young Englishman who, having scored a hat-trick against Croatia, will be faced with the same issues we faced with Ryan. Everyone will want a piece of him, agents will fall over themselves to get to the boy. What he requires is one strong manager and Arsenal will give him that, without question.”
The boy must also have the understanding that what is being done for him is for his own good. Ryan had the understanding and the intelligence to deal with that, he didn’t want the showbiz thing, he didn’t want to give interviews, he just wanted to be a footballer and these will be important issues for Walcott, because he’s got a talent.”
Much as I despise Old Red Nose and the football club he manages, he is someone that I have a lot of admiration for and what he is saying is absolutely right. I do find it funny, however, that he speaks about Walcott having the have the intelligence to deal with shunning ‘the showbiz thing’ when he has a player as despicable as Wayne Rooney in his ranks. The fact that Rooney has become a success despite his ridiculous prostitute shenaningans suggests that if Theo can fly straight then it should be even easier.
I do like the point Ferguson makes about Arsenal – and Arsene Wenger in particular – being strong enough to keep his head screwed on straight. Indeed, comments made by Wenger following the Kyiv match illustrate just the sort of protection that he will provide. In the manager’s words:
”The referee should have sent off the left-back three times at least during the game because he destroyed Walcott.”
Now I don’t think for a minute that the defender should have been sent off three times, not at all. But it doesn’t take a genius to work out what Wenger is trying to do here. He’s simply trying to draw the media’s attention to the treatment that Walcott received in the hope of giving him more protection going forward. It’s a very clever comment and, like Ferguson indicated, exactly the sort of thing that a strong manager like Wenger will do for his player. Long may it continue because, like Ferguson, I believe Walcott has the potential to be a truly great player.
Just sticking with the Kyiv game for a moment and there was some interesting discussion about the comments I made about William Gallas and Kolo Toure in yesterday’s post. There were a lot of contrasting opinions of Gallas in particular, some readers saying that he is incredibly important to the side and others suggesting that he is the weakest link at the back. Indeed, even Emmanuel Adebayor has got in on the debate, making these comments about the Arsenal captain:
“He is one of the oldest players in the side and he brings a lot of experience. We all listen to him and we all do whatever he says. He has won a lot of things in his career and he is sharing this with the young players in the squad.”
I tend to agree with Adebayor on this one. For me Gallas has been one of the most important performers in the opening month of the season and very much deserves his spot in the starting side. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not convinced that the Gallas-Toure partnership is working as well as the Gallas-Johan Djourou one that was being played early on in the season and I would like to see Wenger revert back to that pairing against Bolton. Again, as I said yesterday, I have nothing against Toure personally I just feel he’s not playing at his best right now and Gallas’ contribution so far this season has been strong, both defensively and going forward.
Moving onto the Bolton game now and Arsene Wenger has confirmed that nobody in the squad that travelled to the Ukraine has pulled up short (hooray!) and also that none of the injured players have recovered for the weekend’s game (boo!). That means no Samir Nasri, no Mikael Silvestre and no Abou Diaby, amongst others. The manager has also hinted that he will rotate the side for the match, citing the physical nature of the Champions League tie as his main concern. Observe:
“We have no injuries from last night and we have no-one coming back as well, so the group will be stable. There will be a little bit of rotation of course, because it was a very physical game and we had to give absolutely everything. But I cannot tell you yet how it will work.”
My tip would be Nicklas Bendtner to come in up front – perhaps at the expense of Adebayor – although it’s feasible that he might give Robin van Persie a rest instead. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Walcott rested as well, most likely for Emmanuel Eboue, and Wenger will have to choose between playing Alex Song or Denilson in the ‘defensive’ spot alongside Cesc Fabregas. Heck, he might even play the former pair and give Fabregas a rest. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Regardless of the team that starts on Saturday night, this is a game that Arsenal should win. Bolton have hardly set the Premiership alight this season, grabbing just four points from their opening four matches, despite a very kind set of fixtures. And with Chelsea and Liverpool setting a fierce pace at the top of the league the pressure will very much be on Arsenal to deliver the goods at the Reebok. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint.
I thought I’d finish off today on a bit of a warm-fuzzy note with an exerpt from a recent Robert Pires interview. The ex-Arsenal winger, who played for Villareal in their 0-0 draw against Manchester United midweek, was questioned by popular Spanish journalist Guillem Balague about his old club and came up with these excellent answers:
Guillem: Have you seen Arsenal play lately?
Pires: I watch their games all the time, never miss a match.
Guillem: Are they in transition?
Pires: I think they have moved up a level. I believe that this will be their year. The players are much stronger, they are a young side that has gained a lot of experience. I don’t know, I just have a very good feeling about Arsenal this year. I don’t know whether it will be the Premiership, or the Champions League, but I believe they will win at least one title this season.
What a guy. I mean seriously, ‘I watch their games all the time, never miss a match.’ I love you Robert Pires. From the bottom of my heart. I really, really do. I hope your side wins the Primera Liga this season and I hope you knock Manchester United out of the Champions League. I wouldn’t even mind if you scored against Arsenal to knock us out later on in the competition. After those comments, I’ll let you marry my future daughter if you want. Seriously.
Anyway, have a lovely weekend and enjoy the Bolton game wherever in the world you might be watching it. Hopefully we give those Trotters a good thumping and Tottenham lose to Wigan. Heh heh heh.
PS. Readers who enjoyed the brief lifespan of ‘The Gooner Gazette’ last season – The Arsenal FC Blog’s monthly online magazine – will be happy to know it is back on Monday. I’m going to need some help from people to keep it running throughout the season but in the meantime get ready to enjoy the new look ‘Gazette’ on Monday and I’ll speak more about it then. Cheers.
Have your say on Arsenal v Bolton, Kyiv, Theo or Bobby Pires by leaving a comment.