Hello, hello. A very good afternoon to you all.
With the Arsenal Annual General Meeting taking place yesterday and an important league game at Upton Park on Sunday night, there’s plenty of things to talk about both off and on the pitch. As my focus on this blog is usually to do with first-team matters I’ll focus mostly on the on-field matters before touching briefly on things going on behind the scenes.
First up is some team news for the West Ham game. According to the manager Eduardo “should” be back in the squad for Sunday with Tomas Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner both a 50:50 chance. Samir Nasri, who played an hour against Wolves, is likely to be a game short with the manager hinting he will be playing in the Carling Cup against Liverpool on Tuesday, while Theo Walcott will also be out along with long-termers Johan Djourou and Denilson.
The big talking point going into the game remains the goalkeeping situation. With Vito Mannone the manager’s flavour of the month, Manuel Almunia waiting prepped on the sidelines and Lukasz Fabianski back in contention, Arsene Wenger has three goalkeepers to choose between for Sunday’s game.
My personal hope is that Wenger brings back Almunia against West Ham. While I agree with the manager’s decision to drop the Spaniard after some unfocused early season displays and his replacement Mannone has put in some good performances – most notably in his debut game against Fulham – I believe the time is right for Almunia to return to the team.
I do admit that Mannone’s temperament has been outstanding throughout his tenure in goals despite a couple of minor errors, but with two heated London derbies up next we need to have our most experienced and polished goalkeeper on the pitch. As admirably as he has performed, a fully fit, fully focused Almunia is a better goalkeeper at this stage of their respective careers and I think he should start on Sunday.
With Eduardo and perhaps Bendtner and Rosicky back in contention the manager may have room to rotate and experiment but I suspect – perhaps excluding the goalkeeper – it will be the same team that started at AZ Alkmaar that runs out against West Ham. With the Hammers in second last spot they’ll be desperate for points and at home with a talented squad at their disposal they will not be easy-beats, yet I fancy us to go to Upton Park on Sunday and get all three points. I mentioned the issue of complacency in yesterday’s post but after Tuesday night’s late kick in the ribs the boys should be focused and fired up for what is likely to be a very competitive London derby.
Onto off-field matters now and as I indicated earlier the AGM took place yesterday. What eventuated was apparently far less spectacular than last meeting’s “Arsene Wenger Hate-athon” with the man in question stating that he feels the club is moving in the right direction and expects his team to lift silverware this season. The ever-reliable Arseblog has all the details from the AGM but as I mentioned, it’s little more riveting than a game of county cricket.
Anyway I’d better leave it there. Have a lovely Friday wherever you are in the world and I’ll speak to you over the weekend.
Have your say on Arsenal v West Ham, the goalkeeper situation or the AGM by leaving a comment.