I’ll kick things off today by saying that I really feel for Alexander Hleb every time he gets injured.
Not because he misses out on games, not because he’s probably in severe pain, but because every single time he does, every website on the planet digs up that awful picture of him getting taken out against West Ham. You know the one; eyes closed, face contorted in pain and his hair looking distinctly mullet-esque to boot. It’s just awful Alex, and I really do feel sorry for you.
The reason for the photo’s re-emergence is that Arsene Wenger has confirmed Hleb’s absence from Arsenal’s trip to Newcastle United this week. Wenger’s side play Newcastle on Wednesday night and the Arsenal manager revealed that Hleb will miss out, somewhat surprisingly because of a recurrence of his hamstring injury rather than the gash to the achilles that he sustained from John Carew’s woeful tackle at Villa Park on Saturday.
“He had a hamstring problem before but we decided to play him. He had a little recurrence and I am not sure he will be available for Newcastle on Wednesday night.”
Hleb looked very sharp for Arsenal against Aston Villa and will certainly be missed. The other major absentees for the trip to Newcastle are Cesc Fabregas, who is still recovering from a minor hamstring problem, and Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby, who are still a little while away from returning from respective knee and back injuries. The squad will certainly be a little thin and without the presence of Hleb and Fabregas in the side I think Wenger would be mad to go with anything other than a four-man midfield with two out-and-out strikers. Hleb, who played in behind Emmanuel Adebayor against Villa, should be replaced by either Theo Walcott or Eduardo da Silva and with the latter not even making the squad on Saturday I would say it’s likely that the Englishman will start.
There should really only be one change from the side that won on the weekend and with that in mind, I would expect Arsenal to pick up another three points against an out-of-sorts Newcastle side on Wednesday night. I’ll talk a little bit more about the game in tomorrow’s blog, but unless there are some training ground injuries (knock on wood) there really shouldn’t be much more to add.
The meaning of ‘Katita’ revealed?
Perhaps the most interesting news of late is that Wolfsburg manager Felix Magath has his eyes on Jens Lehmann and will most likely make a move for the German goalkeeper when the January transfer window opens. He’s a top manager, Magath, and he’s smart enough to know that Lehmann is still a top goalkeeper despite his often unnacceptable attitude.
Yogi’s Warrior from ‘A Cultured Left Foot’ made the point yesterday that Wenger could do worse than keep Lehmann as he is probably the best ‘number two’ in England right now. It’s a fair point, but at the end of the day this Arsenal team is all about unity and togetherness and Lehmann has shown time and time again this season that he doesn’t seem to care one bit about that. As a result, I think he should move on in January and if Wenger does end up pursuing that option he’ll be happy to know that there is at least one club out there who do want him.
A couple of little titbits to finish of with today. Firstly, Emirates Stadium will be hosting its first rock concert in May next year and the man taking the stadium’s virginity is Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. Not a band I’d particularly want to see but interesting nonetheless. Secondly, it seems the Mathieu Flamini ‘Katita’ mystery has been solved and the answer is little more bizarre than first predicted. According to one of the comments on Third Gen, back when Wenger was coaching Grampus Eight in Japan he was nicknamed ‘Amitase Katita’ which translates to ‘honorable fighter’. Obviously, Flamini wanted to get the message out to his manager and the fans to tell them what he’s all about.
So to all of those people (alas, I was one of them) picturing a seductive and shapely European women, you can now replace that image with a grey-haired, bird-faced elderly French man. Somehow it’s not too bad though, is it?
What do you think?
Have your say on Hleb, Lehmann, Springsteen or Flamini by leaving a comment.