The big news in the build-up to the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Tottenham is that Robin van Persie will be fit and available.
The Dutch striker – who most supporters would consider to be the number one striker at the club – has been named in the squad to face Tottenham by Arsene Wenger after finally overcoming his long-term knee injury. The Arsenal manager revealed Van Persie will be welcomed back into the squad along with a host of other players who did not feature in the weekend FA Cup win over Burnley.
“Yes Robin van Persie is back in the squad. Lukasz Fabianski will play in goal again, Theo Walcott is available while Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos will play at the back. Basically it will be a young side maybe with one or two experienced players.”
I spoke yesterday about how well the other three strikers at the club have done in van Persie’s absence but I think most people would agree that having the Dutchman back is a big boost to Arsenal’s chances of winning some silverware this season. If you read more of Wenger’s comments from the article you’ll notice he mentions the fact that van Persie has been out for so long not because of his knee but because of a muscle injury he sustained while recovering from the initial problem. What that means is that the Dutchman has had ample time to get fully fit and hopefully that’s the last Arsenal supporters will have to hear about his pesky knee. Fingers crossed.
The other interesting point to note about Wenger’s starting team is the presence of recently returned Johan Djourou. This match could be an important one in deciding whether he takes the second centre-back position ahead of fellow countryman Philippe Senderos in the absence of Kolo Toure who is, of course, on his way to Ghana as we speak. Senderos has been nothing short of shaky most times he’s played this season and if Djourou has a positive game, which I’m sure he’s more than capable of, then I think he’ll rightly move ahead in the defensive pecking order. Either way, it’s certainly a battle worth keeping your eyes on tonight.
Is Diarra stupid?
Lukasz Fabianski, who will play in goals tonight, has spoken of his excitement at playing in such a big game against Arsenal’s biggest rivals. Not only that, he’s spoken with teammate Manuel Almunia and has dreams of saving a penalty and growing a foot taller.
“He told me that if you save a penalty against Tottenham then you are the biggest man in the world.”
I’m not sure that’s entirely true but you get the point. It’s great to see that Almunia and Fabianski have a friendly relationship going on, especially considering old man Jens Lehmann has refused to speak with the Spaniard since being displaced as the number one goalkeeper. Hopefully the pair can keep their little friendship going and spur each other on to bigger and better things.
The only other news of the day is that Lassana Diarra is being monitored by both Newcastle and Lyon. Although he’s unhappy with a lack of first-team football at the moment I have a feeling that Diarra will remain an Arsenal player until at least the end of the season. He might be a bit of a hothead, Diarra, but I don’t think he would be stupid enough to believe his career is going to improve more as a starter under Sam Allardyce than as a fringe player under Arsene Wenger. And if he is stupid enough to go then maybe he’s not a player worth holding onto.
Oh and just for the record, I think it’s going to be a draw tonight. Don’t know why, but there you go.
What do you think?
Have your say on Tottenham, van Persie, Fabianski or Diarra by leaving a comment.