The international break continues to crawl along at an excruciating rate, but with the news that Robert Pires is currently training with Arsene Wenger and Co in London, it’s now crawling along in a rather ducky manner.
Pires, part of The Invincibles and one of my all-time favourite players, is currently out of contract after leaving Villarreal and has followed the lead of guys like David Beckham and Sol Campbell in spending his spare time getting fit training with the Arsenal boys. While the likelihood of his little kick-about leading to a new contract with the club a-la Campbell is extremely low, judging from the pictures on the official website the boys very much enjoyed the company of the Arsenal legend.
It also dawned on me looking at the pictures just how tall Pires is. I often perceived him to be a relatively short guy – a product of his duck-like running style and complete lack of desire to ever head a football – but in the photos he positively towers over Carlos Vela and even gives Johan Djourou a run for his money.
One of the players not training with Pires this week, Jack Wilshere, has been talking about the loss to Chelsea and the impact it may have on our chances of winning the league.
“It’s still early days, we’re definitely still in it. I know we are seven points behind, but I think Chelsea will definitely drop points and we’ve just got to capitalise when they do. Hopefully there aren’t too many injuries [ahead for us] but if there are we’ve got a big squad and we can cope.”
“I don’t think that’s true [that Arsenal can’t beat Chelsea]. You saw we dominated the game for long periods but we just didn’t take our chances. A couple of games before that we scored six, so it was just one of those days. In football it’s what you do on the ball, but also make sure that when you haven’t got the ball that you defend well. Obviously Chelsea have got some good players and they showed that on the day.”
A lot has been said about Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea but I tend to think Wilshere has got things spot on here. Last year we pulled back 11 points on Chelsea at a later point in the season so at this stage, we are still well and truly in the running. But like he also says, if we are to win the big games that will allow us to pull back this early deficit we need to defend well without the ball.
Despite the pressure they were under Chelsea created too many clear opportunities too easily on the break and it is something that needs to be stamped out by our defence. Of course when you’re chasing a lead you are always more likely to be hit on the break, and Chelsea are one of the best teams out there at doing it, but a little more focus on defence could have served us well with the game poised at 1-0.
Just back on Wilshere for a moment, after playing 90 minutes for the England U21s against Romania he has the opportunity to get his first cap for the full national team this week. I wish him all the best if he gets on and hope it is the start of an illustrious international career for someone who is set to become a really fine player.
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