Starting straight away with Arsene Wenger denying outright the Gilberto-is-leaving talk quoted profusely in The Mirror. Many reports were speculating that Gilberto had ‘refused to play centre-back’, and wanted to leave the team. In response, Wenger had this to say:
“I deny that categorically, and I find this assessment disrespectful to a great professional like Gilberto. He is 100 per cent professional and is in the squad for tomorrow. He will play.“
Which adds a lot of certainty to the situation and also makes my pondering over tonight’s First XI a little easier. We’ve said it many times before: Gilberto will have an important part to play in this season. Midfielders get injured often, and he’s the first in line to walk into the centre of midfield. His professionalism and calm is well known to Arsenal fans, and he’ll have taken his absence from the team in his stride, surely. It will be good to see him starting tonight, and I’m sure that he’ll put in a more than decent performance against what should be inferior opposition.
Next in the news-review-line is the British Governmentt probing Alisher Usmanov’s buying of Arsenal shares. The government man in question is North Islington MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who has asked the secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to “release reports received from British embassies relating to Alisher Usmanov”. The reports have been filed as ‘personal details’ by the predictable Usmanov lawyers, so they have bought some time, in that regard. We’ll have to watch that one develop.
Michel Platini, an adminstrator who will only ever have popularity from the past and never in the present, has spoken out against Arsene Wenger’s policy of ‘poaching’ young players from clubs around the world. Platini says:
“I do not like the system of Arsène Wenger… If my son is playing at Millwall and at 16 Manchester [United] come in for this player, then when will Millwall have a good team?“
At first, it does get you thinking about how it’s so wrong of us to poach all these players that would make these smaller, poorer clubs a little better and improve the game on the whole. The fairies and garden gnomes all hop away, however, when you consider a number of conditions:
- The players that Arsene chooses are still raw, and a lot do not make it at Arsenal but do go on to have decent careers at other clubs. You cannot tell me, however, that they would have become better players at a smaller club under mystically better tutelage. Wenger and his coaches are the ones that nurture the players into proper footballers – it is down to the clubs to implement the new coaching techniques he’s brought in if they’re too be successful in this regard. Even Liverpool and Man Utd are trailing in our wake in that department, and will be several years before they even catch up.
- A lot of players we’ve picked up are from the likes of ASEC Mimosas (Toure), Beveren (Eboue), Etoile Carouge (Djourou), Barcelona (Fabregas and Merida – see just how much I weep for that club), Feyenoord (van Persie, and Barazite if Im not mistaken). An academy from Cote d’Ivoire, a Belgian club, an obscure Swiss club, and two major clubs from Spain and Holland. No one’s exactly upset about this, are they? I wouldn’t believe for a second that Walcott would become anything near a premiership player under Southampton’s coaching – how would they get promoted with just him? He (and Gareth Bale) were inevitably going to be moved on.
- The final point is that teams like Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid (and I’d gladly insult the first and last of those clubs by throwing Chelsea in alongside them), through inflating the markets for years, have meant that smaller clubs have had no choice but to give up their younger stars for financial gain. Arsenal have Walcott on their books, and he alone – he’s already been covered in the previous point.
Onto a Frenchman we all, amazingly enough, like more. William Gallas has spoken about how there are ‘no egos‘ in the side, and hence, no talks about doing an invincible-run ala 2004. The interviews dont really reveal anything new – this blurb here sums it all up, really:
“We just want to win every match, but for us it is more important to win something this year. If we can beat that record, then why not? But it is not what we are thinking about. Only winning trophies can give you the satisfaction.“
In the other bits and bobs: Fran Merida has spoken about his ‘three minutes’ of Arsenal time and the fine he recieved from Barcalona; Justin Hoyte is contemplating a loan move away from Arsenal; Almunia is treating the Man Utd game just like any other; and we’ve been linked to a Real Madrid youngster in the form of Pablo Sarabia. Fascinating stuff!
To the Sheffield Utd game, then, and we should be seeing a similar side to the one that beat Newcastle in the Third round of the Carling Cup. Team I’d imagine coming out at Bramhall Lane is as follows:
This team, to its potential, should see an adequate performance to beat Sheffield United, even away from home. I will say, however, that it would not be altogether surprising to see the team bow out to a team like Sheffield – the run’s been very good over the last couple of seasons, so lets not try and jinx it via over-confidence.
So superstitious. Come on the lads, and a report to follow tomorrow morning. Au’voir!