A quick preview before I hop off to sort lives out, clean up, and jump on an Arsenal bus to watch Arsenal telly. It’s telly, but with Arsenal…
News is mostly focused on Wenger’s ‘did he really say that?’ revelations of wanting to ‘give back to England’ by buying English players for Arsenal’s first team. Of course, in Wenger’s language, that means buying at a very young age and developing them over time, which makes perfect sense.
The hubbub comes about with the news that Arsenal have secured the signing of promising English forward Luke Freeman from Gillingham, for a fee of £100,000. The youngster is rated extremely highly in several circles, having already made three first-team starts for Gillingham.
The questions in the press conference were focussing mainly on Freeman’s prospect, and the future of English players at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger had this to say:
“I have been accused of only buying foreign players and would like to contribute to the quality of English football. I know how much the English national team means to people. To contribute to that would also give me pride as well.
…I believe once the English kids get to the same technical level as those in Europe they will win trophies,” he said, “because they have a mental side that is usually stronger.“
Hopefully it is a mentality that will sink into the skins of the media soon, but dont bet on anything. The other news focusses on Jens Lehmann, who has sprung a u-turn on his proposed move to his old club Borrusia Dortmund. On rejecting the offer, Lehmann said:
“It would have been a very attractive challenge, but I have decided against taking this step due to personal reasons.“
Which leaves it all very interesting as to what the man will actually do. If he actually has decided to stay, it would just about sum up a microcosm of himself, truth be told.
Straight onto the Birmingham preview, and we will be seeing a full-strength side coming out in front of the home fans tonight, with only one question mark over who will be partnering William Gallas. I do not believe Wenger will be moving Sagna from right back to centre, simply because there is no need to cede Bacary’s dominance on the right wing so needlessly.
Two choices present themselves here: Either Justin Hoyte – who put in a good display against Tottenham when asked to cover at centre – can play, or the more experienced (but reluctant) Gilberto can cover for Toure and Song’s African odysee and Djourou/Senderos’ injuries.
I have gone for Gilberto’s experience, simply because the likes of Olivier Kapo need tracking from a distance – though were Hoyte to be chosen after a glowing Wenger review, he would have my confidence as well.
Should Gilberto play, he will need to put in some semblance of an overdue performance, even out of his natural position. The other positions pick themselves, with Eduardo and Adebayor champing at the bit to get back on the scoresheet, and Hleb looking to reassert himself after a rest.
Fabregas has been sliding in the assists despite his lost goalscoring ebb, but I am sure that a goal, even a deflected fluke of a Lampard’s arse, will put a spring in his step that would be a welcome boost to the title push.
All in all, we should be looking to win this game. The only concern – of which Arsenal.com has a coy number of – is whether any injuries are picked up from this game. We certainly could do without any more, particularly in defence.
That aside, I am hoping for a good three points to put more pressure on Manchester United, who play Newcastle at home after us. People may say that’s a foregone conclusion, though the Barcodes are a funny old club sometimes. Hopelessly unreliable to ever base your hopes on such things, though.
Im off to wash some dishes. Enjoy the game tonight, more tomorrow.