Jan 272010


Let’s start with the transfer activity. There has been a lot of rumour and counter-rumour in the last 24 hours regarding Chris Smalling, with some saying he has signed for United, while others claim we have come in with a last-ditch bid to snatch him away.

From the information I have, it’s a done deal. We may or may not have had a bid accepted, but it seems the player has chosen United anyway and will join in the summer. That information backs up the hunch I had anyway that United wouldn’t be stupid enough to make the same mistake twice, by posting this on their official website:

“Manchester United has agreed terms for the transfer of Chris Smalling from Fulham. Chris has agreed personal terms with the club and will join for the beginning of the 2010/2011 campaign. He will remain at Fulham until the end of the current season.”

Having had their fingers burnt by claiming the signing of Ramsey in a similar manner only for us to trump them at the last minute, such a clear statement would not be made again unless they are doubly sure. I believe the only remaining hurdle is the medical.

So we move on. I have no doubt we’ll be chasing centre backs (deliberately plural) in the summer, as we could be incredibly short of numbers – Gallas may leave, and in any case is in the final throes of his career, Campbell almost certainly will leave, while Senderos already has.

Speaking of the Swiss defender, Andy at Arsenal FC Blog has a good piece on him, and particularly the humble and intelligent manner in which he has departed. It would be easy to lash out given his lack of opportunities in recent times, but he remains appreciative of the chance he had. While many fans never rated him, you’d be hard pushed to find one that wouldn’t be happy to see him succeed. Good luck Phil.

Elsewhere, Wilshere’s loan choice is likely to be made public today, after confirmation that a host of top flight clubs are interested in him. Wenger is insistent that he must choose a club that will give him regular football, and while I’d love to see him at a footballing side such as West Ham and Fulham, I suspect he’ll be elbowed in training by Kevin Davies at Bolton instead.

Back to the football, and tonight sees the first in a massive run of games. A trip to Villa is never easy, and we have bad memories of the game from last season, where we let a 2-0 lead slip in a game we could have conceded six in. Fortunately, Villa are on pretty poor form, and the fans are beginning to get impatient – if we have a lot of possession in the first half an hour they may begin to turn.

I must say, having heard the boos ringing around Villa Park in recent weeks, they are a truly ungrateful bunch – Martin O’Neill is doing a great job. I guess people always want more.

Team news is encouraging – Bendtner is back on the bench after a three month layoff, and assuming he can stay fit, he has a massive role to play between now and the end of the season, especially as he’ll have the chance to play down the middle. Nasri also returns (it is incredible how some players consistently recover quickly from injury, and others take an age), while Ramsey and Sagna are available. Diaby should return soon, while Song and Eboue may be available for Sunday.

Villa will be tough – we’ve had problems with Carew and Heskey in the past, but with the first choice back line available again, they will be confident of blocking them out. Cesc will be giving the opposition nightmares after his Boxing Day cameo against them, but their focus on him may free up the likes of Rosicky to make a real impact.

Four big games ahead, and the only one I’m not confident about is the trip to Stamford Bridge. United and Liverpool have to come to the Grove, while Villa are very beatable opposition if we play anywhere near our best. Seven points from the set of games would be a very decent return – even if we lose at the Bridge, two wins and a draw would keep us in contention as our fixture list gets simpler and our injuries clear up.

It would be nice to start with a win tonight, and despite the attention he will get, I’m picking Cesc to score again, at 11/5.

Enjoy the game, wherever you are.

  19 Responses to “Smalling latest + start of the big run”

  1. I tink arsenal has wot it teks 2 upset villa 2nit. If we fire 4rm right, left and middle, den they are bound 2 fall. Gunners go 4 goals!!

  2. i disagree. 7 points out of 12 will be very dissapointing! if we lose to chelsea at the bridge and draw another of the top four games then they would be 8 points ahead of us (given chelsea win their game in hand)and i think tht would be too much for us to recover from. we need to beat the other three and at least get a draw at the bridge to stay firmly in the race…but i dnt want to think like tht its scary…ima think like wenger has told the lads to think….take it one game at a time…n we’ll c where we are four games from now!

  3. i agree with faisal. 7 points just wont be good enough.we need 10 at least and to be honest im not all that confident. we always screw up againts chelsea and united . we allways ply the better football but we make such silly mistakes. look at the united game earlier in the season. we were much better then they were then almunia steps in with a stupid dive at rooneys feet. then that diaby own goal, he wernt even under pressure. we always screw up and i dont expect any different in the next couple of weeks. im sorry to say it i hate saying it but its what i believe at the moment and i so hope the prove me wrong

  4. we must focus on winning all the matches but not just getting some points,expecting 7 points is expression of low self esteem.

  5. We should send all our young players to Bolton lol, they can learn to eat babies there, then come back to us for the silky soccer skills a derranged and foaming at the mouth animal. Unstoppable!!

  6. Guys,7 points do not sound so gud,lets give our lads the optimism that with the winning mentality they can give us the trophy lets nt think negatively…..ARSENAL can go ol the way winning…. that is the spirit we need..lets count the 90mins 2yte.
    Lets join the celebration 2moro

  7. Smalling is a fan of Arsenal is that gonna help? Will be interesting because Fulham has no reason not to accept Wenger’s improved on-par bid.

    I am confident we will have a good run in these 4 games but please take it one game at a time fully focused. This is one for the history books again.

  8. burnley has better players to play passing combos with wilshere.

  9. my line up:

    Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
    Denilson Fabregas Ramsey
    Rosicky Arshavin Eduardo

    Subs: Bendtner, Nasri, Walcott, Traore, Fabianski, Silvestre, Eastmond

  10. Squad not strong enough for these 4 games a striker and holding midfielder should have allready been bought what are Gadiz and wenger doing no replacemnt for Abedayor even before RVP injury and never replaced Flamini bad management will be found out in the end win nothing and Wenger must go its that simple a manager is only as good as his last trophey 5 years would be two long for a top club

  11. Cheers for your comments.

    First off, I think seven points would be a decent return. More would be excellent, less would be a little disappointing. If Chelsea went on a winning run, yes, they would stretch away, but no-one has done that this season and we must take advantage.

    The worst case, as you’ve said, if we managed seven points, is that Chelsea stretch to an eight point lead. But that is a massive assumption – they have to win five games to do that. And no-one has put in a run like that yet. Chelsea have tough games too.

    keith, fine to be negative if we’re in Liverpool’s position, but look at the league and cheer up.

  12. It is very hard to see that Denilson is going to start in all probability. He was a mouse in our last game, losing the ball and happily waving the opposite attcker through. No pride! Nasri has only just returned from injury but I will play him instead.

  13. Feeno : When they come back hey may be inclined to eat their team mates and the manager if they are very hungry. Be careful what you wish for.

  14. keith fuckin relax…the season is not over yet and u r already crying for the manager’s head…

  15. whether we like it or not our team is not as strong as we would wish to be to contest for the two remaining trophies without the addition of a very good centreforward to replace rvp and equally strong centreback to backup our two centrebacks and by not doing so A.W. risks losing to manure/chelsea both trophies.So let him boost the morale of our team/fans by bringing two/three quality players to enhance of chances of at least winning one trophies if not both.Without that we will need all the luck in the world to do so, period.

  16. Keith Is a PRICK We should fire U!!! From being an Arsenal Fan!! Probably Toty Scum!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Eddie:Just like you did not submit an application form to becom an Arsenal fan, you cannot seek to terminate anyone from being an Arsenal supporter. Keith is in fact only repeating what a number of our fans and commentators have said in the past. I know that we are preparing for a match and we should not waste our energy in introspection but you are not really adding to the debate by resorting to name calling.
    Are you trying to say that you would have been unhappy if those players were replaced?????

  18. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions here folks, as long as they are expressed in a non-abusive way.

    eddie, play nice.

  19. Arsenal definitely need a new striker.
    Arsene is definitely a mind fucker. Great manager, great business man, but slave to his own policies.

    Guarantee Bendtner will not stay fit, and will take time to get back to match fitness. And plus when has he been the “prolific” striker Arsenal has been looking for? Never. He has never blossomed or matured. Who says he will now?

    It is obvious Vanp is done for the season,as always.

    Eduardo is just not the same yet. How many matches does it take to get fit.

    ARshavin playing the lead is taking away from his involvement in the game.

    We all seen, in Arshavin, what a little money and experience can bring to the team.

    Arsenal need 1 quality striker, 1 quality DM that can play as CB as well. And 1 quality goalie, which can be worked out next season.

    I hate to state the obvious over and over. But its a fact that money needs to be spent to win trophies, so DO IT!!

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