Fulham Preview + Thoughts on Theo, Podolski & more

I expect Arsenal to make only one change today…
…and that will be an enforced one.  Jack Wilshere is suspended so will drop out of the side, with Francis Coquelin the man most likely to replace him.  Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are back in the squad , but having just recovered from injury are unlikely to be rushed straight back in to the side.  Other than that, I expect Thomas Vermaelen to continue at full-back and Theo Walcott to keep his place on the wing.

I can’t help but feel today could be a big day for Olivier Giroud…
The Frenchman is quietly getting in to gear.  Since breaking his duck against Coventry, he has started six games.  In that period of time, he has amassed four goals.  It means that despite all the criticism, he currently has more goals this season than, say, a certain Wayne Rooney.  The blight on his record is that only one of those goals has come in the Premier League – a competition in which he has appeared in every game.  A goal today would help give him some real momentum going in to the North London Derby.

It sounds like Theo Walcott is on the way out…
When asked about his contract situation this week, Arsene said:

“‘I don’t want to go into any details but you can believe me [that] we do the maximum we can to keep our best players.”

It’s a familiar refrain.  It’s the same thing he said previously about Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Robin van Persie.  The deadline for Theo to sign a new deal is fast approaching.  For footballing and financial reasons, I’d like to see him sign a new deal.  However, I’m afraid it looks to be too late for that.

Lukas Podolski is not entirely to blame for his own downturn in form…
Arsene Wenger puts it down to culture shock.  I’d suggest it’s simply down to a lack of chances.  The German has not scored for more than a month, but in that period of time I can’t think of a significant chance he’s missed.  In fact, I can barely think of a single chance he’s missed in his time as an Arsenal player.  He’s lethal in front of goal – the team just need to work harder to get him there.

It’s great to see Tomas Rosicky back in training…
I had almost forgotten that he was still an Arsenal player.   It’s easy to forget how fantastic he was in the second half of last season, and he will add some much needed zip and verve to our midfield when he returns.  It will also enable us to give Santi Cazorla some much-needed rest – the Spaniard has looked jaded in recent weeks.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.