Man City Preview: Diaby prepares for his latest comeback

A draw against opposition of Man City’s calibre in the Quarter-Finals of the Carling Cup presented Arsene with something of a selection dilemma.  Arsene may have been toying with the idea of including some of the first-team in tonight’s tie.  A somewhat lacklustre display against Fulham at the weekend will have banished that thought from his mind.  He’ll want to give the regulars a rest, so it’ll be a combination of reserves and youngsters on display tonight.

At his press conference yesterday, Arsene said:

“I believe that some players are on the fringe of being really limited.  I will rest some players but I still want to play a team that has a chance to win the game. For example, players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emmanuel Frimpong will play but I consider them to be first-team players. I have 90% decided. There is still 10% flexibility.”

Those two are likely to be joined by fellow Young Guns Francis Coquelin and Ignasi Miquel.  Experience will come from the likes of Lukasz Fabianski, Johan Djourou, Sebastien Squillaci, and Park Chu-Young.

Yossi Benayoun will also be afforded a rare start, and the manager has moved to praise a player whose opportunities have been limited by competition:

“He has been absolutely fantastic but we have so much choice in midfield and we play with three strikers.

The chances for the midfielders are not so big and that’s why he has not played as much as he deserves.”

Benayoun’s versatility and work ethic make him a really useful option both from the bench and when Arsene sees fit to rotate.  His age and pay packet mean he’s unlikely to be offered a permanent deal at the end of this season, but that only makes his professionalism in the mean-time all the more commendable.

Abou Diaby will also play, making his first start of the season.  We’ve been here so many times before that it’s difficult to get too excited about his latest comeback.  One feels that a good performance would only signal another false dawn before his problematic ankle returns to plague him.  I think we just have to accept that his will be a career dogged by injuries, and enjoy the fleeting glimpses we do see of a player who is undeniably talented.  If we use him sparingly he could be an excellent option over the winter months, and allow the likes of Arteta and Ramsey a well-deserved rest.

UPDATE: I’m being told Diaby is in fact already injured again.  So more his latest setback than latest comeback.  Dear dear.

City will rest players too, but their absurdly bloated squad will mean that they’ll have plenty of talent at their disposal.  The likes of Kolo Toure, Nigel De Jong, Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko were all on the bench on Sunday and should start tonight.

In other matters, Matt Law of The Express says Arsenal were scouting Lukas Podolski at the weekend.  Podolski’s versatility makes him an intriguing option, and he’d provide more prolific back-up for Robin van Persie than either Chamakh or Park.  However, Raphael Hongistein swiftly pointed out that confirmed Arsenal target Marco Reus was also playing in the game, so perhaps he was the main object of our attention.

Finally, thanks to Charlton Athletic (featuring Ian Wright’s son, Bradley) for beating Huddersfield last night and thus ending their unbeaten run at 43 games.  Our 49-game streak remains intact, and the Invincibles remain immortal.

Right.  Very little would be funnier than seeing our Reserves beat moneybags Man City.  So Come On You Gunners.

Arsenal enquire about German forward


Arsenal have made an enquiry for Borussia Mönchengladbach attacker Marco Reus. The 22 year-old has scored seven times in 12 Bundesliga appearances this season, and has clearly caught the eye of Arsene Wenger.

Gladbach coach Lucien Favre tells tomorrow’s Bild:

“Jens Lehmann has given Wenger an tip-off. After that Arsène has called me.

I had to be honest. I told Wenger he (Reus) was a very good player. But I want to keep him.”

That’s hardly surprising, considering just a day or two ago Favre described Reus as “one of the best players I’ve ever trained”.  Raphael Honigstein described Reus to me as “the white Ashley Young” – and, like the Manchester United winger, Reus enjoys cutting in from the left-flank on to his preferred right foot.  You can Rafa’s profile of the player here, and watch some clips of him in action below. The boy strikes a ball very clearly indeed:

A release clause of €18m comes in to play next summer, but Arsenal could be forced to pay even more in January.  The other major stumbling block is the supposed interest of Bayern Munich, who are perhaps a more natural destination for a player who is far from certain to excel on foreign shores.  Wait and see, I guess.

Over the next two transfer windows, Arsenal will be as much at pain to hold on to players as acquire them.  The last few months have seen Samir Nasri follow Cesc Fabregas out the door, and serious questions raised over the future of current captain and talisman, Robin van Persie.  In that climate, it has been particularly heartwarming to hear the words of Jack Wilshere.  Although currently on the sidelines through injury, there can no doubt that he’s one of our most important players, and his commitment to the club appears to be unwavering.  When asked if he wanted to remain with Arsenal “forever”, Wilshere said:

“I promise that, yeah. I’ve been at the club since I was nine and learned to love it.

“From the [Patrick] Vieira days, to [Dennis] Bergkamp, [Cesc] Fabregas, I’ve watched them come through and move on. There’s a crop of new players, [Aaron] Ramsey, myself, Kieran Gibbs hopefully we can really create something special. I love the club and I want to be part of its future.”

I think that it’s never a wise for a footballer to make those kinds of promises.  Let’s just hope his resolve is not severely tested by circumstance.

Finally, if for some reason you haven’t already, check out arseblogger’s write-up of a visit to the newfangle medical centre.  Thoroughly interesting stuff.