Archive for March 26th, 2010

Arsene putting Barca to the back of his mind

4 comments March 26th, 2010

The manager is often asked to weigh up the respective importance of domestic and European competition.  The Premier League is the clearest indicator of the nation’s strongest team, but the Champions League represents uncharted territory for our club.  With prizes of enormous value steeped on both side’s, Arsene’s focus remains impressively narrow: he is only worrying about that game.

With that in mind, he seems determined to field Sol Campbell against Birmingham on Saturday.  If Sol is able to recover and face Barca on Wednesday, great.  If not, Vermaelen will return, most likely alongside Alex Song with Denilson continuing in midfield.  It makes sense to me: either way, we won’t have to play Silvestre.  The arrival of Campbell after a good few months out of the game and his positive impact in the side has only served to illustrate just how far off the pace the Frenchman was.  A summer move back to France seems extremely likely.

One wonders if his compatriot William Gallas will be off too.  Arsene has said any talks with Gallas, who could be back to face Wolves a week tomorrow, are on hold for now:

“I feel we are winning the battle to keep him but in this domain you have to be open and be ready for anything.  He is in a position where he is free to sign for anybody he wants and tomorrow somebody could come up and offer him a massive amount of money and I don’t know if he will sign or not.  He knows we want to keep him and that we make an effort but it has to be, as it always has been historically, within our set budget.”

I’m not confident, partly because Gallas’ form this season has been so exceptional.  I can see an Italian side handing him a two or three year deal without any qualms, and at his age you could understand him looking for that security.  Gallas would be a real loss: although he has been absent in the recent run, he and Vermaelen have been crucial in providing the platform for any potential success.  Tomorrow will be our first game without either of them, and I’m fascinated to see how we cope.

Nicklas Bendtner will be fit to face his former club, which could spare Eduardo the possible trauma of a start on the ground where he received his terrible injury.  More on that tomorrow.

In other news, two of our youth prospects have secured loan deals: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas will continue his impressive spell at Doncaster, whilst Sanchez Watt has signed for promotion hopefuls Leeds.

If you haven’t yet heard enough from me, you should see your doctor immediately.  Alternatively, you could head over to arseblog and listen to this morning’s Arsecast, where you’ll also have the chance to win a Cesc We Can t-shirt.  If competitions aren’t your thing or you’re just plain unlucky, I’d suggest picking yours up from the store right away – they’re flying off the shelves faster than Theo Walcott in a jet-pack.

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