Archive for September 14th, 2010

I knew it was too good to be true

23 comments September 14th, 2010

When Abou Diaby limped off against Bolton following Paul Robinson’s horror challenge, many feared the worst.  Arsenal players are not famed for their powers of recovery.  What could mean a week or two out for most footballers can result in amputation at Arsenal.

Imagine my surprise and joy, then, when stories emerged that Diaby was set to miss just two games: tomorrow’s match against Braga, and Sunderland at the weekend. Turns out, it’s far too good to be true.  The journalist in question have merely mangled Wenger’s quotes in to the implausible story.  What Arsene actually said was:

“Diaby is out with an ankle problem following the tackle from Robinson and I do not know for how long.

He will not play tomorrow and certainly not at the weekend.”

Ad infinitum.

Thomas Vermaelen is also still out, so Squillaci and Koscielny will continue the partnership they established on Saturday.

We don’t know a huge amount about Braga, but the manner in which they’ve arrived in the Europe’s premier club competition is impressive.  First they finished above Porto, who beat us in last season’s competition to claim second place in the Portugese Liga. Then the qualification rounds saw them dispatch Celtic and Sevilla in impressive style.

They’re a defensively mean outfit, who conceded a miserly 20 goals in 30 league games last season, so it’s no surprise their intended strategy at the Emirates is the counter-attack.  Michael Cox of Zonal Marking has posted an interesting tactical analysis of the game over on ITVFootball.

Finally, I landed myself in hot water with some readers yesterday when I expressed ambivalence at the return of Denilson. For those who missed it, I said:

“Had you noticed he was missing?  Me neither.  He has some value as a squad player, but hopefully the emergence of Wilshere will mean his days as a regular starter are behind him.”

Well, for the Denilson fans who were upset by my estimation of his talents, have a read of this excellent defence of the midfielder by GingersforLimpar, who makes the point that his ball retention skills are a critical part of the modern game.

Whatever my feeling about Denilson, his pure statistics are impressive.  But I stand by my original point: he does have a role to play in the squad, either as a late substitute to help see games out, or in matches in which we aim to play more defensive-minded keep-ball.  However, for two seasons now he’s been close to a permanent fixture in the Arsenal side, and I don’t think he offers enough to justify a regular starting place.

With Diaby out tomorrow, however, he might just get an opportunity to prove me wrong.

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