Archive for October 22nd, 2011

A toast to Arsene & other bits

58 comments October 22nd, 2011

There’s only one place to start today, and that’s with wishing a very happy birthday to Arsene Wenger. Our manager is now 62 years old, and has dedicated almost a quarter of his life to serving Arsenal Football Club.  It’s a debt of service and a body of work that leaves me in awe.  Here’s to you, Professor.

I was struck by a quip from Arsene to French TV last week.  He said:

“When I arrive at the gates of Heaven the Good Lord will ask ‘what did you do in your life?’

I will respond ‘I tried to win football matches.’ He will say: ‘Are you sure that’s all?’ But, well, that’s the story of my life.”

At a time when opinion over the manager is more divergent than ever, you cannot question his dedication to the Arsenal cause.  The quote above underlines the paradox of Arsene: he is a fiercely intelligent man, who has spent his life pursuing something as absurd as football.  At times he has transcended that, turning sport in to art.  At the moment, he goes game to game, trying to claw three points from each fixture.

That process continues tomorrow against Stoke.  The team news sees Carl Jenkinson added to our injury list.  Arsene says that one of Johan Djourou or Laurent Koscielny will fill in at right-back.  I’d be inclined to choose Djourou, simply because I’d be cautious to split up the increasingly effective partnership between Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.  Arsene has been speaking about the teutonic titan:

“I brought him here for more than this type of game [Stoke] because I feel he is a good player. He is a good organiser, he understands the game, he is an intelligent player and physically he is getting sharper and sharper in every game.

He had no real preparation for the season and now you can see that we look less nervous at the back and he contributes to that.”

Arsene also says he’d like to see the German get more goals from set-pieces, but for that to happen the delivery from the likes of Mikel Arteta and Robin van Persie needs to improve dramatically.

Stoke will be a significant test, and hopefully I’ll be able to furnish you with a full preview tomorrow.  I unexpectedly have to dash, but why not spend the afternoon raising a glass to our manager, and enjoying some of his finest turns of phrase here.

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Cesc Fabregas
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