The international break, or the more popularly known Interlull has taken its toll on me. I haven’t been able to blog or work at full efficiency over the past week, thanks to a well timed cold, or flu, or stomach bug, or whatever that was.
Well timed because there is no football action this week, which means I wouldn’t have to flex my muscles when a goal goes in, or frown over Vermaelen’s poor positioning. It also has saved me the hassle of watching late night games, which often would result in me sleeping in the office during work hours. But, that’s anything but the point. I am happy to be done with my yearly bout of flu, and life can go on now.
The off week has also given me some time to catch up with my studies, as I prepare for what is supposed to be the biggest exam of my life, a day before the game at Old Trafford. Funny, how I remember dates and events with Arsenal’s fixtures.
I apologise to everyone who follows my blog closely, for the lack of blogging action, but I can assure you, you haven’t missed much. Much of the week on the footballing internet is only been devoted to rambling about the international fixtures, which will keep our players busy, and even send them home with a bruise or two.
The win over West Ham seems like ages away, and I cannot wait for the Norwich game to come around. Like everyone, I have been thoroughly impressed by Santi Cazorla’s play, not only on the pitch, but also in the virtual world, where he scored twice, as I played an early random predictor on FIFA 12 (poor old me!), ahead of the United game, 3 weeks from now.
There are very few players who are equally talented with both feet. And by that I do not mean me. I am equally useless with both my feet. I cannot find a term in the dictionary which would mean ambidextrous with your feet, but I think Cazorla comes close. As Arsene Wenger and Theo Walcott both said, they really do not know which is his stronger foot.
Something else about Cazorla that has impressed me is his ability to hold on to the ball. Time and time again, in games against Olympiakos and West Ham, the opposition tried to bully him, but the wily Spaniard barely budged. Yes, it is quite a very Spanish trait, to hold on to the ball, even if you life depended on it, but I think his enthusiasm, work rate and effort will all rub down into the rest of the team as games go by.
What has allowed Cazorla to free up, is the assuring presence of Mikel Arteta in midfield. Second only to another Spaniard (duh!), Xavi in Europe’s list of top passers, Arteta has reinvented himself in his new position. This new system means players like Diaby, or Ramsey, and soon, Wilshere play link up between defence and attack, with Cazorla being the prime creator.
The fact that Ramsey has now disciplined his game to an extent, where he likes keeping it short and simple is proof that the Spanish effect is glistening around the midfield. Last season, often with Song around, Ramsey would attempt his backheels, and long field passes, much to our frustration, but he has shown vast improvements already, and I hope he continues in the same fashion. He is an immense talent, and really one of the future stars at the club, if he keeps working hard.
Speaking of which, Jack Wilshere is slowly building his way to fitness, having played a couple of games for the reserves and under-21’s, (aren’t they the same?) against West Brom and Reading, and reports are that he has been showing steady fitness levels. He has beefed up during his time off, for over a year, which is good, considering the game has gotten even more physical these days. He is expected to start against Reading in the Capitol One Cup, at the end of the month, which should be the perfect fixture to judge his fitness.
Another player returning to full fitness is Bacary Sagna, who is expected to be available for selection against Norwich, the side, ironically, against whom he suffered his injury way back in May. He, along with Andre Santos too played in the reserves side. Santos, of course, has been kept out by a fantastic Kieran Gibbs, and the only action he has seen in the Premier League this season is from the sidelines, and a little more than half an hour against West Ham.
Gibbs withdrew from the England squad, due to the thigh strain he suffered at Upton Park, and Santos will of course be starting, if Gibbs doesn’t recover sufficiently in time. Come to think of it, it is fantastic to have two quality international experienced full backs in Sagna and Santos as deputies for the young, and talented English duo of Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs.
Of course, Santos is defensively vulnerable, and every time he gets the ball, I prefer to look away to prevent my heart from suffering any kind of jolt, but surely some work has been done there by Messrs Bould, and we will hopefully get to see the effects of it, very soon. Again, that said, I would not like to see the back four at the moment, being replaced by returning players.
Jenkinson-Mertesacker-Vermaelen-Gibbs look as solid an Arsenal defensive partnership I remember. The last time I saw a formidable Arsenal defence, which looked mean, was the famous, hastily assembled, yet so unspectacularly solid group of Eboue-Toure-Senderos and Flamini, of the 05/06 season. Of course, none of the remain at the club anymore.
Breaking the defence up to be replaced by returning players, can cause minor flutters, and it shouldn’t happen until actually needed. Atleast, that’s what I feel. Corporal Jenkinson has proved to everyone, and to Sagna, that he will be no pushover, and he wants to make the right back spot at the club his very own.
Moving on to some interviews, our players have done in their off time. Olivier Giroud has revealed his goal target to the French press. His target is a lowly 12. It sounds a bit low, but I would be satisfied if Giroud can score 12 goals in the league in his first season at the club. Our scoring is being shared all around, with Walcott and Podolski scoring 4, Gervinho leading the charts with 5, and the likes of Cazorla, Arteta, Koscielny, Vermaelen will all chip in over the course of the season. So much for being a one man team, eh.
The goal over the weekend will be a shot of confidence for the French striker, who has been ridiculed and criticized, unfairly, since his arrival. 2 goals and 4 assists is not a bad return at all for a player, who has made just 4 starts and 6 substitute appearances so far. I, however feel, he will score more than 12, and will be close to the 20 mark. According to some reports, and some tweets, he has asked for more shooting practice, which shows what a humble, and good lad he is. Girls, he is a winner. You couldn’t ask for more in a guy.
Another fascinating interview this week, was the light-hearted one between Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. The two spoke about settling into life in the UK, and it seems to be pretty good for Cazorla so far. Arteta also spoke of his desire to play for the Spanish national side, which has sparked a debate among the Arsenal faithful.
Personally, I think he deserves some Spain caps under his belt. He is a fantastic professional, a good role model for younger players, and has better hair than Carles Puyol, or any of the other on the Spanish side. Unfortunately, for Arteta, he is born in a country, with excess of football talent. Alas, only if loan systems applied at the international level, I would get to see my beloved India at the World Cup.
Like AW said previously, if Arteta was born in a different country, he surely would have amassed a century of caps by now. Cazorla has promised to put forward a word to del Bosque, and ironically, Cazorla, himself isn’t a first teamer in a midfield of Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Mata, Busquets, Alonso etc. Boy, that is some mouth watering talent there.
And, while we are speaking about Arteta, I am really really happy to have a footballer of his class and caliber at the team I support. Having taken a pay cut to join the Gunners from Everton, only to fulfill his desire to play in the Champions League, Arteta has been a leader and a guiding force for the new younger breed of players at the club. Like Cazorla said, he was impressed by the level of respect Arteta had in the team, and that almost all consider him as captain. Thomas Vermaelen may have something to say about that, but I am pretty sure, even he is all ears when Mikel speaks.
If his attitude is exemplary, so are his in field displays. The stats don’t lie, and here’s proof why Arteta should really be considered for Spain selection. It makes me wonder, what if we had signed Arteta, instead of that oney grabbing twat Nasri. On the other hand, there is a group that believes, it is best for us if he isn’t selected for internationals. We anyways have enough players who get selected, and return injured or bruised, and we wouldn’t want Arteta to be one of them. Instead, he can spend his time in London Colney with the groundsmen or whatever. Just don’t let him get selected for Spain. This is open for debate, of course.
Enough about out dreamy Spanish midfielder with wonderfully gelled hair. And speaking of gelled hair (not really wonderful), there are rumours that Bordeaux are interested in resigning Marrouane Chamakh from Arsenal. The Moroccan has fallen way below the pecking order, and I am not too sure who to blame. He had a decent start to life at the club, scoring like a goal a game, and winning some 10 penalties or something in his first dozen games at the club.
He has since burned out, and eventually lost his place to Lord Robin, our master and savior, who well kept him out of the squad for over a year and a half. If that wasn’t enough, the additions of Podolski and Giroud, and the new found goal scoring machine Gervinho has further dented his chances at the club. He has had to contend being a sub even in Capitol One Cup games. It would do only good if he moved on, however, the wages will be a stumbling block. He is on a fat pay now, and would he be willing to play for much lesser, or stay on and play for the Reserves against Dagenham and Redbridge, Would be interesting.
The biggest news from the week, however, happened yesterday, with Theo Walcott suffering a broken rib, when he collided with the San Marino goalkeeper. How I hate internationals. He was reported to having difficulties in breathing, and has spent around a day in the hospital. This means he will be out for a month, at least, and luckily, we have some cover in the pace department.
That’s the wrap for now. Have another unproductive, crappy, week of an Interlull.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
I will be reducing my blogging frequency, er, I already have, over the next few weeks, and will resume to my usual rate after my exams, which gets over by November 2nd. So, stick around, folks!