Arsenal fans are faced with watching all the other results coming in today, while our team doesn't play until tomorrow. It's always frustrating on a Saturday when Arsenal don't play, and from my own perspective, it's hard to write too much on such a Saturday. However, I'll try my best to run through what Arsenal news there is. Luckily the boss had his press conference yesterday, and it's given me quite a few subjects to discuss.
Firstly he spoke about the injury that Abu Diaby is currently suffering from, and he said that it is a direct result of the challenge on him by Paul Robinson of Bolton. Diaby managed to play four games after that game, but he didn't play at the level that the boss expected from him. According to the boss there are worries about the injury, and Diaby has seen two surgeons so far, but no decision has been made about the next course of action. The boss is hoping that time will heal him, but there is no projected date for a return yet.
Robinson claimed it was a perfectly fair challenge, and as far as I remember the referee gave a free kick, but didn't issue a yellow card. Thanks to the FA's ridiculous interpretation of their own rules no action was taken after the game either. Diaby suffered a horrific injury four and a half years ago on that same leg, and I'm sure that is making his recovery all the more difficult. Until the football authorities decide that challenges like that are to be cracked down on we will have to see good players getting kicked by Robinson, and his like.
With that in mind it's interesting that Arsenal's next two games are against Newcastle and Wolves. We played Newcastle in the Carling Cup a couple of weeks ago, and Joey Barton came on for them with 20 minutes to go. First of all he had a go at Craig Eastmond, and then just before the end he saw his chance to put the boot in on Cesc Fabregas. When Cesc played a quick pass Barton went right through him, and knocked him up in the air. He happily took a yellow card for because he knew he had made his presence felt, and he had got to kick a player whose boots he is not fit to lace.
On Wednesday night we travel to Wolves, and they have a certain Karl Henry in their team. So far this season he has broken Bobby Zamora's ankle, and against Wigan he committed a foul on Jordi Gomez that could have caused a really serious injury, if Gomez didn't manage to land properly. I'm sure he's a hero to the Wolves fans, but I worry about what he will do to our fast moving players, when he gets the chance.
The challenge that broke Zamora's ankle is still described by some "so called" experts as a good tackle, because he got the ball. If you tackle a player, and go through one leg before getting the ball, then it is not a good tackle. Somebody needs to tell people who condone that type of tackle what the actual rules of the game are. I commented on the disgraceful challenge on Liverpool's David N'Gog on Thursday night as well, so it is not just a gripe about the challenges on Arsenal players.
Thankfully the other injury news is far better, as Cesc, Denilson, Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song will all rejoin the squad for tomorrow's game. I suspected that the four of them would be available, and I think that Cesc is the only one who was genuinely unavailable on Wednesday night. The boss took a calculated risk against Shakhtar and it didn't pay off, but I think that our qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League is not in doubt anyway.
The boss also told us that Robin Van Persie is back to full training after his nine week absence, and it looks like it won't be long before we are again worried every time he is tackled. The big question when he returns will of course be, what happens to Maraoune Chamakh? He has played very well since the start of the season, and he would be right to feel aggrieved if he had to stand aside for RVP. It's a headache that the boss has to deal with, and it would be worse if he had no strikers to choose from, like last season.
He also mentioned Thomas Vermaelen, and he said that he is also close to a comeback. Apparently it's a matter of days with him and he's a player that we have missed since he got injured in August. With Aaron Ramsey also on the road to full fitness, and Kieran Gibbs hopefully back in a couple of weeks, there's a possibility that we will have an almost full squad to pick from very soon. You may have noticed that I didn't mention Manuel Almunia in all of this, but I don't think the boss did either.
The manager also spoke about the fact that the club have entered talks with both Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri about new contracts. They both have less than two years left on their current deals, but according to the manager they both want to stay at the club, and continue to play football for Arsenal. I hope that everything can be worked out, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear in the next few weeks, that they have agreed and signed new deals.
It would seem that I found plenty to write about after all, despite the fact that I thought there was very little to discuss. Don't forget to make any necessary changes to your fantasy football teams this morning, and that there are midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. That means that changes can be made again between Sunday night and Tuesday evening. With another set of league fixtures next weekend there could be a lot of changes in the fantasy football leagues in little over a week.
Finally for today there is a story running in The Sun newspaper about Arsene Wenger's personal life, and I hope that it doesn't distract from the real business of football for him. I do not buy that paper, or believe a single word that they print, and I would urge caution to any Arsenal fan who thinks that the story might be true. I'm not saying that it isn't true, as I simply don't know, but I am saying that The Sun is a wholely contemptible publication, and I only use the term newspaper very loosely, when describing it.
That's the lot for today.