Haven’t written in a while, therefore this will be more of a short summation on things that have happened in the past week. No place better to start than with the players.
Emmanuel Frimpong will be out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury. Whilst he has only played 5 games in his loan stint with Wolverhampton Wanderers, it can be surmised that it was a rather successful loan. His all action in midfield has endeared the hearts of many Wolves fans and that can only mean good things. Fans respond to players who are willing to give it their all for the cause of the club and Frimpong is surely one such player.
The loan move was supposed to give him the minutes in the Premiership that he wasn’t going to get with us. It’s disappointing to see him losing out on that front considering that Mick McCarthy seemed to have taken a liking to him and very bravely starts the youngster more often than not. Another setback in the life of the DEENCH man having missed out on the entire of last season. Hopefully, he can overcome this like he did with the last major injury and come back stronger next season.
Kieran Gibbs has now recovered from his injury and should feature tomorrow against Sunderland. I’m holding out for the sustained period of action and moving away from the tag of injury prone, not unlike that of Robin Van Persie. There should not be any talk of him making the England squad for the Euros. First and foremost, the left back has to consistently play for Arsenal. With Andre Santos out for longer period, he’s the only first team left back that we have (yes, I rather not count Thomas Vermaelen nor Ignasi Miquel in this bracket), if Gibbs can stay healthy, selection for games should not be a concern for him.
With Bacary Sagna back in action and Carl Jenkinson not far away now, we’ve got a lot of options in defence. Hopefully that means no more players will be played out of position. That should mean a return to the centre of defence for Vermaelen. As the past 2 months have shown, we’ve lacked a little in defence as well as in attack without our full backs.
As long as the current player availability continues, the question for Arsene Wenger will be surrounding which pairing to choose for the centreback partnership. The manager will have to make his decision as changing the partnership every other game does not help the defence at all. It’s not a dig at the performance of Per Mertesacker, he has been commendable in adapting to the league, but at the moment I’m supporting the choice of Laurent Koscielny and Vermaelen being selected.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been getting the headlines in the past few weeks with his performances in the Arsenal first team and rightly so. He’s another player who’s been linked with a call-up to the full national squad for the upcoming Euros (not sure if it will change now, since it was Fabio Capello who gave those comments). However, the lad has shown real maturity by preferring to cement his place in the first eleven for the red and white before any talk of an international cap.
There’s no doubting of the talents that AOC has. Since his introduction into the first team for the Premier League games, we’ve had a renewed zip in our forward movement. There’s a real sense of excitement and expectation each time he receives the ball. However, that must be tempered with the fact that he’s young and inexperienced. Consistency will be the key marker for his progression as a footballer. Something which will only come about if he’s given continual presence on the pitch.
While AOC looks like a happy camper now, there’s another figure in the attacking line-up who isn’t. Park Ju Young has not gotten the minutes that he or in fact we thought that he would get when he first arrived at the club. His agent has been saying that if the current situation persist, Park will look elsewhere to ply his trade. You can’t begrudge him for saying that. His place as the captain of South Korea is in jeopardy with increasing amount of time spent on the substitute bench unused.
It’s as hard for him as it is for Marouane Chamakh. They are both below the pecking order for a solitary spot in the first team. The single striker system that Wenger favours will not help them to get games. Especially not in front of a more talented and frankly more in form striker in RvP. It’s the right decision as well. On one hand, they need games to find that touch or to rediscover that form but even Wenger will hard it hard to come out with a reason to play them instead of RvP.
Another striker who’s a victim of the system is Carlos Vela. The Mexican is currently out on loan with Real Sociedad and seemingly performing well in La Liga. It’s a pity when you think how well he did when he first started playing for us. Vela probably works best in tandem with another striker up front but struggles as a lone figure. It would have been nice to see him flourish with us but it isn’t half bad to see that he’s able to find himself once again, albeit with a different club.
Meanwhile, news filtered through, though unconfirmed by Arsenal that Johan Djourou has signed an extension to his contract. I’m not sure what to make of it. He was imperious in the couple of months last season when he formed a solid partnership with Koscielny but has since been found wanting. When others have taken their chances and step up, Djourou’s improvement as player has been stalled. For once, we can’t blame it on injuries. However, I will say this, as a 4th choice centreback, he’s better than what a lot of other clubs have within their ranks.
From the information making it’s way around, it does seem like Arsenal will be in for a very busy pre-season this coming June/July period. Which seems rather worrying because of the European Championships and Olympics tournaments still to be considered. Let’s not forget the possibility of Champions League qualifier in August. We might be worn out before the season even reach halfway point. A tour of Asia and Nigeria has been mooted and the financial implications from it could be massive.
We are lacking behind the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United when it comes to flexing our commercial values. Tours like those will only generate higher interest and in turn, generate higher potential of commercial partnership and generate sales as well. That said, I’m not sure we would want to share that with Manchester City and imagine the horror of going all the way to China only to see Howard Webb as the referee.
That all will be clearer as the season draws closer to the end. More importantly for the club now is to push on from our first big margin victory of the season. A double header with Sunderland awaits.