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No Freddie, it’s no crying shame. It has been our pleasure to watch you play

One more day to go before match day and there’s plenty to talk about. This gist of it coming from Arsene Wenger’s press conference. A press conference in which the manager was right in form and provided a lot of tiny details which actually do mean a lot.

Guess there’s no better one to start with than this. While it’s a topic about high prices which will limit the number of actual transfers and the expectation of more loan deals being done, Wenger also admitted that he has only lost ONE world class player in this transfer window. We all know who that ONE is. The one that didn’t leave the Premier League. Doubt Alex Song will take much interest in this news but it does tie in with what Wenger said after.

Just like most of you, I’m also hoping that we are not done with buying yet. The manager’s frank admission probably explained why we let Song go. Because he’s not that top top quality and it wouldn’t be too hard to replace him. Wenger only wants a top class midfielder who’s completely defensive or he’ll play Mikel Arteta in the deeper midfield position. Wenger may liken Arteta playing there to Andrea Pirlo but let’s not forget that Pirlo has tough tackling all action midfielder beside him to support. Arturo Vidal at Juventus and Danielle De Rossi at international level.

That is something which we do not provide to Arteta, should he play there. Not when Francis Coquelin is left on the bench. Neither do I think that Abou Diaby is suited to play in a role which switches between him being the most defensive one and being the defensively supporting one. More than most, I believe that it takes Arteta away from the role which he could be the most productive for us, the link man. His awareness and quick incisive passing is crucial for when we switch from defence to attack. Would be quite a waste to sit him in a fixed defensive role. However, if Coquelin does not get the nod, then at the moment, Arteta is the best bet we have.

At this stage of the season and the limited time left on the transfer market, it is hard to see any team parting with their best players. If we follow what Wenger said about top class player(s), then that is what we’re searching for. It will be hard for clubs to sell now because there are limited time to search for replacements. Of course, we could have set things in motion for quite some time and have allowed those teams adequate time to find the replacement before we come in with an offer. Nobody outside the club really know for sure.

I do not subscribe to the notion that by bringing in a world class player, it would affect the development of the younger potentials that we have in our squad right now. I’m sure Coquelin would be happy to play second fiddle to that player because there’s plenty to learn. And if the Coquelin or whichever youngster wants to play, then they’ll just have to improve and be better than the said world class player. I doubt I’m alone in thinking this way.

On to matters further back, Per Mertesacker is set to continue his presence in the starting eleven. This, of course comes after Laurent Koscielny has been deemed unfit to feature tomorrow. It’s not a foregone conclusion that had Koscielny been available, Mertesacker would not start but the injury just makes the choice clearer. It will be the first experience for the big German away to Stoke. He will have to play his part if we are to reduce a certain statistics that goes against us. 6 out of 9 goals that we conceded to Stoke has all come from set pieces.

He has to take charge of the penalty box. A scenario that might not be helped should Wojciech Szczesny not make it for tomorrow’s game. Mertesacker must not allowed Stoke to bully him. We could have the option of Song, who’s very decent in the air, to help protect the defence. But he’s no longer with us and it’s not that we did extremely well with him in the side either. Surely Mertesacker is on duty to win the first header. However, it’s not only Mertesacker’s job to ensure that we don’t concede. I seemed to recall some of the goals came from flick-ons and us not picking up the runners. Everyone’s concentration has to play their part and ensure that no Stoke runner gets a free shot at goal.

We cannot finish without touching on the retirement of one fantastic player. Freddie Ljungberg announced his retirement yesterday and I’m sure all Gooners will join me in saluting his career, especially his time with us. The Swede has a goalscoring ratio for us of around one in every 5 matches. That is a very good record for a player that usually plays wide in midfield. The timing of his runs are second to none and it was a real pleasure to have him as a Gooner and to have seen his contribution to our cause.

Thanks for everything you red hair genius.