Club football returns. Saturday’s match is the one we’re looking forward to but we can’t forget the younger teams. We lost our first game in the NextGen Series yesterday away to Olympiacos. As good a game for these youngsters to be playing in. The atmosphere and the experience of long distance travelling will help them along the way to the senior team, whoever that is.
Our senior team will have our players back to prepare for the upcoming match against Southampton. They will play 7 more games in league and cup competitions before jetting off for another round of internationals in the second week of October. 7 matches that we hope for the team to continue our progressing up the league table as well as achieving qualification to the next stage of cup competitions, or in the case of the Champions League, put us in the position for qualification.
As fans, that’s what we want from the team. I’m sure the players themselves want that too but it’s heartening when the players sees it from our angle. None more evident than Carl Jenkinson. It is heartening to have a Gooner in the playing side. There are a lot of recruits of players coming in to play for us who ends up loving the club and well…..becoming a Gooner themselves. However, to make the step up like what Charlie George did before him (although via different routes) is not something which goes unnoticed by the fans.
He has stared every single game for us this season due to the injury to Bacary Sagna. Jenkinson wasn’t exactly everyone’s preferred choice of replacement. There are those who wanted Francis Coquelin to fill in there or even Laurent Koscielny to be moved out to right back. Thankfully, Arsene Wenger kept his faith in the English full back and has been rewarded with stellar performances thus far.
I think no one would argue that he is the most naturally gifted player of his generation. However, what Jenkinson exudes is the desire and determination to rise to the level required to be a right back for Arsenal Football Club. He sometimes makes the wrong judgement to check or to go in for the tackle but his desire and pace allows him the opportunity to recover and win the ball at the second opportunity. Working with Steve Bould as well as learning from the more experienced defenders around him, Jenkinson will improve. That, I have no doubt.
Jenkinson isn’t the only player that Wenger has faith in. Well, Wenger generally has faith in all of his players. Perhaps not completely when in private but it’s absolute whenever in public. Another one who receives the trust is Abou Diaby. Muscle pain caused him to pull out of France’s win over Belarus and Wenger is adamant that it is a small concern. Some reports suggest that he could be out for 6 days but the manager said that Diaby could be contention to play this weekend. I shall hope not.
While Diaby himself has said that he’s not a brittle player, I don’t think it is a risk worth taking. It’s not as if there are no replacement available. Perhaps not a like for like replacement but the few who can come in are no slouch. Aaron Ramsey looks the likeliest to start and it will be his first start of the season, if so. The Welsh captain will offer a different dynamics to the one that Diaby provides. In the similar position, Ramsey tends to go for the pass instead of making the driving runs.
I will admit that Ramsey is my personally preferred choice to start but having written the paragraph above, I’m starting to think that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the better option. That is, if we are to retain Mikel Arteta as the deepest of the triumvirate. If Coquelin were to come in, then I have no concern with Arteta being the link man. Coming back to what I said before, looking at the midfield shape, AOC does represent the better option. He possesses a similar dribbling ability that of Diaby and is also more defensively aware. We will find out on Saturday, I guess.
Moving away from the players and onto the manager, Ivan Gazidis has had a few things to saw about Wenger. With Wenger staring down at the end of his contract in 2014, Gazidis is hoping to make an extension to that. There will be divisions in within the Arsenal supporters camp on this decision. Some are willing him to stay on while others wants to see a change.
Whichever wind that you’re following, I’m sure you also know that 2014 represents the critical period in the history of our football club. If not in the general scheme, then in the financial side. That is the year when most of the major commercial deals ends. New deals with better package can be put in place and that could potentially place us in the “top five clubs” in the world, according to Gazidis. I think that meant financial power.
We’ve managed to survived this period, thanks to Wenger. Yes, without trophies. Couple of so near yet so far seasons. Departures of world class/soon to be world class players. I’d hate not to have Wenger still there to benefit when we are able to flex our new found muscles.
Time will tell on this one.