Injuries, Porto thoughts + the rise of Diaby

After a weekend off from blogging I’m refreshed and ready to tackle all things Arsenal.

The agenda for this week sees the away leg of our Champions League Round of 16 clash with FC Porto followed by a home game in the league against Sunderland. They are two games that probably sit in the medium-hard difficulty ranking but nevertheless two games that we need to produce good results in.

Three points against Sunderland on Saturday are a must while a point in Portugal could probably be considered a good result. Not that we won’t want to see our boys take a lead back to The Emirates for the return leg in three weeks time.

Usually second round Champions League games are played a week apart but for various reasons UEFA have decided to stretch the games over a longer period. How it might affect things I really don’t know, but there is little doubt we have a superior team to Porto and should qualify through the quarter-finals.

Having said that, Porto are a side that continue to defy the odds on the European stage and very nearly knocked Manchester United out of the competition last time around, so we need to be careful. Unsurprisingly, the manager agrees.

There has been no team news released over the weekend but the fallout from the Liverpool game all but confirmed the absences of Andrey Arshavin and Alex Song with respective hamstring and knee problems. The extent of both players injuries are unknown at this stage – although neither are expected to be serious – but both players will be sorely missed.

Arseblogger suggested that Arshavin’s absence might allow recharge his batteries and come back stronger, but I think he’s actually been playing quite well and would have been relishing the opportunity to play his first knockout game ever for the club. Meanwhile Song has been a colossus for us this season and whoever comes in to cover him – most likely Denilson – will have their work cut out to cover his absence.

In other news around the traps Arsene Wenger has praised Abou Diaby for his recent form, stating that he has “become a very strong player”. I don’t think anyone would disagree.

His development this season has been superb and he has deservedly become a favourite of the Arsenal supporters. He brings with him pace, power and physical presence as well as a natural goal threat that many of our midfielders lack. Indeed, his performances have been so good this season that he has become first choice ahead of Denilson, with the manager going for Diaby, Song and Cesc Fabregas as the midfield trio when they are all available.

Anyway, I might leave it there for today. More tomorrow.

Have your say on all things Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. I was very unhappy with our exit from the FA Cup but here’s one way at least that we’ve benefitted from it. A whole week’s rest for the lads ahead of the ultra-important Porto game. Porto on the other hand played this weekend and had a 0-0 draw. The Gunners should be primed and ready to go. Cesc should be in top form. It’s got to be a win for the Gunners surely? The Champions league is, for me, our last chance of Silverware this season.

  2. The key areas:

    1) Clichy
    – Porto will know that Gael Clichy is struggling for form at the moment and they will defenitely see him as the weak link. Hulk, will probably start at CF with underrated pair Cebolla Rodriguez at RW and Radamel Falcao Garcia on the left. Rodriguez is an Urguguyan left footed winger with good skills and deceptive turn of pace for a chunky player.
    He is a winger with dribbling skill unlike a certain sprinter who plays for us.

    – The biggest problem with our team is we cannot keep clean sheets. This is likely why we will not win anything this year. The reasons are our manager and the midfield.

    2) Midfield

    – Song is injured and it is unlikely he will start. Theo Walcott’s cousin Denilson maybe starting. Keep this man away from Arsenal Football Club. If he starts, forget about a clean sheet.

    3) Attack

    – Our world class Arshavin is missing. Nasri is struggling with injury and form.

    – Wenger will likely start with Bendtner flanked by Rosicky and Walcott. Even though Bendtner is not world class, I applaud his effort and confidence when playing. Rosicky is a talented but he needs runners off the ball with talent. He, Fabregas and Nasri are similar players. Walcott has no close control. It is beyond me how he makes 60,000 pounds per week. Watch Cristian Rodriguez burn Clichy, becuase play 4-3-3, because we think we’re Barcelona.

    This summer Fabregas will leave us because it is highly likely we will not win a trophy. Lets be realisitic.

    Almunia, Walcott, Denilson, Vela, Fabianski, Silvestre and Clichy (at times) are a liability to this club.

    Wenger should ask for Toure and Krkic and 20-30 million pounds for Fabregas. Someone please tell me how Bojan Krkic who Barcelona have been shopping makes less of a salary than Walcott, a player who lacks technical ability and runs into brick walls.

    Denilson needs to be kept away from the Emirates at all times. He does nothing in a two or three midfielder setup. Diaby has made some mistakes, but his talent is undeniable. We really need to stiffen our MF. This is why we cannot keep clean sheets.

    Up front, Vela is always injured. At least he has talent in comparison to Walcott. But he seems fragile and is all left foot when playing. Like Eduardo, he is more comfortable in a twin striker setup. But he does not look good enough for a Championship chasing team. Chamakh is not a volume scorer. He has only scored nine goals in France this year. He is six foot one and only 70 kg. Does that sound like a top striker? 26 years old. He wont get better.

    GK: Lehmann 41
    RB: Diarra 25 (among the very best MF)
    CB: Toure 29
    CB: Senderos 25
    LB: Cole 30 (love him or loathe him the best in the business)
    RM: Pires 37
    DM: Flamini 26
    AM: Hleb 29
    LM: Reyes 27 (he was soft, but compare him to Theo?)
    CF: Adebayor 26
    CF: Henry 33

    This what we have let go for better or for worse in the last five years. How do Walcott, Denilson, Almunia, Silvestre, Vela, Eduardo, Fabianski and Bendtner compare footbalistically. It is not sour grapes.

  3. The only 2 on that list that are worth a grain of salt are Henry and Pires. Id also take the mad german, the rest are not the best in the business or the best in their positions. Toure was a great club man, but he was never a true defender god love him. He was made into a CB. The rest still need to prove they can become world class, i hardly doubt it will happen.

  4. Porto is a quality quality side and I am really worried to be honest. At full strength we are favorites but Im not sure we are with all the injuries… Id be more than satisfied with a draw and an away goal

  5. Please keep Denilson away from Arsenal Football Club. This is a man who jogs back on counterattacks. What would Fabio Capello do to this kid if he were Arsenal manager?

  6. yes ,Lehmann at 41 is still a better keeper than almunia by far.was a big fan of flamini and diarra but both got greedy and wanted the fat wallet at a tender age!Diarra’s gone to do alright at madrid whilst Flamini has flactuated at Milan.Senderos only played one game of note,that champions league win over Milan years for walcott, a massive disappointment.henry initially was all pace ,but then went on to become the complete striker.Walcott?,another pennant to my thinking

  7. When strolling on the internet I ran in to this phrase put forward by….. an Arsenal fan. Well he pretends he is.

    “As much as I would love to win the league and champions league this season….it concerns me that if by some miracle we do…..then is this going to give him license to another 5 years of continuing with this youth policy whilst other teams strengthen???

    I think it will…”

    From his words we can clearly deduce that he wants to win something. Well that’s nice. We all want to win things. So no problems there.

    But he thinks we need a miracle to win a trophy.

    I would say it only needs fit players to win a trophy. If maybe we get some players back like Van Persie and if players like Song and Diaby can stay fit well that is all we need I think for the moment. So we just don’t need any more injuryies. Maybe that would be a miracle in itself.

    But our fan is concerned. In fact he prefers not to win trophies this season. Because it could give Wenger more time to continue with his youth policy.

    Now this is getting confusing for me. If Wenger wins with his current squad then it is because of Wenger sticking with his policy that he began 5 years ago. So when finally these players deliver… it is bad news for this fan ?

    When the youth project proves that it can win us trophies this fan prefers not to win it, so he can moan further on the lack of trophies and prove to prove everyone that it won’t bring us trophies and that he was right. So he rather would win us nothing because to do so would prove others right.

    And to think that some people tell us we lack ambition, we don’t want to win things. They only want to win things if we buy players with big shining names and at high prices. Otherwise it is no good for those kind of fans.

    Oh yes and Denilson is the scapegoat at present. And I have no problem in admitting that he wasn’t at his best against United. But the way they are moaning on about him is disgusting.

    Denilson last season had 51 games in total in which he scored 3 goals. This season he played 17 games in total and scored 5 goals. I think this is not a bad statistic for a midfielder who mostly plays in a more holding role.

    I bet those fans didn’t cheer when Denilson gave us some vital goals this season like against Everton, Hull and our first goal this season the cracking shot at Everton and his shot against Standard in the CL.

    And we have to remember that he got a very serious back injury early September which kept him out for a large part of the season. And when he came back he was thrown right in to it. He even literally fell to peaces in one game, had a short rest and had to play again as Song was away and Diaby was also injured.

    So yes it could well be that Denilson wasn’t playing his best the last weeks but he is a human being and not a robot or a player in some kind of computer game where you can modify your player with a mouse click. He just has to get back to his fitness level and all players need time to start performing again when they have been out for such a long time.

    With the possibility of Song being ruled out for some games it could be that Denilson comes back in the team. So why don’t we just get off is back and give him the chance to become the player that Wenger has seen in him. Do I really need to bring up the names like Diaby, Song and even Eboue who has become a better player under the guidance of Wenger.

    Oh, sorry just forgot those on Denilson’s back are all very successful managers of their own team that has just won the CL. How could I forget this?

    Ah what the hell, how on earth can such a good club like The Arsenal have such a bunch of fans who never can stop criticising their own players? Fans who even prefer not to win things in case it gives support to the notion that Wenger was right.

  8. @evo in oz,
    to be fair theres more than bobby and thierry ‘worth a grain of salt’ in that list….ashley cole is arguably the worlds best and if you watch spanish football at all you will see reyes is single handedly turning ath madrids poor season around since his return from a long injury…..gimme half a jose reyes for least he went by defenders and got them on the back foot

  9. Yeah, lets win something this season, i know we are able to win. the gap between the three top clubs is even smaller and we have a better lineup of teams to play than the other two, Man U & Chelski. of concern tho, is the injuries, however, i believe things are taking on a good shape and sooner rather than later, people will realize that the young lads can and will win silverware this season.

  10. Chamakh is 78kgs, and similar to van Persie in build, although a bit more muscles.

    He’s more of a striker in classical ways, taking the ball down and scoring with his head. He’s a good insurance to have if Bendtner doesn’t develop and I’m sure Wenger can improve Chamakh’s play.

    With midfield I agree that we need another physical player. Ramsey and / or Eastmond might be the answer in a few years but now we need another player before that, since Denilson hasn’t the mental strength it seems. A centre back, a defensive midfielder and Marouane Chamakh will make us very strong next season.

  11. Well put Vic! MENEURE, you read your text you will realise you have a serious problem. Where has Song been when we were conceeding all those goals? Statistics will show you that Song has played with a team more balanced than Denilson had last season and yet statistics show you that he was the best at intercepting the ball effectively even by this time last season, 2nd to Alonso passing the ball, 4 tackling 5goals may be six assists. Please apart from words i want to see Song’s statistics and you judge and tell me he is better than Denilson.
    Funny enough you are one of those who said Diaby was crap but look at him fly now. Give Denilson time and trust me you will only refuse to accept that he is a very valuable asset in the defensive midfield position than you don’t want to think.

  12. Um really disappointed in some of you guys.U claim to be gooners but the way you guys criticise sm of the players is just wrong.Guys were against diaby last season,look at him now.Keep the faith guys,keep the faith.

  13. Radamel Falcao García, 19 goals in 25 games in all competitions, and more!!. we must be careful, he’s not only a great goalscorer, he’s a good pivot and very dangeorus in the air.

  14. hey guy u said arshavin has been playing quite well..u a complete has he been playing well? wasting chances, aint got no defense,no assist..u better watch ur games well enough b4 writing blogs

  15. @Evo in oz, pls, pls, pls, please read again. Stick to what was said. And Toure would make the mid field far stronger than it is at moment. Other than Senders most would make squad far stronger.

  16. I agree that the Arsenal exit from the FC Cup is somewhat of a blessing for our prep for this CL game but what is the FA Cup without Arsenal in it? It is empty. Seeing that the teams that are left are ‘thin’ on top class talent it’s a shame we did not put out our best 11 to win the match. Granted, sometimes our second 11 does the business but it’s the FA Cup!

    On the CL game, Porto will take it to us and this may work out well for this away leg. Whatever the score, if we can grab two away goals, I think we should progress.

  17. For me i think Theo definity got the heart. you can tell he wants to play 100%. I think the teamates dont trust him, you can tell they hardly pass the ball to him. I think he is worth working on.
    Denilson can fuck off all i care. We needed a new holding mid. Song and Diaby are good. We need a third one, i think ramsey would be good but he needs to step up.
    For does who think arshavin been playing bad i think you are naive. First he isnt a striker, you cant expect him to score 5 to 10 goals. He is Mid. I aint mad at him at all, i am more pissed off that we didnt have proper strikers. Eduardo aint a striker hes to fucking slow. Arshavin played really well to hes skill, he hold up the ball well distributed well,he became a bit greedy which is good in a striker.

    The highlight package of Chamack makes me fell excited. Yet i want to win this year and next year.

  18. Porto is a team not to take likely. Porto are an excellent team packed with brasilian maestros. Its going to be epic.
    I always loved HULK wat an awsome name for a soccer player. Commonly would associate with rugby players.

  19. I reckon the slower pace of the ECL will suit Denilson better than the PL. I think he is better than a lot of you lot give him credit for but not quite at the level we need week in week out when we play high tempo physical teams.

    Would settle for a score draw v Porto but a win would be more relaxing! Watching the Gooners this season is doing nothing for my blood pressure.

    Great blog BTW. Only discovered it a month or two ago and enjoy your passion and balanced views. keep it up!

  20. I think all of u hav a poin. A draw in porto and away goal is a good result. AW should strengthen our md. We need sm nod like song and a good backup for Gallas and Vamelen not silvester or Campbel.

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