Squad surprises a-plenty as Arsenal prepare for Birmingham

Arsene Wenger held his usual Thursday afternoon press conference yesterday and revealed all about the state of the squad for the coming weekend and beyond.

In short, Nicklas Bendtner and Kieran Gibbs will be back in the squad; Theo Walcott is an outside chance to be involved and is looking sharp; Manuel Almunia is out for a few more days; Cesc Fabregas is short and will probably be saved for Manchester City; Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna are out for at least ten days; while Robin van Persie will not return until next month.

I must say I am surprised about the continued absence of Fabregas and Vermaelen – I had expected both to feature against Birmingham – while the news of van Persie’s extended absenteeism is extremely disappointing. Just what is wrong with this man?

While it is no doubt an exhausting list of casualties to trawl through but the important thing to note is that we are leaving the international break in significantly better shape than we started it.

Bendtner has not been free of injury since October 2009

The manager’s comments that he believe we will finally see Bendtner play to his full capacity after his niggling groin problems are most welcome. Since putting in a storming opening half-hour before going off injured with a troubled groin in our 3-0 win over Spurs back in October 2009, Bendtner has been unable to put a serious run of games together and stamp his authority on the starting team. With Marouane Chamakh being solely depended on to lead the line in the opening stages of the season the return of Bendtner will be an important one.

It is also good to see Gibbs back in contention. The young Englishman has starred in the games he has started this season, culminating in a Man of the Match performance against Spurs in the Carling Cup, and his return will put some welcome pressure on Gael Clichy at left-back. Upon hearing the news of Gibbs’ foot problem I voiced my disappointment that his push for a starting berth had been dealt another setback, but hopefully the Englishman can get back to his best soon and give Wenger something to think about.

Despite the return of Bendtner and Gibbs the starting line-up is likely to be quite predictable.

Lukasz Fabianski should start in goals behind a back four of Emmanuel Eboue, Sebastien Squillaci, Laurent Koscielny and Gael Clichy. In midfield Alex Song will be fresh after being rested by Cameroon and is likely to be supported by two of Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere and Denilson. Up front Chamakh should start, supported by Andrey Arshavin on the left (if he is deemed sharp enough after two games with Russia) and Tomas Rosicky or Samir Nasri on the right.

It’s brilliant to have the real football back again after what was a fairly tame international break. Our boys have a job to do to bounce back from losing their last two games but at home, at The Emirates, you have to fancy them to do it.

More tomorrow including any last-minute team changes.


Have your say on Arsenal v Birmingham by leaving a comment.



  1. OK this is very strange and surprising to see Fabregas and Vermalen not making it to the game on Saturday, wenger has also said that Fabregas maybe short for the CL, which i think he should play to at least get some game time, he keeps declaring himself fit (same as in the case with rooney) but the manager deemed him as not fit which i really dont know whats going around there. Either wenger doesn’t think of Birmingham as that bigger threat + the fact we are at home he hasn’t include fabregas or wat i dont know. RVP this guy is really starting to irritate me now, he plays the each and every game of the WC, and here he just doesn’t want to come back, i think it is familiar to not see him for half a season. Good to hear though Bendtner and Gibbsy back in contention, along with Walcott, althought the main men as in Vermalen, ramsey, fabregas, and RVP would sound a lot more better.. this sucks..

  2. Nothing much has changed. [for this game atleast]. But I think we should be able to win this game fairly comfortably.

  3. strange. fab said he was just 2 days short 4 the chavs and to be honest i m not really surprised about rvp

  4. Wat is all this,bendtner ok,but RVP is losing it.d impact of his absence is 2much 2 bear.wenger shld get a stronger,sharp striker.

  5. i wonder what the problem with rvp is, he was supposed to be out for 3 -4 wks, lets get another striker as back up, i wonder if wellington silva(the guy from flumenese) would fit the bill

  6. I too hope Gibbs get’s some pitch time. I would like to see Bendtner and Chamakh play at the same time. Double your pleasure double your fun :-).

    Party On!

  7. Are you surprised at them or Wenger? He said Vamalin is just achile and not going to take long. Now it has taken one month. RVP is a glass, lets get someone stronger. Bendtner is not worth relying on except if he has changed.

    If i have the opportunity of selling players of arsenal, believe you me i will dissapoint alot of people because i would have sold Diaby before RVP.

    He is like Nigerian electricity. So unstable and fond of dribbling. he is not improving as supposed. What comes to his mind at all point is how to dribble, yet wenger said he is a holding midfield giving away balls and not giving passes.

    How could you imagine that small boy Wilshare is already benching competing with him and even benching him. He should look into his style and improve.

  8. bednter, im not a fan of ths guy, wenger was @ pains to convince us he’s imprving, he best of hm is yet to come.th guy we hv bn missing is Theo,his form was terific. if yu ask me, i would play Denilson ahead of Song.the guy hs not progressed an inch.it explains the bid from panathanaikos, he is aint gd enuf to be in that team

  9. LK is out, according to arsenal.com… Looks like djourou and squillaci will be the center back pairing

  10. Djorou is playing? Not looking good, not looking good at all….pls for once don’t cock up.

  11. As much as i’m concern,arsenal doen’t have wot it take 2 win d EPL or CL, Arsenal need masured players, players dat ar wot rely upon.

  12. it’s also another headache to the fun of the gunners because of cesc fabrigases’ return will be at his performance or not is a great question. also the forward is not perfect to use the balls and score the goals, so there should be one forward player with chamak.at the last why not arsene change the player before 75 minute? as i belive carlos vella can change the result and score goals, if the chance give to him.i wish best victory to GUNNERS and every body never 4get as the day will be the revenge day. 10Q bye bye.

  13. I read that Koscielny will be out with a back problem so we will probably see Djourou at the back with Squillaci. This back line frightens me but hopefully they will be able to pull through with out too many problems.

  14. Hey, I can’ t believe that all we can hear is bad news, bad news and bad news. Also the papers are of full of Fabregas saying, that he’s happy here, but he wants to win trophies. Also mentioning Barcelona and Real Madrid as a solution to that (getting trophies). So the press/he started it again. And damn it I can understand him, but I can just pray to keep him here at Arsenal and we should win to do that. If Arsene does not do something we might see a morale collapse again. My friend keeps saying that SOME of these players just don’t have the fire and don’t want to play that’s why they are injured for such an incredibly long time. Maybe it sounds bad, but I can sense that something is wrong with the team’s mentality/morale. Let’s hope Arsene can sort it out, but in January we have to buy at least 3-4 players and sell the useless ones (I keep saying this, but nobody can deny I’m right, as the stability and the positive, winning mentality is missing from this team). Sorry guys I’m just angry, as I don’t understand this. Why do we have 4 goalkeepers, who are all angry/unhappy (I read about it yesterday or the day before) and only 3 full backs. From this only the weakest/less integrated player is healthy. Why? Is the training style wrong or the medical team are rubbish? Why are all our key players out for such a long time? Why do we have such few key players? Why is the many why’s? Notwithstanding these bad news I’m convinced we will win the Birmingham match. Maybe the secondary palyers will step up. So com on Arsenal and step up the game. Make your supporters happy and proud!!!

  15. @ negash “…at the last why not arsene change the player before 75 minute? as i belive carlos vella can change the result and score goals, if the chance give to him.” Many people say bad about Vela forgetting that he’s never been given a proper chance. I support your idea, as Vela is a player with very good technical skill. If he’s never given enough time how can he prove obvious his talent?

  16. And why do we put Andrey and Gael Clichy together again? It has cost us a lot of goals so far. If they “play together” the defense is under severe pressure. Can somebody explain that to me?

  17. Or did you mean 4-3-3? Because it sounds much better. I’m curious about Denilon. I hope Jack is playing. That would be great.

  18. A lot of fellas here today aren’t confident about tomorrow’s game.maybe it’s high time the lads put up a super display to erase any doubt. Guys, this is not time to doubt wenger and his wards,it’s time to show our support. On cesc,i think his absence is only a precautionary measure.so we will have a fit fab against man $hity.

  19. @ lb God bless you. At least somebody who has some positive mentality. I think we will win today (I never doubted that, but It would be nice to win titles and keep Cesc; personally that’s the only /the thought of losing Cesc/ thing that made me upset today).

  20. I’m not really understanding why he is afraid to play Rosicky and Nasri together, yes I hear what you all say about them being right outside but hell they are not in their natural position anyway…it seems like they all want Cesc’s position in the middle but when they get the opportunity they don’t really control or hold. If Rosicky runs out of gas bring in Diaby, @Femi Jacobs…you kinda sounded like a Diaby hater, he’s technically sound, quicker that Chamkh (which ain’t sayin much), and doesn’t give the rock away. They just don’t seem to have a plan…like a drum circle with guys playing different styles. Arshvavin is our Nani…with worse luck. They have a gathering fear and move with an air of fan pressure that appears the same jacket the England WC squad wore.

  21. Sorry lads but i think we will lose again today. No offence man, but i think our players have lose confidence, after almost half the squad gone injured!

  22. We have to boost our squad – we are having player shortness at the beginning of the season – this usually occurs towards the end – I can’t imagine what will happen next year if we do not buy in January

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