Wenger in chatty mood as Arsenal prepare for Prague

Antonio Puerta (1984-2007)Antonio Puerta (1984-2007)

Before I move onto Arsenal news I would like to take some time to reflect on the death of 22-year-old Spanish footballer Antonio Puerta, who passed away yesterday after failing to recover from the multiple heart attacks he suffered during his club side Sevilla’s match against Getafe on the weekend. I do not personally know too much about Puerta as a player or a man but on reading the news that he was expecting his first child in October, this really was a tragedy. The reactions of some of his teammates – Andreas Hinkel, for example – really say it all. I strongly encourage you to read the wise words of Arseblogger and his comments on Puerta’s death and hope that the incident can help shed some insight into the things that really matter in your own lives.

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Adriano is a top player, but a loan deal is not the right optionWenger on Adriano…

A massive day in Arsenal-related news is kicked off by the revelation from manager Arsene Wenger that he turned down the opportunity to sign Brazilian and Inter Milan striker Adriano. Wenger admitted that Arsenal were presented with opportunity to bring Adriano to the club on loan but refused to do so because the Italian club requested a player that the manager did not want to lose.

‘The agreement was for a loan. They wanted to give us a player but wanted one back in return. I won’t say who it was. I didn’t want to lose the player they requested. It is nothing to do with the quality of Adriano, but I already have Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo and Nicklas Bendtner to play through the middle.”

There is no doubting the fact that Adriano is an absolutely immense player when on his game but he has been unsettled for some time now and would take a little while to settle in. It seems to me like Inter Milan just want to send the big fellow away for a season to get his head right and then reap the benefits when the loan deal runs out. Much as I would love to see Adriano running riot in an Arsenal shirt the reality is that he would be far more likely to hit his best form when he returned to Italy. If, however, the club offered to sell Adriano to the club on a permanent basis, I would be much more positive about him joining. As it is, the offer is a loan and in that regard I think Wenger has made a good decision for the club. The other point of interest in this story is who the mystery player is that Inter Milan requested, but I’ll it leave the readers of the blog to speculate about this. 

These are worrying times for Jens Lehman…and Lehmann…

Wenger also had a few things to say about the goalkeeping situation at the club. As you know, Jens Lehmann has been dropped/injured from the squad following two poor goalkeeping errors/an achilles tendon injury, and Spaniard Manuel Almunia has been filling in for the time being. However, the Arsenal manager has hinted that Lehmann’s time as the club’s first choice goalkeeper could be over if Almunia continues to perform at a high level.

“I brought him here four years ago and made him our number one. Since then he has always been number one. But saying Jens will be first choice when he gets back from injury is asking me to say that no matter how well Almunia plays, he will always be dropped for Jens. You can never say that to a player because it means his performance is not important.”

I don’t think there are too many people who who disagreee with Wenger’s comments. If Almunia performs well during his time in the first team then I don’t think there is any reason why he should be replaced by Lehmann after a certain period of time. I really feel that despite Lehmann’s obvious talents as a goalkeeper, he does need some time out of the side. Equally, I feel that Almunia deserves a decent run in the starting team. He has been as patient as any goalkeeper around during his time on the bench and proven to be more than adequate when previously given the chance – the shaky start to his Arsenal career excluded. There was word yesterday that Lehmann was on his out of the club in a huff but – somewhat predictably – this turned out to be blatant speculation, with Wenger confirming that the German will stay and fight for his place in the team.

Rosicky needs to stay fit to have a big season for Arsenal…and Rosicky…

There is little doubt that Tomas Rosicky was well below his best last season with injury wrecking the Czech midfielder’s chance to build into a consistent run of good form. However, manager Wenger is convinced that Rosicky can steer clear of injuries this time around and complete a great season for the club, despite the Czech international still not at full fitness.

“I think that Tomas still is not [yet] at his optimum shape. The most important thing for him now is to play game after game and avoid injuries. I am convinced that Tomas will have a great season this year.”

The big issue over this statement is whether or not Rosicky can in fact avoid injury. The guy is obviously a good footballer but his slight frame has seen him prone to knocks on a regular occasion and this has massively disrupted his progress as an Arsenal player. It is clear that Wenger sees him as the club’s permanent left midfielder and if he can build into some form and steer clear of the Fredrik Ljungberg-esqe injury problems then it is not unforseeable that he could become one of the stars of the season. But I just get the feeling that staying fit for long periods may be too much to ask a player who has been so injury-prone over his time at the club.

Is Djourou now Arsenal’s third-choice central defender?…and Djourou

Wenger completed his big day in front of the media by explaining his decision to loan out Johan Djourou to Birmingham City despite the club’s apparent lack of depth in central defence. With Klo Toure leaving for the African Cup of Nations in January, Wenger is hoping that Djourou can get some much needed first-team football to ensure that the Swiss defender is able to adapt quickly when he returns from his loan spell. Wenger also mentioned that he was not worried about the lack of depth as he felt that both Gilberto Silva and Cameroonian youngster Alexandre Song could fill in when required.

“I knew when Djourou left that Alex Song can play in there and Gilberto has played in there already. I wanted him to be experienced. I know Kolo will go in January [to the African Nations Cup] and I want Johan to play.”

It does make sense when you think about it. Djourou should return from Birmingham a better player, and Wenger will be more confident in the defender’s ability to immediately slot back into the side in Toure’s absence. Wenger’s comments also raise an interesting point: is Djourou now ahead of Philippe Senderos in the pecking order? The feel of the comments suggests that if William Gallas is fit, it will be Djourou and not Senderos who replaces Toure in the starting team. There is obviously a lot of time between now and then and anything could happen but I just get the sneaking suspicion that Wenger favours Djourou over his fellow countryman as a long-term prospect.

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It will be Arsenal celebrating again after the second legArsenal v Sparta Prague Match Preview

Arsenal go into the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Czech side Sparta Prague with a two goal advantage and the news that Philippe Senderos is back in the squad. Senderos injured his ankle in the warm-up to Arsenal’s last Premier League fixture against Manchester City and did not feature in the match, but the injury was not as bad as previously thought and the big Swiss defender looks set to start against the Czech champions. Another player who was hurt against Manchester City, Bacary Sagna, was not so lucky and will miss the match due to a back injury caused by a collision with teammate Mathieu Flamini. Ironically, it will most likely be Flamini who slots in at right-back due to an ankle injury to Sagna’s usual replacement, Emmanuel Eboue, although Justin Hoyte may also stake a claim.

Despite Arsenal holding a dominating lead going into the home tie, Sparta Prague’s manager Michal Bilek believes his side can overturn the deficit and qualify for the group stages of the Champions League. Although Bilek admitted that the match will be difficult he suggested that his side can take encouragement from the performance Fulham gave against Arsenal in their first Premier League match of the season.

“Fulham showed how to play at Emirates. They played an even game with Arsenal. They went into the lead in the first minute and Arsenal turned the score with a big luck at the end.”

Can anyone see a problem with this? Anyone who actually watched the Fulham game? That’s right, Bilek has got things around the wrong way. To my recollection it was actually Fulham who got the ‘a big luck’ and Arsenal who dominated the match. Can’t remember? Maybe this will jog your memory. Either way, I can’t see a way back for the Czech side. They looked quite sharp in the first leg but the chances of them scoring two and Arsenal failing to score are so low that I’d almost call it inconceivable. The way to trouble Arsenal is to play defensively and hit on the counter and I doubt very much whether Wenger’s side will be naive enough to fall for that trick with a 2-0 buffer going into the match. Sparta Prague will need to attack Arsenal and that should leave big gaps at the back for the likes of Robin van Persie, Emmanel Adebayor and Alexander Hleb to exploit. So far I’ve tipped all four Arsenal results this season and I’ll try and continue my run by going for 2-0 to the home side with Adebayor grabbing his first of the season.

What do you think?

Have your say on Antonio Puerta or any Arsenal news by leaving a comment.



  1. antonio puerta rip
    he was an excellent player, had a big future, there was also talk about arsene being interested last season.

  2. Puerta was gonna be a world beater, it’s such a shame.

    Our league is doing so well, although I’m not doing so great, and SF a bit worse:

    Arsenal FC Blog
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  3. Also, there are millions of people signed up to our ff league, how many people read this blog and don’t comment?

  4. I guess I’m one of those guilty of reading but never commenting – you all seem to have a better perspective than me about inner workings of the club. Anyone know where I can catch a live gamecast (not TV or radio, I’m at work) of the match today besides the arsenal site? Keep up the good blogging!

  5. May Puerta’a soul rest in eternal peace..
    a few minutes before kick off and all i can think of is: will adebayor get his first for the season? my fingers are crossed! nice viewing everyone 🙂

  6. I really hope AW will play Ade partner Dudu in the strike force. Don’t risk RvP to the injury as we know Sparta is going to play physical game again. My prediction 3-0. 2 goals from Dudu & another one from Fab, Hleb or Rosicky. Go go go Gunner go go Gunner.

  7. We can’t take the risk of not playing our best side. This is a Champions League qualifier and if Arsenal take this too lightly and don’t qualify it would be a disaster. Not playing van Persie would be arrogant and irresponsible.

  8. Starting line-up for the match:

    GK: Almunia
    RB: Hoyte
    CB: Senderos
    CB: Toure
    LB: Clichy
    RM: Walcott
    CM: Gilberto
    CM: Diaby
    LM: Rosicky
    CF: van Persie
    CF: Eduardo

  9. May Antonio’s soul rest in peace….i would like bendtender to start with RVP…..it will be wonderful if the big dane is given a chance to start

  10. Hey Spanish fry i ve been following this blog for a long time……i m a crazy gooner fan….

  11. 3-0.. Rosicky, Fabragas, and Da Silva all scoring. The best game we’ve played all season, the defence did great, only one real mistake at the back, but they still didnt score. Walcott was impressive as well as Da Silva. They played great team football and actually scored goals. The ruthlessness around goal that Wenger talks about showed up today. Lets just hope they can carry that into league play.

  12. I comment here occasionally even though you didn’t include me in your list. 🙂

  13. A injured Lehmann could have kept a clean sheet today….. Wenger in goal could have kept a clean sheet. The defence was the best it has been so far this season. It didnt give them any really good chances, and the lack of finishing saw the best chance for them sail over goal. The midfield controled very well, kept pressure off the defence for the most part. Sparta had no chance from the begining to the end.

  14. I predicted Arsenal to win 3 – 0 yesterday on wwww.arseblog.com . I agree many people read this blogg but don’t comment. I have found this blogg to have serious fans who comprehensively comment on football matters round the globe rather than some of the jokers i see on other bloggs especially http://www.arseblog.com . Spanish fry is also very informative with updates of Arsenal news.

    Lets wait for the Portsmouth game and Walcot, RVP and Dudu should start again with Adebayor & Bendter coming in later as substitutes.


  15. i was really happy eduardo got on the scoring sheet. he actually played really well when adebayor came on.
    i think him and van persie both left footed, the balance is not there, but adebayor when he came on he drifted wide, i think arsenal were playing 4-3-3.

  16. A good performace from arsenal. 3-0 win. An emotional goal for Rosicky, and our midfield is scoring!! Fab-3, Hleb-2, Rosicky-1. Da Silva scored on his european debut. Almunia – 2 games, 2 goals. A lot of things to say. Senderos was very shaky last night and he didn’t play very well. Luckily their strike force wasn’t good enough to get past a bottle of water. Walcott impressed me a lot last night. All those runs he made, using his speed a lot more. Da Silva assisted and scored a goal as well so it was a good noght for him. Fab had been subbed on, 5 mins later, he scored. Good Game! Bring on the group stages.

  17. Match was great last night. Atmosphere was better.. night games always bring out a bit more of the crazy… Seemed like after we scored the first that Sparta new the game was over. They seemed happy to let us control the ball. Regardless, we played well and thoroughly deserved the win. Sendy’s concentration got the better of him a few times, which is a worry and somewhat uncharacteristic. Clichy was also guilty of a few lapses as well. His man got behind him a few times.. Diaby looked like he hasnt polayed in awhile. Got caught in posession too often, then made a clumsy challenge to get the ball back. Still one of my favs, he just needs time on the pitch. So Vieria like the way he lumbers around the pitch, just with an extra burst of pace. Theo started well, then faded as his touch could keep up with his pace. He made an aggressive challenge late ibn the game and I shouted “FINALLY!!”. Not for the card or the late tackle, but for the fact a rwed mist fell over him for a second. If he can channel that into his game, then he will make a great leap forward. The same fire Rooney and Ronaldo see(with a few less reds of course).. the fire all the greats have. Bergy, Paddy.. list could go on for ever. I would like to see him play with more ego. Not such that it would be a detriment t0o the team, but just a bit. I digress… Almunia did well on the rare occasion he was needed, even a funny late corner that deflected off Hoyte.. All in all, a good performance and another 3-0 at Emirates!

  18. It’s good to see Denilson play but i think Bendtner should’ve started instead of RVP. We should g=have rested him but we won the game, group stages to be announced in 2 1/2 hours!

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