Arsene Wenger spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ewood park and the questions were mostly transfer market with a chance of Theo and a smattering of match preview. But, before I get into all that, tomorrow is the very first 7am kickoff of the season! That’s 7am local time and since the only channel in the States that is offering the match is Setanta, I will be posted at Doyle’s (link on the right) tomorrow morning. See you there if you’re one of the locals — or if you’re in town!
Wenger on Supermaket Forces
Wenger and I are of the same mind on this one. How is it that City can come out and say that they will be offering £135m to Ronaldo in January without their being some kind of inquest by the FA? How is that not tampering with the player? And before you non-Arsenal readers (I have a few) point out, as the press did a while ago, that Wenger mentioned Barry and that somehow that’s the same thing. It’s not. You’re full of it. What Man U did with Berbatov and what City are trying to do right now with every player in the league is despicable. Arsene Wenger mentioning that Barry is a good player is a world apart from City saying that they will make a £135m bin, in January, for Ronaldo. The boss, as always put it best:
Football is not a supermarket, we have to all understand that. You cannot come out and say ‘we pay £250,000-a-week to Ronaldo and £135million’, when the player has a six-year contract with Manchester United. It is not possible or acceptable.
Why bother have contracts at all?
His broader point though is even more important, and that is that there’s a destabilizing effect that money like ADUG is tossing around has on all aspects of the game. Already rumors are flying that Wenger will have to up Walcott’s salary to keep the flies off him next season. That right there is the epitome of destabilization: the kid scored one hat trick in one international game and the next day there’s talk of having to work a new contract to keep him at Arsenal.
You only need to look as far as City’s new signing, Robinho, and his confusion over what team he really signed for in order to see the end product of this destabilization.
More than just about any other day this year, tomorrow’s team is going to be a mystery. First, the promised debut of new signing Silvestre may have to wait until Wendesday and I won’t be surprised if the guy gets moved back another few days on Tuesday as well — not that this is a pattern with this player or anything.
Also doubtful is Samir Nasri, who may have some kind of knee injury. The club is being vague, only saying that whatever it was that kept him out of the France match may rule him out for tomorrow.
Rosicky was slated to return this month and was, by all reports, doing splendidly in his recovery. Then Czech coach Petr Rada spilled the beans and told the world that Rosicky’s knee failed him again. I will be shocked if we ever again see this player on the pitch in an Arsenal uniform.
Obviously, Eduardo cannot play yet, but Diaby might get a start tomorrow and in his favored central midfield role. I’m really interested to see 1) how Diaby handles the role; can he tackle without being reckless? can he hold back his attacking instincts? does he have that sort of “spider sense” that the defensive midfielder needs? and 2) will he play the whole 90 minutes without injury?
Which just leaves “rotation” as the reason that a lot of players will or will not see action tomorrow. Fabregas is fresh, having only played a 1/4 of an hour on Wednesday, so I fully expect him to anchor the midfield. Depending on the fitness of Nasri, Theo could (and should) be left out of the squad tomorrow so that he can be fresh for Wendesday.
This means that I fully expect Eboue on the right side of midfield and if Arsenal.com’s “Key Battles” is any indication then both Gallas and Sagna will start in defense.
The other two defensive positions are up to the fitness of Silvestre, which means that Toure and Clichy will almost certainly play.
Up front we will see Adebayor (since he didn’t play for fear of death) and his partner will likely be RvP to start with Bendtner coming off the bench; Vela is out because it took too long for him to return from the Americas.
Given all of this, don’t be surprised to see a very strange lineup tomorrow.
Blackburn have proven to be a tough opponent even if Arsenal have run rough shod over them in the last handfull of matches (knock on wood) and I expect that new boss Paul Ince will have them up for the challenge tomorrow. Given the number of players Arsenal had out on Internationals and the fact that they haven’t had a practice together in a week and a half, I am nervous about this game. Arsenal haven’t had a chance to really gell yet and this latest international “break” could set that back a little. Plus, all the injuries and just plain tired legs… ugh.
Meanwhile Blackburn are coming off a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of West Ham and have had a week and a half to prepare for this game. They should be fresh and focused and Arsenal will be tired and distracted, so I’m going to say that a draw would be a good result for Arsenal, a win would be more than we should expect and a loss is not unreasonable.