In his post-SC Columbia interview, Wenger talked exclusively with Arsenal TV Online and the interview, though brief, gave fans some insight into what happened with Samir Nasri, his expectations for Bendtner next year, and why Senderos played as a holding midfielder last night.
There has been a ton of speculation that Diaby tackled Nasri and broke his leg but the boss explained that Nasri’s leg was broken when some other player (he didn’t say who) was having a shot on goal and Samir nicked the ball away. He went on to explain that it’s not a horrible injury and Samir will only be out for 6 weeks. That’s only 2 weeks into the regular season and not nearly the blow that many had thought.
In the interview, Wenger was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing but I’m still of the mind that losing Nasri is a pretty big blow. Obviously, not of the magnitude of losing, say, Cesc in January when half the guys are away at the ACN, but it’s an important time none-the-less. Nasri is a rare talent who can challenge a lot of guys for a lot of different places on the team and as I say all the time, competition for places on the squad makes the whole team better. Having a young guy like Samir in the team, a guy who’s hungry to establish himself as a star on a big club like Arsenal is going to push others around him, like Arshavin, Diaby, and Walcott, to step up their games. Which only makes the whole team better.
Well, I say Diaby, but the boss sees Nasri more as an attacking player and when asked about cover for his spot instead mentioned Eduardo and Rosicky. I think a lot of folks forget that Dudu played on the left a number of times before he was injured. It’s the Arsenal way, innit? Play guys out of position? Irregardless, the point here is that Wenger sees Nasri as pretty much an attacking player and as I pointed out during the whole Adebayor debacle, attacking players are not something we’re short of, as evidenced by the fact that Sunderland is most likely Chamakh’s destination. I’m kind of glad about this last bit, he really seemed more like a project than the kind of polished Arsenal player that we need next year.
Another attacking player that a lot of folks overlook is Nicky Bendtner. Wenger said he wants Nicklas Bendtner to start challenging for a regular place on the team and I can actually see Nicky taking over from Adebayor this season. If you look at the year before Adebayor broke out (in diamond plated wrist watches) he scored an unimpressive 12 goals for club and country in 50 matches. Last season, our young Nicky scored 18 goals and had 9 assists in 66 matches (28 of which were as a sub). If he works hard, he’s going to get a lot of starts and if all the pieces around him are healthy, he’s going to have a lot of players who can feed him the ball, so I think a target of 20 league goals (more than doubling his haul of last year) is reasonable.
Now, I know he’s a divisive player and many supporters would rather Arsene buy Huntelaar because he’s the best goal scorer in the history of mankind, but let’s face facts: Wenger has groomed Nicklas to get him to this point and we all know how loyal Wenger is to his projects. So, you might as well go ahead and get off the Huntelaar wagon and get on the Nicky wagon now.
That way when he scores 25 goals you can say “I told you so” and “I’ve always been a huge fan of Bendtner, I thought he would be better than Huntelaar.”
The other big, huge, earth shaking, (did I mention huge?) revelation is that Phillipe Senderos is on his way out. Arsene said, in no uncertain terms, that Senderos has several offers and needs to decide on his future. This explains why Senderos was playing in the holding midfield role yesterday; Wenger needs to keep his fitness up, but doesn’t want to play him in the center of defense because he needs to solidify Vermaelen with his potential partners.
I’m sad to see Senderos go, I really thought he was going to be an important player for Arsenal when he had his break out season a few years ago. That said, Arsenal central defenders have it much harder than a lot of other squads. As the announcers mentioned in the 7-1 win over SC Columbia, yesterday, Arsenal’s attacking formation and high line leave them particularly vulnerable to over the top balls, and long outlet passes to a single central attacker: last year Robbie Keane did it, Agbonlahor did it, and Drogba’s done it a number of times, to name a few. This pressure is clearly difficult for these defenders to handle emotionally: we’ve lost Senderos, Campbell, Gallas buckled a bit, and we nearly lost Toure last year.
So, it’s quite sad to see Senderos go. In a different formation, if we played more of the style that Arsenal used to play, Senderos could have been a great asset. But as it stands we don’t, and he isn’t, and so he’s got to go. Best of luck big fella.
The players are now entering their “hard work” phase where they will train twice daily until they play again on Monday. Cesc has flown in and brought some giant balls with him. What? Those balls are for training! So, it’s looking like (nearly, minus Nasri) the whole squad are together and ready to kick start the season. Like I said, the next match is Monday, then there’s a match on Wednesday and after that? Athletico at the Emirates and two weeks before the start of the season.
I’m getting excited!
Oh yeah, one last thing… why is it that Newcastle are such c*nts that they get in a bench clearing brawl in a pre-season friendly? Can someone explain that to me? I don’t get it.