October 16, 2012
It’s the last set of international fixtures of the year tonight and while I’m obviously on tenterhooks waiting for the Faroe Islands Vs Republic of Ireland match and desperately looking for a stream for Andorra Vs Estonia (do help me out in the comments), I’ll admit that there is a small part of me that’s looking forward to getting back to some Premier League football.
So far we haven’t suffered too badly in terms of injuries. Obviously Theo’s knock was a blow but he should be back in a couple of weeks all being well and there are still some slight concerns over Laurent Koscielny’s knee but not enough to keep him out of contention for tonight. We’ll just have to hope that the rest of the squad comes through tonight’s round of games because a quick glance at the fixture list reminds us that we’re going to need them.
In the remaining ten weeks of the year we’ve got 19 games to cram in so it promises to be fairly relentless and while we seem well stocked in most areas that’s really going to be put to the test in the next couple of months. There are certain players who are bound to pick up injuries and others who we’re just going to need to rest at some point. Santi Cazorla is top of that list for me. While it’s only right and proper that now he’s at Arsenal the world seems to have woken up to his undeniable talent it also means that he seems to be featured far more for his national side of late. He played on Friday and he may well make an appearance against France tonight.
He’s barely had a breather since joining the club and at some point that’s likely to take his toll, either on his performances as a whole or on his likelihood to pick up an injury. We should be guarding against that and looking for opportunities to rotate. Tricky when he’s such a revelation as a player and the majority of our attacking play goes through him, but necessary nonetheless.
If Jack Wilshere completes his return from injury as we all hope he will then maybe he’ll be able to offer Santi some respite. On that front it’s good to hear that the club have finally arranged that training ground friendly for him to continue his comeback. We’ll play Chelsea behind closed doors tomorrow and Jack, Bac and (can his nickname be Craic?) Frimpong are all expected to feature to varying degrees. Wilshere managed an hour in his first game and 72 minutes in his second so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s aiming for the full 90 tomorrow. If that’s the case he’ll have to be thinking about a place on the first team bench pretty soon. Norwich might come too soon for him but the home game against Schalke next Wednesday seems almost a certainty.
If he’s fit to start against Spain tonight then Laurent Koscielny is likely to have a busy one up against their attacking might. He’s had a hit and miss season so far, firstly failing to find a spot ahead of Mertesacker and Vermaelen and then failing to cover himself in a whole lot of glory when he did come back against Chelsea. Still, we know what a fine defender he can be and it seems the rest of the world is catching up to that fact too. Marcel Desailly is the latest to heap praise:
I love to see a lot of Koscielny; the player has massive workforce and is the defensive leader of the team. He has good leg speed, which reminds me of Lilian [Thuram]. He can become one of the best defenders in the world; he has a level of Vidic or Pique.
Praise indeed. And that should be the headline following Kozzer around this morning. Unfortunately, and predictably, he’s getting more attention for his comments about Luis Suarez in an interview with L’Equipe:
A striker that I hate to mark? Luis Suarez. He is hard to take. He cheats, pulls your shirt and gives you little kicks. You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be red carded.
I’m sure none of the above would be news to anyone who watches football or who plays it but I’m not sure Kozzer’s doing himself too many favours by coming out with this stuff. He was obviously asked a question and he’s answered it honestly but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Arsenal ‘communications team’ are in touch this week with a reminder to respond to any questions in the most dull, uncontroversial way possible:
‘Dear Laurent. We’ve taken a look at your comments about Luis Suarez. We have a few suggestions. How about the following?
“A striker that I hate to mark? Luis Suarez. He is hard to
take mark. He cheats is very professional, pulls your shirt plays for the shirt and gives you little kicks lots to think about. You always want to give him a kick round of applause but you have to be careful not to be red carded completely in awe of his talent.”
Kozzer’s pretty much guaranteed a hot reception next time we rock up at Anfield as I’m sure the Liverpool fans will react in horror at any suggestion that Suarez is anything but a straight down the line honest as the day is long footballer and I’m sure the media will be dredging up these comments at any given opportunity to add a bit of unnecessary controversy to the match.
But then if Koscielny’s happy with that I say good luck to him.
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