Evening all. Cloid is here, so news is scarce, but thankfully, a few of our players have been speaking about various stuff, not least Sunday’s scintillating showing against Manchester United at Emirates stadium, so let’s take a little look at what they’ve had to say.
First up is vice-captain and one half of the blossoming Petr-Per relationship bringing much needed experience, maturity and security to the team, Per Mertesacker. The German World Cup winner says the Gunners ‘clicked’ defensively against Louis van Gaal’s men, called the win ‘special’ and expressed his hope the team’s confidence is just as high after the international break. He said:
We had a good understanding [defensively]. I think a lot clicked today. If one of us won a duel, the other would be there and that was the same in the second half. If he [Anthony Martial] ran past one of us, which can happen, someone else would be there straight away. It went well from the start and that’s always crucial. When you take your chances and are strong defensively, that’s a clear indicator that you feel good. [Sunday] was just special and then it’s always difficult for your opponents to gain a foothold when they are so far behind after 15 minutes. You could see how much the team wanted to respond [from Olympiacos]. As a team you try and remind yourself of what you can achieve and you could see that we have a lot of confidence. I hope that we can display that again in two weeks.
I suppose on the one hand, the current break from club football allows us to savour a brilliant win for a little longer than usual without the risk of a bad result replacing our joy with a new-found sense of doom. But on the other, there is the worry that any momentum in confidence and performance could be lost before the players reassemble to face Watford a week on Saturday.
Particularly when you factor in the potential for injuries while the players are away with their respective countries. So you can fully appreciate Arsene Wenger’s comments about ‘praying’ for his players to return unscathed because there isn’t much the club can do other than hope for the best and perhaps implore national coaches to look after them and not over-train or over-play our players over the next fortnight.
Alexis Sanchez is already a concern of course, with the groin injury that forced him off late in the second half against United, and although Arsene accepted his star forward would want to play for his country, particularly against a team like Brazil who they face later this week, you’d hope sense would prevail regardless of the player’s desire to play and he’s left out if at risk of making his injury worse.
Elsewhere, Per’s central defensive partner on Sunday, Gabriel, has been speaking to ESPN Brazil about his red card at Chelsea and Diego Costa, the Arsenal fans, wanting to stay a Gunner for a long time and learning from his new team-mates. He said:
As I walked off after being sent off against Chelsea I thought the fans would hate me, but the support was unbelievable. I have been tested by Costa before in Spain, I think he knows that we were causing him issues, but this is life, we move on. God is always fair but I should have listened to my manager and Cech when they said not to react to Costa. We will play again. The Arsenal fans make you realise how big this club is, I will post one picture and my phone will go crazy for 3 days. I want to stay here for a very long time, I don’t speak the language yet but I feel at home and this club is perfect for me. Having two players to learn from like Per and Laurent is a gift from God. I am shadowing them and picking up lots of things. I want to learn more from Laurent he is really good at coming from behind and taking the ball, I’d like to bring that to my game. Cech is a great keeper he talks to me a lot, I have learnt a few phrases that I know he will say, he is a leader.
If his refusal to be bullied by Costa and his eagerness to stand up for team-mates is anything to go by, Gabriel posseses plenty of leadership qualities himself, ones which will only grow the longer he’s at the club and maintaining his level of performance. Not wanting to tempt fate but he’s barely put a foot wrong since arriving in January and as many have observed, seems to relish defending as much as Frank Lampard does deep-fried Mars Bars.
Finally for today, Alex Iwobi, who was so impressive in pre-season when given a chance to travel and play with the first-team squad, has signed a new, long-term contract the club confirmed today.
I’ve only seen him play for us a couple of times, including the game in which he scored against Lyon at the Emirates Cup this summer and my initial thought was that he’s quick, slick and a little more efficient in his distribution than say, Chuba Akpom, has looked at times. Who knows how he’ll develop at this early stage but he’s clearly highly regarded by the club and is part of a long list of very promising young forwards on the books at London Colney.
See you on Wednesday.