14th October 2015: Early Watford team news + Wenger on playing away

Welcome back. So the internationals are finally over, after lasting for what seemed like an eternity, and as we look forward to Saturday’s trip to Watford, Arsene Wenger has revealed some early team news to the official site.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are back in full training, Laurent Koscielny has a test to see if he’s ready after the hamstring strain that kept him out of our win over Manchester United, and Alexis Sanchez, who was substituted late in that game with a groin strain, yet still went on to play both games and score three times for Chile, has texted Arsene to say he’s fine.

Speaking of our south American superstar, reports have emerged recently that Real Madrid would like to tempt him back to Spain. Firstly, can I just ask Madrid to kindly f*ck the f*ck off – all due respect. We’re readying a new contract for Alexis, and as he said in his press conference after Chile’s last game, he’s very happy in north London.

Secondly, I hear there’s a decent player who plays in the same position over in west London. According to many (Chelsea fans), he’s the best player in England. Go take a look Florentino. Thirdly, remember Karim Benzema and how we waited all summer to sign him and you happily strung us along before refusing to sell? So do we.

I have to say, the mere thought of us selling Sanchez fills me with more dread than I ever felt when the likes of Fabregas, Van Persie or Nasri were about to leave, mainly because the Chilean’s a better player, harder worker and all-round superior human being than that trio of turncoats.

Moving on and Arsene has followed up on talk of scientific studies into home advantage by speaking a little about away form. Interestingly, the boss revealed he asks his scouts for reports on how any potential new signing plays on his travels before making up his mind. He told Arsenal Player:

You could say it’s linked more to bravery – your character is more tested away from home. At home you feel the players are a bit more protected. But what I say to my scouts is, ‘Watch this player for me, but watch him in an away game.’ You want to know how he behaves away from home because usually at home you will be all right. If a scout comes to me and says he has found a good player, I ask where he saw him. If it was at home, I tell them to go and watch them away as well because it’s a better test of their character, their bravery and their desire. Once a player is good away from home, you can say you will consider him.

As I said, interesting. But you’d hope that if Lionel Messi ever becomes attainable for Arsenal, the fact he’s performed far better at the Nou Camp against English teams than away, wouldn’t prevent us from making a bid. Because that would be stupid. Messi’s almost as good as Alexis. Almost.

Finally for today, Petr Cech has been speaking about his favourite save in an Arsenal shirt, which came against Liverpool at Emirates stadium, telling Arsenal Player:

[My favourite was] probably the first one against Benteke because Gabriel tried to intercept the ball when he ran across the goal, and until the last fraction of a second I didn’t know whether he was going to touch it or not. I had to wait and I also knew that Benteke was already there. I thought, ‘OK I have to wait to see if he deflects it towards his own goal or whether it will go anywhere else’, and then I knew that I would have to go fast to the other side. I was lucky that I had perfect timing to get there. Taking information before the situation happens helps. I knew he was running there so I knew that the moment Gabriel missed the ball I had to get there as fast as possible. It’s the awareness that I had two options; to wait and then as soon as the ball went past him, knowing that I had to get there. I was ready for that so as soon as I saw that he would not touch the ball I had already gone. Maybe it’s a bit of experience, but I would say it’s taking the information prior to the situation. That was the key in this moment.

It’s been said before but Cech comes across as a very smart cookie indeed and after a shaky start against West Ham on the opening day of the season, he’s starting to show his true class, making vital saves, like from Martial in our last game.

To be honest, I still can’t believe we signed him, or rather, Chelsea let him leave. Our ‘only’ buy this summer could still prove to be the best bit of business done by any club in the last window.

Til Thursday.

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