12th November 2015: FA want Wenger explanation, Welbz can’t wait for return, Grimaldo linked

Welcome back. Some actual news to begin with this evening after the FA today asked Arsene Wenger to explain recent comments he made in an interview with French publication L’Equipe regarding ‘doping’ in football.

The gist of his remarks, as I’m sure you’ll have read by now, were that whilst he was proud that in 30 years as a manager he’d never had his players injected to make them better, he has faced teams who were “not in that frame of mind.”

Those comments were of course made some time after it was revealed a Dinamo Zagreb player had failed a drugs test following the Croatian club’s Champions League victory over Arsenal in September this year, and the FA have now invited the boss to expand on those remarks and provide any further information he may have.

An FA Spokesman is quoted as saying today:

The FA, in conjunction with United Kingdom Anti-Doping (Ukad), operates one of the most comprehensive anti-doping testing programmes in the world. We have exceptionally few cases of positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, which reflects the findings from drug-testing in football worldwide. All positive cases for Wada-prohibited substances are published by Ukad and the FA.

Now I have to admit, I’m far from the foremost authority on this subject, but it does make you wonder about performance-enhancing, and even recovery-speeding, drug use in the game. Some players never seem to get injured whilst others are perennially prone to spells out. Is that always down to nature, or sometimes, to a science lab? Who knows, but I’m certainly looking forward to hearing Arsene expand on the subject as the FA have asked him to.

Elsewhere, contrary to reports I discussed in yesterday’s post suggesting Danny Welbeck had suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury and may be ruled out for the rest of the season, the player himself has told Arsenal Player that his recovery is “slow and steady but it’s coming along”, and that he’s chomping at the bit to make a return to action. He said:

It’s slow and steady but it’s coming along. It’s difficult to see the lads when you’re still in the gym, doing double days, but once I get back out on the pitch and start running I will be much happier. It’s a difficult period for me but I’m looking forward to coming back strong. I want to get back out on the pitch, keep on improving, keep training and keep fit – that’s the main thing. I just want to get back to playing football. I’m trying to build to muscle and it’s hard, but it’s something that I’ve grasped with two hands and I’m really looking forward to my return.

He certainly sounds bullish, which is encouraging considering how long he’s been out for now, and as you may have guessed from yesterday’s post, I can’t wait to see him back playing and having an extended run as our central striker.

The worry for Welbz must be that seeing as we were obviously looking for a new striker last summer, unless he can prove his worth between now and the end of the season, he may find himself competing with Oliver Giroud, Theo Walcott and a new signing by the start of next season. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch how we line up if and when everybody is fit.

Finally for today, The Mirror have linked us with a move for Barcelona B left-back and captain Alex Grimaldo, who they say is reluctant to extend his current deal with the Catalans which expires this coming summer, but who is also being eyed up by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.

I’ve never seen him play live but having just YouTube’d him (classy, and with a speed of thinking that is typically quick for Barcelona players), and based on how our recruitment from Barcelona has gone over the years, I say sign him up Arsene!

If he’s free and willing, why the hell not? Maybe you can mould him into a defensive midfielder, a centre-half or even tap into previously unnoticed goalkeeping potential. Plus, most importantly of all, his surname’s just two letters away from Grimandi, the Gunners’ double Double-winning legend.

Right, a bit short today but that’s me done.

See you on Friday.

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