Welcome back. As we prepare to host Hull City in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon, Arsene Wenger today provided a fitness update via the official site, with the standout news being Laurent Koscielny is on course to play.
Removed at half-time in our last game against Leicester, Sky reported the defender had sustained a dead leg so to hear the boss say he’s almost ready to return is obviously a big boost as we enter a difficult run of fixtures which includes games against Barcelona and Manchester United.
Arsene also discussed the fitness of Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny, as well as what sort of side he’ll select for the visit of Steve Bruce’s men. He said:
Koscielny is doing well. He has a test this morning and he looks positive. He (Gabriel) is running outside. He is out for Saturday. I will, as always, play a team who has a good chance to qualify. The normal squad is involved on Saturday. It is a normal squad and we’ll play a usual strong team. Elneny is fit. He is one of the players who could get a run [out] there. He’s mobile, he’s a very good player. He’s adapting at the moment and I think he’s there now. We’ll certainly see him against Hull. He has a chance to start.
I’ll discuss what I think our team for the game might look like in tomorrow’s post but two players who won’t be playing against us on Saturday are Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden who are of course on loan at Hull from Arsenal.
Arseblog news reported today that The Tigers’ press office say ‘both players are definitely out’ of the game which tallies with reports at the start of the month that FA rules prevent on-loan players taking the field against parent clubs regardless of any agreement on the matter between the two clubs involved. It’s the right call in my opinion but having seen Sanchez Watt play against us when on-loan at Leeds during the 2010-12 campaign, there’s obviously been a rule-change.
Moving away from the Hull game now and a story that caught my eye today was one about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s alleged demands for a vastly improved new contract. I’ve seen some people losing their sh*t over the Ox wanting to double his money because ‘he hasn’t achieved anything yet’ and ‘has it all to prove still’ etc, but I’m not sure what the fuss is about if I’m honest.
He’s one of England’s best young players, an international, and despite his struggles this season, a player of huge potential. People may say potential doesn’t deserve reward but the reality is if we don’t pay him the going rate for someone of his ability regardless of age and whether he’s currently got the tangible goals and assists to back it up, someone else happily will.
If you don’t rate him then that’s a different matter, but personally I think he could develop into England’s very best attacker with a little luck and so would give him closer to the money comparable contemporaries earn. Raheem Sterling, who I don’t rate as highly as the Ox, was transferred for £50m and earns a reported salary of £180k a week for instance.
Then there’s marketability value to factor in, with the Ox being a young English starlet and all that stuff so without wanting to pretend like I know exactly how these things work, I don’t think the player deserves some of the stick he’s been getting about this. Every player on the planet tries his best to maximize his earnings and basically it’s his prerogative.
Hopefully club and player can come to an agreement over terms sooner rather than later because this summer the player will have two years remaining on his current deal which is when things can start to get more complicated. Plus the thought of us ever selling another first-teamer in, or approaching, his prime is pretty galling. Sign him up Arsenal …
Arsene should hold his pre-Hull press conference in the morning so I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on that, and also play Arsenal Manager again by guessing our starting eleven for the game.
See you on Friday.