In typical fashion, Arsenal are keeping their injury news close to their vest and Wenger’s official pre-match press conference is not being made public (yet) so the only injury news we have is dribs and drabs from the internet and speculation.
I can confirm that Bendtner has suffered a setback to his groin and will be out an additional 3 weeks. Given the history and given the recent history we all know when Arsenal say he’ll be out for three weeks they really mean he’ll be out for three months. I suspect this has something to do with relative time dilation indicative of a wormhole near or actually in the Arsenal sick room. Maybe Wenger could use this wormhole and go back in time and get us Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira? Realistically, Bendtner won’t be available for 4 weeks and won’t be back to form for probably 8 weeks.
Rumor is that Cesc is out for 3 weeks, which is pretty much where I suspected that he would end up given the way that fixtures fall over the next few weeks. There will be a week of rest between the 9th and the 17th which would suit him to get back into shape and re-integrate himself into the te… what am I saying? He’s the Lord Jesus Christ, he needs no re-integration!!! I expect him to be back on the 17th, as long as he stays away from Bendtner’s worm hole.
The other rumor is that Denilson is out for tomorrow today and possibly longer with a recurrence of his back problems. It’s a funny rumor though, given the fact that the dot com is touting him as the replacement for Song in January and everyone is calling him a “doubt” for Pompey.
Rosicky is another player who the boss is being weird about, saying that he could play today… or against West Ham on Saturday.
One reason for all this secrecy is probably just plain economics. If Arsenal have suffered multiple long term injuries to our midfield and strike force and we go around announcing them as such it will make our acquisition of 15 year olds that much more expensive. Nope, better to wait until after we sign Huntelaar to a half season loan before we announce that Bendtner’s completely crocked.
Just who Wenger will pick tomorrow today is basically down to injuries. In midfield, with only Diaby, Rambo, Song and Nasri 100% fit, most folks are picking 3 of them to get the start and those same folks would like to give Nasri a blow. Up front, I suspect we’ll see Arshavin, Eduardo, and Walcott get the start with Nasri again being rested and Walcott getting a start instead. I know a lot of folks want to see Vela, he’s got an awful strong cult following, but you can’t discount how Wenger tends to forget about Vela. And at the back, Sagna will be the only player to get a rest EBOUE IS IN AFRICA, Sagna gets no rest. So, I’m going with:
Eboue Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore
Diaby Song Ramsey
Walcott Eduardo Arshavin
Bench: Fabianski, Silvestre, Sagna, Rosicky, Merida, Wilshere, and what’s his name, uhhh, oh yeah “Vela” I nearly forgot.
Whatever team Wenger fields they will not find Fratton park an easy go. The fans there are zany and noisy and bang on drums and blow horns and dress up like clowns: it’s rather frightening. If you give their supporters any hope they get crazier than shit-house rats and that could further disarm the Arsenal lads. As if the sight of pudgy, drunken, screaming, delusional supporters isn’t scary enough.
What am I saying? They’ve played Newcastle, the lads will be fine.
Meanwhile, Pompey’s manager and eventual undertaker (I do think they will be dead and buried soon) Avram Grant is talking about employing the age old tactic of kicking Arsenal off the park. That tactic hasn’t worked so well this season, nor for the last few, so while I expect some tightness at first, I fully expect our boys to run Pompey off the park until their lungs are bursting and then after that 10 minutes are up, tippy-tappy about 6 goals in on them.
The match is on Fox Soccer Channel here in the States and Sky Sports in England, wherever you are, enjoy.
As for the injuries and their recovery, realistically, we could see Bendtner come on as a sub as early as the Villa game on the 27th and be recovering his form just in time for what many see as the hardest patch of the season: the spell from January 27th to February 10th where Arsenal will play Villa, Man U, Chelsea, and Liverpool.
Back in August I mentioned this part of the year and rather than look at it as our hardest part of the season, I reckoned that the boys have a tendency to get up for big games and that a sustained spell of pressure could be really good for them. It could bring out their best.
I’m a little bit more concerned now than I was then because we’ve suffered some devastating injury blows to Djourou, Clichy, van Persie, Fabregas, Denilson, Bendtner, Rosicky, and Gibbs but I still feel like this team has the right stuff. The performance they put in against Villa was easily the best we’ve seen from the whole team this season and if they can continue this strong run of form, even with all the injuries, I think they can come out the other side of that January period league leaders.
So, while the squad is very, erm, “lean” at the moment there’s a lot of experience on the pitch and team leaders like Gallas and Arshavin need to step up and get this team pumped up for every game.
Starting today. Now, go out there and get three points we’ve got to keep pace with everyone else who won this weekend.