Jack is back! Good news doesn't come better than this, does it? After one full year out of the Arsenal squad he resumed full training on Thursday. Yeah, I know it's a bit too early to get my hopes up considering that he's still a couple of weeks away from any attempt at full action but the first huddle has been crossed? It's expected that he will be eased back into the team gradually with some cameo appearances when eventually the manager deems him ready to play. One year out of the game is no joke so a bit more patience, guys and the
Wenger said in his pre-Man City press briefing on Friday morning that Wilshere will be given at least ten days training before he'll play his first match so it's safe to assume that by the second week of October we'll see Wilshere back on the field. There's a two-week international break after the West Ham away game on the 6th of October so if he doesn't feature in that one then it will have to be Norwich away on October 20th. He should be definitely ready by then.
The excitement for me about Jack's comeback is not that I expect that he'll come straight back into the team considering the marvelous job Arteta and Diaby are doing but the depth that his return gives the team. There's no doubt about what Jack brings to the team that's why he's been sorely missed and his return anticipated eagerly by the faithful but at best his return can only improve the competition for places in the DM positions. Our current 4-2-3-1 formation has Arteta and Diaby playing in front of the back four which happens to be Jack's forte and none can fault the job those two are doing there thus far.
Frimpong is another returnee from a long term injury who it was confirmed is back in training. In fact Wenger has said that he's so ahead of Jack in form that he may line out for the reserves on Friday evening. That depth I was talking about gets deeper, doesn't it? That's like two new signings (you know what I mean) in the middle of a season we have started well and are having a good run. Add Sagna and Rosicky who are one and two weeks away respectively from a return from injury and you'll see where I'm going with this. That which has been our bane for years is slowly being rectified -a lack of depth in-squad. With all these guys available for selection it's easy to see why the manager may have made the unpopular decision not add to the squad before the transfer market shut so maybe Arsene truly knows.
Szczesny has been ruled out for a further three weeks after missing the Montpellier game last weekend so Mannone is in for an extended run in the team. This time last year, this news would have caused some panic among the fans but he's deputized magnificently in the three games he's played this season, only conceding a goal from a penalty. He'll need all his wits about him on Sunday at City but Wenger has backed him to rise to the occasion and make a stake for the No. 1 shirt while he has the opportunity,
"Football is down to competition and performances. It is a good opportunity for Mannone to show the quality that I believe he has. The games, up until now, indicate he has too. If he keeps doing well it is a good opportunity for him."So we head to City on Sunday with an enviable unbeaten run but City is also unbeaten this term in the Premier League. The upside for us is that they've conceded quite a bit this season (6 league+3 CL goals) while we've been stingy with balls going into our net. They've scored 9 goals in the league and 2 in Europe. Hopefully with Gerv and Poldi currently scoring when they want and our back line replicating their ungenerous streak, we should stand a good chance. And just maybe this is the game Gervinho has been waiting to break that stubborn duck of his. What a thing that would be.
Some notable stats ahead of Sunday's game:
1. There have been four red cards in the last four Premier League games between City and the Gunners
2. Sunday's referee is Mike Dean. Arsenal have won just one of the last 14 Premier League matches with him as the official (W1 D6 L7)
3. Only Arsenal (10) have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target than Manchester City (11)
4. Arsenal have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League away games (W6 D3 L1)
5. Manchester City have won 29 and lost none of their last 31 Premier League home matches
6. City have won 3 of last 4 home games against AFC. Only game AFC won in that run saw Nasri score the opener in a 3-0 win for Arsenal
7. Man City has scored just one goal in the last five Premier League games against Arsenal
The Mike Dean stat is startling isn't it? One win in fourteen games he's reffed. No need to start on conspiracy theories right now, if we play like we know we can on Sunday, we can come away from Manchester on Sunday with a win. No 5 shows City are strong at home but they will be looking to attack us in front of their home crowd and like I always say those are the games we thrive in besides the pressure will be on City to win this game because they are the league champions and they are playing at home.
We go into the game as underdogs and happily so. City, of course will be looking to bounce back from the 3-2 loss at Real Madrid on Tuesday in a game they had led 2-1 up to the 87th minute. The fall-out of that loss saw their keeper Hart criticizing his team mates in the media and Mancini in turn slating Hart -also in the media- about criticizing his mates. This is the kind of stuff that can bring dressing-room unrest and disharmony to a team so we should be hoping that this is the case and that it drags on into the weekend.
If by chance you missed seeing Vincent Kompany duck under Ronaldo's shot right in front of his keeper for the deciding goal then you should see it here. Can't get enough of it. Poldi and the others need to take note and fire everything they can at goal through him. He isn't the fearless super man he likes to think he is sometimes.
That's that for today. I don't know about you but It's Friday where I am, and sometimes we go out and get royally plastered if we can manufacture a reason to celebrate. Jack is back and that's like a new signing, right? I just found my reason to celebrate. See ya!
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