Interlull cleansheet / Tottenham Taxspurs / Norwich preview
Interlull cleansheet, well almost...
Interlull time to Arsenal fans is more than just an inconvenient break in 'proper football' time, it's more often than not been 'players coming back broken' time. This interlull for a change has been kind with the only loss being young Carl Jenkinson who has been diagnosed with a slight stress fracture in his lower back, a pity for a player looking to build upon his strong showing at home to West Brom. It's been a rarity to have Robin Van Persie available for a sustained run and having missed spells in each of the past few seasons as fans we half expect the player to break down at some point, that anxiety heightens for any key Arsenal player and non more so than our free scoring Dutchman who missed 5 months following an international tie with Italy back in November 2009 when a lunging Giorgio Chiellini tackle caused an achilles tendon injury.
Thankfully the risk of an injury to Van Persie was completely mitigated by Dutch coach Bert van Majwik whom following consultation with Le Boss decided against calling up the player for a meaningless friendly, one they lost 3-0 in Germany by the way. It is a refreshing approach for an international coach to take a long term view who seems to have recognised the value of protecting a player heavily relied on by his club and in a rich reign of form, better to cash in on that form when it counts come Euro 2012 than risk injury either directly or indirectly through fatigue at a time that the fixture list begins to cramp up towards the new year. Finishing off the subject of injuries, be sure to check out reports from Arseblogger and Goonerholic on their tour of the new fitness facilities at Shenley.
Thierry Henry returns
It is so heart warming to Thierry Henry back at Shenley in Arsenal colours, if only for the purpose of maintaing his fitness in the MLS close season. It hasn't stopped the media speculating of a loan return in January but the boss confirmed on Arsenal.com that the player will be returning back to the states come February. Still, even a 50% of peak Thierry Henry lining up alongside Robin Van Persie whilst Gervinho is away on African Cup Nations duty has appeal, if only a sentimental one. Without getting drawn too much into the who's the best player to have pulled on the red & white debate, I would have to say this guy encapsulated and embodied the spirit of club and fans for a magical four or five years. A statue will be in order with some historic perspective on what he and the untouchables achieved.
Tottenham Taxspurs want you to pay for their new ground
Its common place for private developers on large scale developments to 'sweeten the deal' by incorporating public infrastructure improvements to help obtain planning permission, indeed Arsenal bent over backwards to accommodate numerous parties in the process of obtaining their go ahead. There was a new recycling centre, health care facilities and funding towards public transport improvements. You would think therefore that Tottenham Hotspur would be expected to make similar contributions to their community, instead the London Mayor has offered Spurs 'incentives' to stay in the borough. That's right, as tax payers we are expected to fund Tottenham's new ground, a club whose own manager is to stand trial for tax evasion! Go figure.
Norwich City preview
The form guide shows that Arsenal have won their last four and Norwich have won only won one in five, but they have faced Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester United away from home in that run. At home Norwich have been beaten just once in five home games and sit an extremely healthy 9th place in the table above Swansea and QPR in 10th and 11th positions, which should prove evidence enough that the newly promoted sides will be no push overs this season, a fact that Arsenal can testify too having only narrowly edged out Swansea at the Emirates. Arsenal on the road have won just once in five but with four league wins in a row behind them and a 5-3 victory from their previous away match at Chelsea fresh in the memory you would have to back Arsenal to take the points in tomorrow's early kick off.
Norwich City have conceded 18 goals and Arsenal 21, and with the Gunners scoring 8 in their last two matches goals should be expected. Team news: Chamakh returns, whilst the only absentee unavailable from the West Brom tie is Carl Jenkinson who will be out for 3-4 weeks with his lower back stress fracture. Kieran Gibbs has been diagnosed with a hernia will miss a further 6 weeks. Andre Santos will continue at left back and continue his integration to the team, he should enjoy the attacking nature of this tie. Meanwhile Johan Djourou looks favourite to fill in at right back having played at Stanford Bridge. With Jenkinson and Sagna both out of action Johan Djourou will be the focus of tomorrow's 'player focus' section of the match report, let's hope there is an improvement in the against column from his previous two away day outings in which Johan featured in which we shipped 3 at the Bridge and 4 at Ewood park.