What’s going on with Jens Lehmann? The man has demanded first team football but has rightfully been kept on the bench due to the magnificent form of Manuel Almunia. In his reign as Arsenal’s no.1 the Spainiard has been in fine form. I call it a reign due to the battle that Lehmann seems to have made out of the situation. Some of the things he has said are surely detrimental to the club and I would expect all players in the squad to support one another, Lehmann has done the exact opposite.
We have not heard Gilberto slagging off Flamini for taking his place in the team and all the squad seems to be behind one another. If someone has a problem with a lack of playing time then they take it up with the manager, not with their team mates. Lehmann, for me, has gone about it completely the wrong way and will soon be off. What surprises me though is his reluctance to leave for Borussia Dortmund who were rumoured to have called a press conference for this afternoon, to unveil the ‘keeper. However, reports suggest he has turned down their contract offer of £15,000 below his current weekly wage. (I hope he did not swerve off the road when he heard the offer!) If he really wants first team football then why has he turned down the offer? He clearly does not care that much.
Maybe he wants to stay till the end of the season, just to wind up Wenger and Almunia that little bit more? I don’t know, I have rarely understood the man! Surely he should not play on Sunday with his future up in the air?
Should Lehmann leave this window, Wenger has the decision to make regarding bringing in another keeper. Every team needs 3 goalies in the squad. Wenger has said he would prefer Lehmann to stay here, I feel this dilemna is a reason why. He would prefer time over the summer to make a decision on Almunia’s future as no.1, or Fabianski’s progress. He would rather have a prolonged period to decide whether to bring in a new 1st choice keeper or just a 3rd choice in the role similar to the one of Mart Poom last year. Should he have to make the decison now, would you go for a top class keeper to be 1st choice, or trust Almunia and Fabianski for this season at least? Fabianski is definitely the long term option and for now Almunia deserves to remain as no.1. The question lies over his future as our no.1. He could promote Mannone to 3rd choice. He has a few options to consider.
Another interesting story is that of a reported bid from Tottenham for Lassana Diarra. For me, Diarra should stay. He should be first choice to replace Flamini should he get injured or need a rest. Gilberto, in my view, is no longer needed by Wenger. Alongside Vieira, his simple game was very effective; he could intercept the ball and break attacks up easily as the Frenchman added fight to the midfield. When Paddy moved on and Cesc took his place the team lost strength and teams bullied Arsenal. Since Flamini came in to the team, this has changed and we have seen the difference this season. He gets in the faces of teams and gives them no time to settle on the ball. He helps the defence but aids our attacking play with the freedom granted to others like Fabregas.
Gilberto, I feel helps neither aspect of our game and should be first to go before Diarra. It would be a real shame to lose Diarra. We saw against Blackburn in the Carling Cup, the way he controlled the game in midfield. He pressured their players every time they got the ball and his passing was assured. He has done it in other games but in that match he really shone. He has a big future here if Wenger can persuade him to stay. He offers the same thing Flamini does in his fight and drive, if Gilberto has to go to make room for him then so be it.
Talking of Flamini – when is he going to sign that new contract? He can legally talk to other clubs now.
One thing I would like to draw people’s attention to is the return of Kerrea Gilbert to Arsenal from his loan at Southend. This is either a move similar to the one made by Matthew Connolly in which he will very soon be sold on. However, one possibilty I thought of was the defensive cover in central defence. I remember Wenger mentioned Sagna’s ability to play all across the back four, including central defence. With Kolo Toure and Alex Song both off to the African Cup of Nations, Wenger might be considering using Sagna, or even Justin Hoyte as a centre back this month. That would leave room for a 2nd choice RB in the squad for now and Gilbert could well be back to do this job. Something to keep your eyes on perhaps?
The January transfer window has opened but most teams have remained quiet so far. In past years Wenger has bought the odd player. Jose Reyes came in at this time, Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor and Abou Diaby were all brought in during one window. Will he open up the chequebook this time around an who would you guys want to come into the side? People have mentioned the need for defensive cover but once Toure and Song return, we would have too many players in this position. We could get someone on loan, but who? Do people still think we need a natural winger to boost this squad? Who would you want brought in? Also, what price do you realistically think we would have to spend on these players?
The team for Burnley in the FA Cup will consist of first teamers, due to the fact Wenger is resting his youngsters for the semi-final against Tottenham. Only Arsenal would do such a thing with these two cup-ties coming up in the next few days. Toure and Eboue will play their farewell games, for 6-8 weeks at least. Is it bad to wish for an early exit for the Ivory Coast? It is another chance for Diarra to show his worth, that before another chance on Wednesday. Denilson and Diaby are in the same positon and I hope they all come through unscathed. Fabregas the King has previewed the game in more detail but my team would be:
Hleb is injured again – I swear this guy’s bones are the weakest I know. He played 10 minutes on new years day and he is ruled out. What’s going on there? Hopefully it is just a precaution. Maybe David Beckham is hoping to play for us on th right and has injured Hleb now that he will take his place back on the right of midfield? Just a thought. One thing Beckham can do, is improve the set piece takers in our team; other than Van Persie.