It seems that our ‘D’ surnamed players cannot keep themselves out of the headlines at the moment. First up, the good news that Guy Demel has signed a new contract with us – I thought he had his best game for us on Saturday against QPR and he seems to be growing as a player. If he keeps injury free, he could become an important player.
Next up Alou Diarra seems to think he is the number one man with a bizarre outburst at the club and manager. Put in some performances like Winston Reid and Mark Noble mate and you can start talking, until then, as they say in France, ferme la bouche.
And finally the issue of Mo Diame may resolve soon, with an apparent contract deadline looming tomorrow for the player. It’s a tricky one and shows the intricacies of running a club and doing deals. This guy could have his clause activated at 11.59 on deadline day, thus giving us no chance to replace him. You could avoid that by getting someone else in the meantime, but what if he then does not leave? You end up with two players for the same position, not bad thing in most cases but actually midfield is somewhere we do have sufficient cover. I hope he stays as he is a good player, but if he doesn’t, I hope he leaves sooner rather than later.
So to the Emirates tonight for our postponed Boxing Day game. We are a stronger proposition now than we were then and Arsenal have not signed anyone of note, but it is still hard to be optimistic about this one. Having said that, I was there when Green and Collins fought the Alamo and Zamora got the winner, and if anyone can grind out a result, in Big Sam I am trusting. Consider them bonus points if we do though.
Obi – Reid - Tomka – Demel
Noble – Diame – Nolan
Jarv – Carlton – Joey
Be a good time for Kevin Nolan to pop up with one to keep the fans off his back, come on you Irons – here are stats from EA Sports to whet your appetite….
Walcott’s goal was his 9th in the Premier League this season, from an efficient 40 shots at goal with an impressive 70% on target and a conversion rate of a goal for every 4.44 shots. That’s a conversion rate on a par with league top scorer Robin van Persie who averages a goal for every 4.38 shots.
888sport.com have Walcott at an industry best price of 4/1 to open the scoring tonight.
Arsenal will welcome back Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from illness for tonight’s game
Podolski has 6 goals in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, from 31 shots at goal with 67.74% on target
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been used sparingly by Arsene Wenger this season, playing just 801 minutes in the Premier League. However, in that time he’s managed to complete 208 passes in the opposition half and deliver 21 crosses
The return of Jack Wilshere has been a huge boost for Arsenal fans, with the England midfielder looking at his industrious best. Wilshere has been in the top two in the Arsenal team for ground covered in all but one of his last six Premier League games, with 6.15 miles against Chelsea taking his total distance covered for the season to 64.61 miles
Prodigal son Joe Cole scored his first goal since returning to West Ham in their game against QPR last weekend, and 888sport.com have him at 9/2 to score at any time tonight. Cole’s stats show that he is already performing close to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s top performers, an encouraging prospect for West Ham fans when Cole’s stats will surely improve even further when he is playing regularly
Cole has played just 388 minutes of Premier League football but has completed 111 passes in the opposition half in that time, averaging a pass completed every 3 minutes 30 seconds, a rate which seems him get closer to the likes of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard who averages a pass every 3 minutes
Cole has also averaged a cross every 29 minutes and 50 seconds, again this rate puts Cole close to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index’s top performers with Leighton Baines averaging one every 24 minutes 55 seconds
Another encouraging sign is Cole’s work rate. The winger covered the second highest amount of ground in the game against QPR with 6.4 miles on the clock.