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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Fabianski to play at Anfield, Fulham deny request made, England, my take on Aston Villa

It appears that the worst fears of Arsenal fans may be confirmed this Sunday with Lukasz Fabianski saying he expects to play at Anfield. Fabianski is convinced that, having played more in pre-season than the other goalkeepers, he is the man that will line-up for us this weekend. I have to say that I think he is right. Arsene Wenger seems to be driving Manuel Almunia away from the Club. This is a very risky strategy. Almunia is not good enough to be first-choice for Arsenal, that is true, but he is twice the player Fabianski is. Unfortunately the Pole just doesn't have what it takes. With a severely weakened midfield and, most probably, a debutant centre-half, the last thing we need is a goalkeeper devoid of confidence and, quite possibly, the most gaffe-prone in the Premier League. We can only hope that, in the likely absence of a new player, Wenger will come to his senses and give Almunia a reprieve.

On the subject of goalkeeping, Fulham moved quickly to deny reports in the papers this morning that Mark Schwarzer had made a transfer request. They went on to say that they want to hold on to their best players. Fair enough. I never wanted him anyway - I don't think the guy is any better than Almunia. Fulham have also announced that Philippe Senderos has ruptured his achilles and will miss the season. I think even the most hard-nosed critic of Senderos at Arsenal (and I was certainly NOT a Senderos-basher) would have to feel sorry for the big man. Let's hope he can make a recovery and rescue his career.

England play tonight in the most pointless round of fixtures ever. There is some serious Arsenal interest with Walcott, Gibbs and Wilshere involved. The England squad lurches from one embarrassment to the next and this surely reached its nadir last night with the addition of Blackburn's third-choice goalkeeper! If I had any genuine interest in the England team I would be going absolutely mental at what is happening. I will skyplus the match as I am working, but I will only watch it back if the Arsenal players have been involved properly. We must hope that the fourteen Arsenal players absent this week all come back fit. Fabregas and Vela are having to travel to Mexico which would surely put paid, certainly for Fabregas, to any hopes of them being involved in the squad at Liverpool.

I was working on Monday when I heard that Martin O'Neill had quit Aston Villa. Speaking with some of the blokes I offered the opinion that maybe Randy Lerner wasn't the good foreign owner he was portrayed as, perhaps looking to sell the crown-jewels and not invest properly. I was, as I found out yesterday, quite wrong. I hadn't realised, until watching Sky yesterday morning, that Aston Villa had the second-biggest net-spend on players since 2006, behind only Manchester City. Villa have spent a net £80m on new players. I couldn't work out who these players could possibly be but gradually it started to come to me. O'Neill has spent mega-money on people like Ashley Young, Nigel Reo-Coker, Stewart Downing, Steve Sidwell, Nicky Shorey, Emile Heskey - the list goes on. The fact is that O'Neill is a mentalist. Enough said. It's a real shame for the Villa fans who follow their, genuinely big, Club through thick and thin.

Finally I want to offer my sympathy to the family of Adam Stansfield and the fans of Exeter City. The striker died yesterday following a battle with bowel-cancer. I am friends with a couple of local Grecians and I am sure they will be very upset at this tragically young loss. Rest in peace.

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