I hate international football. I only watch England these days when they are at a Championship, or if Arsenal have someone playing. Consequently, I turned the game off last night as soon as Theo Walcott was put on a stretcher. Even Alan Hansen must have felt sorry for Theo last night. He had started the game really well, taking on and beating his full-back at every opportunity. Walcott got injured trying to get on the end of a cross from Glen Johnson, having initially set the Liverpool man away down the wing. As it was, Theo was caught on the ankle by a lunging defender (no malice or intent whatsoever, just a genuine attempt on the ball) and said joint was turned over at an ugly looking angle. The early prognosis was that he might be out for two weeks - I think I will wait to see what Arsenal say. Considering his fine start to the season it is particularly unlucky for Walcott that he has been laid low by yet another injury. For the first time in his career Walcott has genuinely EARNED his place in the Arsenal starting line-up and was well worth his position. I hope, for his sake, that the injury is minor and that he can regain the form he has shown straight away when he does return to fitness.
Arsenal will receive some compensation for time that is spent on the sidelines for any player injured while playing for their country. But what about the fans? Where is our compensation? Last season Arsenal fans were robbed of the chance to watch Robin Van Persie for five months while he recovered from a serious ankle injury sustained playing for Holland. At no time was I told I could pay less for my season ticket as Arsenal's best striker was not going to be available, through no fault of Arsenal. Now I will be robbed of the chance to see Arsenal's most in-form player because he got injured playing for a team that doesn't interest me - how can that be fair? Perhaps compensation for the fans should be considered - after all, we pay enough money, so why should we pay top-dollar for something that is unavailable due to circumstances beyond the control of Arsenal Football Club? Hurry back Theo, Arsenal need you fit and firing (I didn't expect to be writing that a few weeks ago.)
Arsenal Reserves played out a thriller at Barnet last night, against a strong Blackburn Rovers side. Blackburn's attacking players were David Dunn, Steven N'Zonzi, Junior Hoillett, Benjani and Jason Roberts. Arsenal were similarly strong (a rarity for the Reserves) with Fabianski, Djourou, Squillaci (making his debut,) Denilson, Craig Eastmond, Mark Randall and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas among the players involved. Of concern is that a defence including Djourou, Squillaci and Fabianski conceded three goals to Rovers, whoever they may have had up front. I suspect the combination of Benjani and Roberts was a fine early test for Squillaci and will stand him in good stead for the future. Of less concern is Arsenal's ability going forward, at any level the Club plays. Chuks Aneke, Benik Afobe (2) and a late winner from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas gave the boys a second win of the season. The highlights are yet to be made available on Arsenal TV Online, but Afobe's first goal is apparently different class - watch out for Benik Afobe, he is a real goalscorer.
Having played ninety minutes last night I think we might get our first look at Squillaci on Saturday, even if only as a substitute. Walcott's injury should create an opening for either Eboue or Rosicky on the right. I'd like to see Kieran Gibbs get a game on Saturday as his pace on the bench for England has now seen him go four weeks without playing. I suspect we'll get some early team news at some point tomorrow, and hopefully an update on Theo Walcott's condition.
Unfortunately work will prevent me from posting anything tomorrow, but I will put something together previewing the Bolton game on Friday.