So Arsene Wenger has snapped up a young Nigerian defender Semi Ajayi. The 6′ 3″ 19 year old had been released by Charlton in the summer and had a trial with both us and Norwich. The latter offered a short-term contract but he obviously thought better of it and signed the deal offered by Arsenal.
Delighted to announce that I have officially signed for Arsenal. Can’t wait to see what the next two seasons here have in store for me.
It was sad to end my ten year spell with Charlton this summer but I can’t speak highly enough of all of the wonderful people I met during my ten years there and I wish all those at Charlton the best for the future as I will always have a soft spot for the club and its fans.
There are mixed reports over his international career, one or two reports suggest he has played for England under 21′s but others report it’s Nigeria he is set to represent having played 3 fixtures for the under 20′s.
Maybe that’s all yet to be finalised.
Tonight - Well this is what Marseille goal keeper has to say about the prospect of facing us:
This Champions League group is terrific. For any club to progress, every game must be like a final and you have to win your home games. Unless you do that, you have no chance.
Giroud is in sensational form. We have to stop them from scoring and creating danger but that will not be easy. They look a very strong team.
Now Ozil has increased Arsenal’s level in attack. His arrival has taken Arsenal to another level and he is perfect for the style of football and play that Wenger likes. I never expected Real Madrid to allow him to leave.
This Champions League group is very tough and in order to get through to the knock-out stages, we need to be getting at least a point from all of our away matches and making sure we win the home ones but that’s going to be a tough task.
I’m not going to make out I know much about tonight’s opposition, in fact I’ll be honest, I know very little other than one or two of their players have at some stage been linked with us and there’s nothing worse than claiming an opinion to be your own when it’s someone elses.
So, here is Andrew Gibney from The Mirrors view on Marseille’s strength and weaknesses:
The strength of Marseille appears to be the three attacking talents playing behind Andre-Pierre Gignac. The long-serving duo Mathieu Valbuena and Andre Ayew have been joined by Dimitri Payet, making a very dynamic trio. Three great players in their own right, they combine a mixture of power, pace, technical ability and above all else, movement on and off the ball.
Marseille’s defence was excellent last season, week after week they would be unspectacular but effective, edging out a lot of games by the odd goal. Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda enjoyed a run of seven games without conceding as l’OM finished second in the table.
But they have started this season looking a little unstable, especially from set pieces. Last season Cameroonian defender Nicolas N’Koulou was an absolute rock, but at times he has looked lost and confused positionally. We could have a lot of success if he is not at his best.
Marseille’s opponents have also been able to get down the flanks, where the full-backs have looked uncomfortable. The likes of Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey could have a lot of success down the channels.
Here are the eighteen players who have travelled to France, all of whom may be wearing black armbands out of respect for Marseille’s sporting director Jose Anigo who has been left devastated after his 30-year-old son Adrien was shot dead last week in an assassination in broad daylight.
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Walcott, Flamini, Giroud, Akpom, Hayden, Miyaichi, Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Jenkinson.
Arsene Wenger’s view on our group:
On average you need 10 points to qualify so that gives you the task. Ten points in a group as a difficult as that could be a reasonable number to get through.”
It will play a big part because it is difficult to predict that you will absolutely win your three home games.
You need points away from home and, like in every competition, the start is very important for the confidence of the team and to put you in a good position. Whether it is home or away, it is the same basically, we come here and we will try to win the game.
We are on a good run, the only blip was the defeat on the opening day of the season and despite being knocked out of the Champions League last season, we left it on a good note having beaten Bayern Munich away. We’ve also beaten Fenerbahce both home and away in the qualifying round so we are no pushover especially away
Beating Bayern away was a huge result and for once, we go into this Champions League campaign with a stronger squad that last season. I know it’s not a particularly deep squad but having added Ozil and Flamini, we are definitely stronger and once both Arteta and Podolski return, that depth will start to grow a little.
We can’t forget that Diaby is still around somewhere and he’s set to soon return and hopefully once he does, he’ll stay fit for a while and make this a season for him to remember for all the right reasons.
Finally, we have a few younger players coming through, three of whom are in the squad tonight…
So today, let’s hope the men and boys go out and do us, themselves and the club proud.
I’d take a point, but three would be so much sweeter and it would be a record to go ten away fixtures without a loss….