Q&A with the Arsenal blog: The Short Fuse

LONDON ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal scores their third goal from a penalty during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Arsenal and FC Shakhtar Donetsk at the Emirates Stadium on October 19 2010 in London England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

[UPDATE] I didn't really give a proper intro to this thread...Ted and I swapped questions ahead of Mondays match...you can read the other half of the conversation here.

From Tui11BRoy3:  Sounds like Fabregas is really questionable to play… How worried are Arsenal supporters by this? Or is it a big deal even at the moment, with Nasri playing so well either centrally or out wide? Other players seem to be filling in nicely. Also, was it confirmed that it was Cesc who nailed SAF with that slice of pizza in ’04??

TED:

I think most supporters would like to go to Old Trafford with our best team, which certainly includes Cesc Fabregas.  While other midfielders can provide aspects of his game centrally, such as Tomas Rosicky, Andrei Arshavin, or Nasri, nobody offers as much in one package as Cesc does.  He is also our most incisive and creative passer.

As for the pizza: I have no idea.

Also from Tui11BRoy3: Are they still haunted by Nani absolutely destroying Clichy in last year’s 3-1 win? Because I’m still delighted by it…

TED:

I've managed to put much of last year behind me.  I think most of the supporters are really up for Monday and feeling pretty confident.  I don't think Clichy will let that happen again.

READ THE REST AFTER THE JUMP:

One more from Tui11BRoy3: What’s the best guess at a lineup? There’s a lot of attacking choices, and a few question marks due to injuries in defense.

TED:

I think it will be Fabianski-Sagna-Squillaci-Koscielny-Clichy-Song-Wilshere-van Persie-Nasri-Chamakh-Arshavin, but Tomas Rosicky may feature in the middle with van Persie and Theo Walcott coming off the bench.


Wan Ihite wants to know: What happened to Arsenal the past few years? It seems like they are a perennial power that disappeared for a while, and now is looking to come back strong. Have they gotten that much better, or has everyone else gotten better?

TED:

After 2004, a good portion of the team that won titles was either approaching 30 or retired, and many moved on.  I think it has taken a while for Arsenal to field a stable team, many of whom are just now turning 21, 22, 23 years old.  In combination with that, I think the last six years has seen the overall quality of the Premier League increase pretty dramatically.  Arsenal, thankfully, have a stable business plan and look well-prepared for the future, whatever it may bring.  As the team matures further towards age 25, 26, I think Arsenal will only get stronger.

I had a few questions of my own:

CPC: With our own 1st team keeper ready to retire, I see a lot of headlines about who we're after to replace him.  99% of those articles also say that Arsenal is interested in such-and-such keeper as well.  What are your feelings about Fabianski?  Is he reliable enough to last you to the summer, or do you think Wenger is going to spend some money in January?

TED:

At this point, I think he is reliable enough.  I've always been (perhaps to a fault) one of his backers.  He has shown that he has the ability to close out tight matches (Wolverhampton, for example), and although he is occasionally susceptible in the air, he has solidified his overall play to the point that I don't think Wenger will want to destabilize his confidence by bringing in somebody new.

CPC: Which has been more surprising: Nasri sitting on 12 goals (best season of his career) or  Marouane Chamakh adapting to the English game and scoring 10 goals already?

TED:

Chamakh.  Nasri was 20 when he came to Arsenal and was already looking dangerous, scoring in his debut.  Three years development and increased physical presence, and you've got the Nasri you see now.  He is a tremendous talent.  Chamakh, on the other hand, while 26, was never a goal hanger in the mold of a Didier Drogba.  He was brought in as a backup to Robin van Persie, and he had never scored more than 16 goals in all competitions in one season.  He's more of a facilitator in the CF role, so it's surprising that he has ten already.  He could have many more, too, but he has missed a couple of sitters, sadly, and also sometimes passes up opportunities to shoot and tries to set up teammates instead.

CPC: Arsene Wenger seems to be pretty happy in London....look into your crystal ball: Do you see him still with the Gunners or do you think he'll move on to greener (and less stressful) pastures? (ed: The question should have read: Do you still see him with the Gunners in ten years...typo on the original email, Ted answered as written above.)

TED:

His current contract ends in June 2011, but I can't see him going anywhere else at the moment.  I think he'll finish his coaching career at Arsenal, because I can't see any other club giving him the degree of control he has at Arsenal.  At this point, everything at the club is due to him, and one suspects he'll want to leave that as his legacy.  He does do some work for French TV, but I think it'll be a while before he's doing that full-time.

CPC: I have a small connection with Arsenal...I grew up in the Columbia, Missouri area and Stan Kronke resides there.  Given the animosity shown by Man United and Liverpool supporters and their American owners in the past, should Kronke keep his word and stick with 29.9% of the shares, thus leaving the club "public"?  Or would you like to see him take over the club and (possibly) raise the transfer kitty for Wenger?

TED:

The former.  The stability that the current pluralistic model offers is key to its long-term success, and Wenger has funds available should he need them.  But I'm no economist...

CPC: Arsenal are trophy-less since 2005: if you can only win one competition this year, which one do you want the most and why: Premier League, FA Cup or Champions League?

TED:

The Premier League is always first in my mind, because it's the longest, hardest, most grueling competition.  If you win it, it's most likely that luck has little to do with it, as luck can in a cup competition.

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