Arsenal news/links, April 10

No worries, he'll be okay.

So yeah, yesterday was pretty much awesome. Tottenham lost. Newcastle won. Chelsea drew. Clint Dempsey scored a goal (AMERICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA). The table now looks like this:

Manchester United: 79 points, 6 matches left
Manchester City: 71 points, 6 matches
Arsenal: 61 points, 6 matches
Tottenham Hotspur: 59 points, 5 (!) matches
Newcastle: 59 points (11 behind Spurs in goal differential), 5 matches
Chelsea: 57 points, 5 matches

As pdb outlined earlier, the run-in for Arsenal is not terribly bad (certainly not as bad as Newcastle, whose last three fixtures are at Stamford Bridge, hosting MCFC, and against Everton at Goodison Park). So today is a good day to be a Gooner. Act accordingly.

It's also a good day to be Per Mertesacker, if Bild are to be believed. Via Arseblog News, they claim that the big German will be returning to training with the rest of the team this week, and could potentially be an option for Arsene Wenger before the season's end. Additionally it may allow him to play for Germany in the summer's Euro 2012 tournament, which will be nice for him I'm sure. Personally I trust Mertesacker as a backup to Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny a bit more than I do Johan Djourou (though against Aston Villa, Djourou was good), so this is a boost to Arsenal in the final stages of this season.

It's been a little less fun for Alan Davies, whose comments on Liverpool's fixture list, altered by the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, were mentioned yesterday. He's been receiving death threats on Twitter (or death taunts, I guess), and in an attempt to help this mess end has donated £1000 to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. Which is the right move, even if

And now for the portion of our program where we discuss the FA.

They've decided not to take retrospective action against Mario Balotelli for what is universally regarded to be a possibly leg-breaking and sure red-card "tackle" on Alex Song in the 20th minute of the Sunday match. Evidently it was decided that referee Martin Atkinson (or, I suppose, one of his assistants) saw the mugging and decided that it wasn't a foul (which is inexcusable) and because of that, nothing can be done. (Except, of course, when it can.)

This is absurdity layered upon absurdity. If Atkinson hadn't seen the play, that would be bad enough - that a possibly career-altering "tackle" was missed by all four officials is just atrocious. But to be told that it was seen and ignored is just...madness. The levels of incompetence on display here at all levels, from the match officials all the way up to the FA, is so staggering that I have a mild stomachache right now. I need a nap.

As a palate cleanser, here's Mikel Arteta scoring from a new angle. Pretty.

Carlos Vela says he'd like to stay at Real Sociedad permanently. Okay.

Adrian Clarke, ex-Arsenal player, has written a column about the coming and necessary purging of Arsenal's fringe players. It's definitely worth a look, and I don't disagree with the idea that we have a lot of players we should be looking to ditch. I do disagree with some of the names mentioned. I believe Andre Santos to be very underrated as a defender, and though he is always hurt, I hate the idea of dropping Abou Diaby (though I could be talked into the idea that it's best for all involved). I really don't see any reason to sell Djourou either, particularly just after signing a new contract.

Jamie Sanderson says we may be looking to take Stephan El Shaarawy on loan from AC Milan for next season. I have no problem with bringing in loan players - Yossi Benayoun, for one, has brought a lot to the table this year, and I don't think we're "too big" to bring in players on a temporary basis. However, I'm not sure that this one specifically would be a great idea for either party. If he plays well (and a lot), then Milan will want him back and we'll be in the same place next year that we're in now. If not, what was the point?

Apropos of nothing: Remember when I was talking about how IU had two guys considering entering the NBA draft? Well, they're not doing it. So good for me, eh?

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