Good morning morning people,
Today we’re back to regularity of a 3pm kick off away to a resurgent Sunderland. I have to say their form since the latest Messiah manager stepped onto Wearside has been impressive, chalking up 22 out of 30 points and knocking two teams out of the FA Cup in the process. It just goes to show you that form can come from anywhere and to any team that has the right attitude and the right application. I must say, the fact that I looked at the table last night and saw Sunderland in eighth shows two things: 1) the league is very tight when you get below the top 7, and 2) I probably should pay more attention to the league, rather than only looking at the top five places. To be fair though, it’s not like we’ve had to worry about looking that low down the league under Wenger.
Speaking of Le Boss, he had his usual pre-match presser and had a few things to say, most notably that Arshavin would not be going anywhere despite the fact the Russian transfer window remains open until late February. Makes perfect sense to me. We can’t get anybody of much quality in now the window has closed and by selling Arshavin now we would just weaken ourselves even further. We all have our Arshavin issues, but surely he’s better at the club than not?
AW also clarified his statement to the Belgian press this week, saying that our debt is around £15million per season and that is what we have to make in profit to pay off The Emirates. Given that this is not player sales only, it shows how he was once again misquoted to make a non-story a story.
Le Boss also spoke of the Martin O’Neill factor, saying he thought that they were a little bit unlucky at the start of the season with Steve ‘I wash myself with a rag on a stick’ Bruce, but I don’t think that’s true from what I’ve heard and read. When they visited the Emirates at the beginning of the season they were a poor side. Yes, we’ve seen how confidence can rip into a team like John Terry into a pair of Wayne Bridge’s mrs’ undergarments, but they really didn’t look like they had much to offer. O’Neill has certainly repaired the confidence but I am hopeful that it will be short-lived over the next 10 days. If the Chavs, Spuds or Mancs were going there we’d expect them to win, and So should we. Hold on a second, did that sound like expectation from your humble narrator? I sincerely apologise. Take it back even. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it will be easy, but we have the players, we’ve had a week to re-charge and we should be ready to fire.
And lets not forget – Sunderland have played 120 minutes midweek in a tough local derby. Physically and mentally that would, you’d like to think, have some sort of impact. If we’d have done the same midweek I’d imagine our players would be so far into the ‘red zone’ it would practically be infra. It would be nice to hear another manager talk about fatigue for a change.
In terms of team news we have no fresh injuries and the return of Kieran Gibbs to the squad is a welcome boost. The team will probably line up the same as last weekend but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Arshavin playing instead of the Ox, particularly with the tough games we have coming up. I don’t think Gibbs will start, so it will be ‘as you were’ for the back four.
Sunderland’s injury news doesn’t look to have changed much since Wednesday night. Sessengon limped off in extra time but I can find nothing online about any problems, so I’d expect him and Fraser Campbell to start up top and provide us with some problems. The decision O’Neill will have to make is whether to rest some players off stick with the same team that played on Wednesday.
I said I wouldn’t make predictions for the rest of the season and I’ll stick to my guns in that regard. Predictions do nothing but disappoint. I’ve have enough of that from Arsenal this season so I’ll not bother. I’m also not expecting us to rip them apart. It is fully within the realms of possibility for us to lose this afternoon, but equally it’s within our locker to come away with three points.
The boss said this next two weeks could be the defining point in our season. Totally agree with that. And today is just the beginning. So go out there today, bring home three points and get the ball rolling on a good finish to 2011/12.