Mixed emotions from playing the Mancs

Do you know, normally, the day after Arsenal have played I have a better idea about how I’m feeling about the result. Sometimes it’s easy. If Arsenal play brilliantly and win by three clear goals, I can wax lyrical about the team and champion the manager for getting his team selection spot on. If they lose then it’s usually the reverse. Heck, even a draw is usually seen as a good draw or a bad draw, depending on the circumstances of the performance and the opposition.

The draw away to Everton can be seen as a decent one given the narrative of the game. Away from home we snatched two late goals and despite a poor performance we could all be satisfied that we did not pick up a defeat. Conversely, having dominated possession against a newly promoted Leicester, a draw was not really acceptable. Yet, based on all of the variables I can think of this morning, I can’t work out whether to be happy with the draw or disappointed.

the negatives
At home, against one of the top teams, for psychological purposes more than anything else at this stage in the season, you need to be picking up points. That’s what Moneychester City did against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago and that’s what I’d have hoped we could do yesterday lunchtime.

The most annoying thing about not getting that psychological advantage against what we would perceive as a rival, is that it once again raises the question about our own record against the top teams, so much so that I dare not look into it today. In terms of picking up points against Chelski, City and United, the record over the last five years or so reads like some sort of scary book from Stephen King where your own mother eats pieces of your body day-by-day because she has never really gotten over giving birth to you, so she does it to get you back inside her belly.

Until we can muster some consistency of victories against these ‘bigger teams’, the questions will continue to be raised and, given our away form last season, this is now one game less that I feel we can take advantage of to banish those particular demons of ours.

The game itself has also left me harbouring bitter feelings. Mark Clattenberg for example, despite the protestations of Manuel Pellegrini, gave about 60 to 70% of decisions to City I feel. He allowed persistent rotational fouling without booking, which only perpetuated an increased volume of fouls, one in the second half which consistent of Vincent Kompany essentially barging into the back of an Arsenal player without reprieve.

I don’t know whether or not it contributed massively to disrupting our flow, because whilst some players were excellent yesterday (I’ll come to that in the ‘positives’ section), some really did stink up the joint. Özil, Ramsey and Flamini, for example, had particularly poor games. I can’t really work out who was worse from Özil or Ramsey, but very little of what either did yesterday came off, so if you think about that as a massive chunk of our creative talent not performing, it shows that there was certainly another level we could have gone to, to win the game.

But you can only win games if you do both attacking and defending well and, if we’re all honest, we hardly mastered the defensive side yesterday. It felt like we were rolling back the years in a bad way yesterday. Every time Navas got the ball on the right hand side he looked to have the beating of Monreal and, as good as Nacho has been this season, he struggled yesterday I thought. Gibbs is a better defender and having him back in the team will certainly be a big boost for us.

On the other side of the defence Debuchy was again very good, so it feels almost inevitable with the benefit of hindsight, that he would go down with an ankle injury and now face an extended period on the side. This kind of injury has nothing to do with our medical team, but is yet another player injured, leaving us all wondering why we seem so cursed with injuries.

The goals we conceded were also pretty shabby, if we’re all honest with ourselves, born not out of excellent opposition play but by our own mistakes. As the ball stayed in play on the right hand side of the pitch, Navas’ run was countered by some Denilson-esque jogging back by Ramsey, Flamini and Koscienly to which the inevitable response was Aguero’s run to knock the ball home. It was pretty much City’s first shot and they started to grow in confidence after that. The second goal was equally poor, as Szczesny’s poor kick never reached the halfway line, only for the ball to come back towards our goal and out for a corner. How or why Demichelis was gifted the freedom of the penalty box is beyond me, but Woj hardly covered himself in glory with a limp-wristed flap at the ball. We’ve been the beneficiaries of late goals a few times already this season, but this time we were on the receiving end and I don’t like it, don’t like it one bit at all. Thereafter we seemed to wobble a bit and City could have won it on a few occasions.

The Positives
I don’t want to end today’s blog just looking at the negatives, because there was plenty for us to be pleased about as well. Going forward we look like we had options that were clearly non-existent last season. Alexis was in fine form yesterday and it was fitting that he capped off his fine performance with a fabulous goal that should have won us the game. He is busy, skilful, can finish and will be a major asset for us this season. That’s three goals already and on the basis of what I’ve seen, I reckon we’re looking at a 20 goal man come May.

Likewise too, I thought Danny Welbeck had an impressive debut. Had he managed to flick the ball into the net in first half we’d probably all be raving right now, but strikers are always judged on goals and that can be the only blot on an otherwise good performance. He even came close towards the end with a curling shot that just went over the bar, but with him and Alexis giving us that extra pace in the final third as well as being willing to chase down every ball, it can only be a good thing for us.

But to end today’s blog on a high, let’s just bask in the Wilsherian glow from yesterday, because Jack was on another level. His ball retention was good, dribbling was superb, he linked play excellently and did not deserve to be on a side that didn’t pick up three points. Big games often need players to step up and on that stage nobody can argue that Jack didn’t. His goal was a superb flick that had Hart beaten all ends up and another few performances like that in the coming weeks and the Paul Scholes’ of this world will have to start chowing down on some humble pie. More of the same please Jacky.

So like I said at the start of the blog, I have no idea whether I’m happy or sad about the game yesterday, because for all that was bad, we had the good in equal measure. Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it and look forward to the Dortmund game in midweek. A win there would be just the tonic.

Catch you tomorrow.

Can we make that final step? City preview

Well Mr Matchday, you certainly took your sweet time to arrive, didn’t you? Keeping me waiting like a disgruntled commuter at a National Rail train station wasn’t my idea of fun, but you’re here now, so let’s not bicker and just get on with the rest of our Saturday, shall we?

It’s an early one for us all today, as the fates have conspired to drag us into the horrific world of early kick offs. Look, I have no real problems with the early starts in terms of the teams ability to be ‘up for it’ (it is ridiculous to assume that our players can’t be up for early kick off games based on the travesties of last season), my issue lies purely with the fact that an early start means getting up earlier on a Saturday which is not something I’m overly enamoured with. There’s also the reduction in hours of pre-match amber nectar supping. I like a beer, but I’m not starting my day at 10am with one, so it leaves me with just about enough time for a solitary pint before heading over to the ground.

All this is just the pre-amble to the main event though, so I suppose I shouldn’t be the archetypal moaning Brit and move swiftly on to our own raison d’être, which starts at 12.45pm UK time.

There’s no doubt this is by far and away the most difficult test that The Arsenal will have faced this season. The visit of Moneychester City represents the first litmus test of whether or not we have learned from our recent poor history against any of the top four clubs of seasons past. Last season saw us fail to pick up wins against City, Chelski, Everton and even the ailing Man United, so a marker of whether or not this team has the capability to challenge the top teams will need to be placed today.

I’ve said before that from a points perspective, you can easily win the league as long as you pick up points against the teams lower down the table, which is true if you think about the maths behind the logic. Home and away wins against teams from 8th position in the league downwards gives you 72 points, which is approaching a decent points tally to have a go at the league. But to get over the line you need to have wins against the bigger players not just for those few extra points, but for the psychological boost that big game victories provide. That’s why today is important. It’s not so much about the points, but about the belief that will be instilled in the team, through taking a scalp like Moneychester City.

Arsène has a litany of options at his disposal to draw upon, which is what also makes this game exciting to blog about this morning, because until those first whispers of the team sheet come in, we have no idea who is in the squad, let alone the starting eleven. I hope Arsène opts for ‘pace, pace, pace’ and we see Welbeck flanked by The Ox and Alexis, but I suspect that Özil or Cazorla might be moved to the left, as I think Arsène wants to include both in his team selection. I’m certainly not in the camp that believes having Özil out wide is conducive to getting the best out of his game, but that appears to be where his temporary home is at the moment, so we’ll all have to accept it. I also seem to be in the minority at the moment regarding Cazorla. I actually don’t believe that the diminutive Spaniard has had the best of starts to the season, flitting in and out of games far too much (an accusation oft levelled at Özil but not his teammate), so I wouldn’t be too worried if the Ox was preferred. I love Santi as a footballer and when he is on song his game is fabulous to watch, but I just feel like he hasn’t hit the form of when he arrived and it’s a shame that we’re not seeing the Santi that we all know can change a match. Perhaps I’m being too harsh.

The midfield also has a plethora of options to choose from, so Arsène’s difficult decisions don’t just stop at the pointy end of the team, as he’ll need to work out who from Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky and Flamini occupy the two midfield positions if, as expected, both Özil and Cazorla play. I suspect the decision will hinge on how recovered Rambo is from his midweek ankle roll, as I’d think the first two names from that list I’ve just reeled off, will be given priority. It will be another source of irritation for Rosicky, but Arsène isn’t going to drop his captain or last seasons player of the year, so he’ll just have to accept it.

As for our opponents, a Jovetic injury is all I believe they are suffering from, so we know that they will be at almost full strength when they line up against us. Last season they were the free-scoring champions, but I wonder if Pellegrini will be as gung-ho in a match today as his team was at times last season. At The Emirates he needed only a draw realistically to ensure that his team kept on the march to the title. Today’s game is similar in requirements for his team I suspect, i.e. do not lose, so I wonder if he’ll look to try and stay solid defensively whilst catching us on the counter attack.

City will rely on the guile of Silva and Nasri, sure for a spicy reception as always, whilst Dzeko will occupy both Per and Kos at varying times. It’s a team that has threats all over the park, but despite our less than stellar start to the season, I think the openness of today’s game will give our players the chance to express themselves more freely and occupy space that wasn’t afforded to them against Palace or Leicester.

I feel cautiously optimistic about today’s game. Let’s hope it’s not misguided optimism. A win would be a perfect catalyst for a good run against a number of difficult opponents, but I think we have the firepower now to cope with our schedule and demonstrate to the rest of the league that we’re serious title contenders.

Victories against teams like City feels like the final piece in our league title puzzle. That one final step. That’s all we’ve got to overcome.

Come on Arsenal!

Horrible hypothetical dilemma, whilst Welbeck intrigue grows

Hello hello friend. How goes it for you today? I hope well. Are you looking forward to the weekend? I know I am, that’s for sure, I just hope we all hear the clean bill of health from Arsène later today/tomorrow about injuries.

This is always a weird part of the week in that regard, because we’re close to the games and yet we have no idea what sort of worries the manager will offload on us after an international break in which he’s hardly seen any of his players. The real concern will undoubtedly be Aaron Ramsey and, despite the blasé nature of Coleman’s post match interview on Tuesday evening, I’m almost resigned to the fact that Arsène will probably tell us that Ramsey is out.

Let’s just hope that he’s the only one, although question marks remain over yesterday’s birthday boy Koscienly and Mesut Özil, so let’s just cross everything for positivity today/tomorrow.

So what else is going on in the Arsenal world today? How about some mischief making rumours that emerged yesterday that the Spuds were looking to share our stadium for the season that their stadium is being built? Quite preposterous, obviously, but I posed one of those moral dilemmas yesterday to a couple of Twitter peers in a deliberate attempt to be provocative. I asked “if a season of that lot sharing The Emirates, in return for enough cash that would but Ronaldo/Messi, would you take it?”. It’s a horrible question to have to answer, because nobody wants to see Tottenham rocking up at The Emirates unless there’s a 5-2 score line in our favour involved, but from a purely footballing perspective, it’s an interesting one.

What about you? What would you do? Take aside the fact the two clubs and fan bases wouldn’t accept it. Ignore the fact that the police would probably reject it because of the extra cover each week that would be needed. Set aside the reality that there would be a section of their ‘fans’ that are more animals than human and would probably rip up seats and ruin part of the surrounding area. Base your answer purely on footballing terms. Now what would you do?

By the way, there’s no way I’m answering my own question, before you ask! Bloggers prerogative and all that.

Gary Neville is also in the press giving United a bit of a hammering over the Welbeck sale. I must say, whilst unsure at first over the signing, the more and more that people with an affiliation to United speak out against the sale, the more I am beginning to wonder if we’ve had a bit of a touch overall. Especially given that Neville also mention the price that we have received for Welbeck. £16million for a young English player is a decent chunk of change, but at 23 he still has his best years ahead of him and could easily be worth double that in a couple of years time if he makes himself a success at The Arsenal.

There are no so many people formerly associated with United that are baffled by the signing, that each time it buoys me a little bit more, so hopefully we can see Fergie crying into his Rioja at some stage during the rest of this season.

That’s about all I have for today I’m afraid. Unfortunately the bloody iPhone has decided it won’t operate in a landscape mode as I type, so my thumbs are rebelling and starting to get a little bit niggle, which means they will have to face a late fitness test to be ready for tomorrow.

Arrivederci brothers and sisters.

Tempering the striker euphoria, but only just

Come on, admit it, when was the last time you even mustered so much as a grunt towards an England goal before last night, eh? It’s ok, we’re amongst friends here, you can tell me.

Mine was probably all those years ago when Theo netted his hat trick against Croatia. Since then, I’ve seen countless Eng-ger-land goals and only occasionally mustered a smirk.

Not last night though. Last night I found myself actually cheering as Danny Welbeck lift the ball above the Seiss ‘keeper in stoppage time to pick up his second goal of the night. It wasn’t me who thought it first (although I wish I did), but somebody on my Timeline was quick to point out the actual style of the finish itself, which was – dare we say it – Henryesque. The opening of the body, the little lift over the ‘keeper whilst still keeping the ball relatively close to the bottom of the net, it was all very neat and tidy from a player that we have been told over the last week isn’t really that natural a goalscorer.

The post-match punditry on ITV was of course effusive in its praise of Welbeck, even going as far as to suggest that perhaps he has a new lease of life at a new club and a new role as a central striker, but I’m going to try not to fall into the trap of going too overboard just yet. After all, it’s one game, not even for Arsenal. Welbeck knows the players around the England team far better than he knows his Arsenal teammates, so I won’t be calling on him to bag a hat trick against Moneychester City this weekend.

But for us all, at least, we were treated to a glimpse of what could potentially come to pass. A pacey striker who will get goals in the lengthy absence of Giroud. A ready-made centre forward who won’t have any trouble adapting to the English game.

We must avoid the temptation to go overboard in hailing the second coming of a new messiah, but when faced with the bleakness of an international break, any small bit of positive news can easily be pounced upon in the absence of The Arsenal. I am finding it hard not to get excited for this weekend if I’m honest. I can’t really help it. Despite talking in this blog previously about how sometimes people get swept up in the ‘shiny and new’ and ignore what’s on their doorstep (a feeling that perhaps is shared amongst a few United fans this morning?), the euphoria of a new signing scoring goals and looking the part has that little something extra about it. It’s probably because the possibilities remain endless at this moment in time. As a football fan, you always try to look at the positive possibilities before any action happens. Ask any football fan of any club the week before the new season and their overriding emotion will be one of ‘hope’. The Welbeck arrival has given us all hope that we have found a striking piece to the puzzle that was so obviously incomplete against Leicester over a week ago.

Welbeck had a decent game, but he also showed that he wasn’t the complete article just yet, as he could have had an assist to his name in the first half after a great run was followed up by a poor ball to Sterling. But let’s not dwell on the negative, let’s just look at the positives of the performance, of which I thought Wilshere also came out ok. He wasn’t his best, but he proved effective in distribution and looks like he’s getting better all the time.

But this wasn’t just a night for the English contingent at The Arsenal, as Yaya Sanogo was to prove, bagging himself another goal for the French under-21s to prove that actually, it turns out he does know what to do when confronted by that square box with a white outline and net attached.

Tonight it’s Rambo’s turn in international competition and, having seen most of our players seemingly come through unscathed for this break, the hope is that he doesn’t succumb to the Arsenal international duty injury curse. Saturday’s game will be vital to have him in the team and, with Mesut Özil pulling out of German national duty, the creative spark in midfield could really do without being blunted by losing another one of our star midfielders.

I think I’ll save any more thoughts for today, as from tomorrow the international noises should quieten down a bit and afford us some time to look at Arsenal and nothing else.

You stay super.

Where we want to see ‘Welbz’, plus some Arsène thoughts

Morning you lot, hope you’re coping fine without your weekly Arsenal fix of football, thanks to this wretched international week. It does feel as if it’s dragged on a bit, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, my weekend was preoccupied with the wedding of my brother, so I was able to offset the lack of Arsenal goodness with copious levels of beery goodness. So it was a fine way to ignore all things football because, let’s face it, even the gutter press are still going on about it and still bemoaning the lack of cutting edge and guile the English national team has.

They must be all a-quandary at the moment. I mean, this England team with all of the ‘world class’ Liverpool players that formed the bulk of it in the summer, we’re a sure-fire bet to be successful no? Or could it be that the Liverpool friendly corners of the footballing world have what Arsène might call ‘little bit blinkers’ on?

Who knows. What I do know is there is another one of those qualifiers this evening and England take on the might of Switzerland with their opening group match. I’ll probably watch it, I must admit, but only because of this possibility of seeing Danny Welbeck being given a chance as a centre forward. As good as it is to get a look at our shiny new player, seeing him play on the left isn’t exactly what you and I are interested in, so the timely injury to Sturridge at least gives us the chance to look at him.

Hopefully he has a good game. Maybe I was reading a little too much into his cameo last week, but he looked very lively and confident when he came on against Norway, perhaps buoyed by the fact that he is going to be playing Champions League football this season. Who knows. What I would like to see is plenty of running – or at least attempted runs – in behind the Swiss back four, because that’s what we haven’t had enough of with Giroud leading the line. Welbeck will back himself with pace and as a result he’ll be happier to play as a central striker looking to make runs off the shoulder of the two centre-halfs. For the purposes of my own sanity in watching the tedium that is international football, I think I’ll just pretend that the Swiss central defensive pairing are Kompany and Demichelis, which will start to get me excited about next weekend’s game.

We might even see Arsène at next weekend’s game you know. He’s in hiding from the PR team since Welbeck was signed. I think he’s deliberately testing their patience by globe trotting around the world over the international break. I’ve seen a couple of bloggers over the last week, talk about the fact that Arsène hasn’t spoken about Welbeck yet, speculating about the unusual situation that has befallen this particular signing. I agree that it’s not the norm, but rather than throw my lot in with the conspiracy theorists, I think that the most simplest of explanations is probably the most likely: he hasn’t had time.

I know that might seem like a bit of a cop-out response, but over the last week he has taken part in a charity football match in Rome, been part of a professional football managers gathering (I forget where) in which most of the top managers were present, plus I’m sure he’s been commentating for French TV on Les Bleu’s games over the last few days. Whether or not you feel he should be doing this is a different point entirely. And yes, I’m sure he could just pick up the phone and give the press team some soundbites to use. But we all know Arsène is a man who likes control, so I suspect he will give his interview about Welbeck over the next few days and we’ll all be able to over-analyse every word then.

The only other piece of Arsenal news filtering through over the last couple of days is that Theo is scheduled to return for the Spuds game in a few weeks time. Although personally, I’m not sure if it’s quite ‘news’ given that most Arsenal fans I had spoken to over the last month or so have also said that he’s been targeting that game, so quite why this is suddenly new I’m a little confused over, if I’m honest. I suppose with our luck on ‘little setbacks’, to hear that a player is actually going to be back on his scheduled return date, is actually quite a novel and exciting thing. So on that basis, ‘yay!’ and all that jazz.

Anyway, time for me to clock off for a day, so you have a good one and I’ll speak to thee tomorrow.

Not even new signing excitement could avoid the tedium

Happy Thursday is wished unto thee, as you like I, battle the tedium that is an international break.

We’re fully into the festering swamp that is internationals now, so there’s no point on looking back and discussing football of weekends past, we just have to keep our eyes on the prize and focus on the visit of Moneychester City to The Emirates on Saturday week.

Last night I made the epic mistake of tuning in to about 40 minutes worth of England Vs Norway and, perhaps surprisingly, found some comfort in the game. The comfort came from the fact that my expectations and experiences of international football have not proven to be false and that it really is a total waste of time. 40,000 people (less than half the stadium) decided that they had nothing better to do in Wembley last night, but by the end of the 1-0 win there will hardly have been any people inside the stadium that would have felt it was a worthwhile journey.

A turgid England was only made more satisfying, for me as an Arsenal fan, by the noises that came from corners of the media saying that Wilshere had a decent game and that Welbeck made a positive impact when he came on for the last 20 minutes. Let’s just hope that all the Arsenal players can come back fit as a fiddle after the qualifying game against Switzerland.

I suppose one positive I can draw from this international break is that by playing a team like City straight after the internationals have finished, we will be playing against players that have also been on international duty, which means there is no additional advantage gained over a team that has had a week to put their feet up. I know that it shouldn’t really matter at this stage of the season, and that having international quality players is what you need in your team if you want to win things, but I’m looking for any sma victories here, so humour me folks.

So we got our first glimpse of Arsenal’s Welbeck yesterday, who looked like he had a spring in his step, if you don’t mind me saying. Perhaps he was buoyed by his transfer and the prospect of finally getting a chance to play as a central striker? Whatever it was, he looked pretty decent and having had his first interview posted on the official site in the afternoon, he’s already endearing himself to fans like me with his comments.

Whilst recognising he spent a lot of time at United, he was very focused on all things Arsenal and the future, perhaps even being slightly dismissive of his past if I do say so myself. And I do. Because that’s what I want to hear and it’s always better to believe what you want to believe, rather than what could be the reality, which includes the fact that having been in the United first team for many years he’ll have been media trained to BBC news anchorman standards.

Regardless of the likelihood that he was telling us what we wanted to hear, it was still good to hear him speak so glowingly about The Arsenal, watching them on TV all the time, admiring the style of football and imagining himself playing for us. What I also liked about his interview was the sense that he already felt part of the club, using the all encompassing ‘we’ to describe Arsenal as a team, the recent history, etc. It’s the little things, you know?

But actually, it’s what he started to touch on (admittedly with the help of the interviewer) when talking about the creative players that we have, that had me getting excited of the prospect of him being a success at the club this season and I the future. He talked about linking up with the midfielders, about getting in behind defences and about using his pace to bag himself a few goals. It was only a year ago to the day that you could look at our team and, Theo aside, wonder how many times the players we had could get in behind defences like the Arsenal teams of old. Now, with the additions of Welbeck, Sanchez and Campbell, there are multiple options with pace as well as Walcott. The hope is that we can use it to our advantage.

I hope he hits the ground running on Saturday week and I hope we see him bang in a debut goal. That would be special and give us all a massive lift.

There’s not really a lot else to report on. It was nice to see Chambers get some minutes on the pitch towards the end of the match yesterday, plus the Ox got another good run out after injury last season and despite the fact he didn’t have the best game in the world, he will need time to rediscover his potency in the attacking third of the pitch so I’m not particularly worried about that. Jack will have also have felt good about getting another decent performance under his belt and, with all of the scrutiny he has over everything he does, it’s pleasing to see he’s essentially ignoring the morons in the media and getting his head down and working towards being the great player he can be. I still wonder how much game time he’ll get when Arteta, Ramsey and Özil are firing on all cylinders in the middle of the park, but it’s a concern for another day so I’ll park any further thoughts on that for now.

That’s yer lot from me today. Stay safe in this bleakest of international breaks.

A reason to watch international football???

Welcome to Wednesday, a Wednesday in which where we’d normally be counting down until the next Arsenal game, we’re thrust into the cruddyness of an international break with only the prospective of pointless friendlies to endure over the next couple of days. Oh, and don’t forget the nervous and worry about players coming back from international duty looking like C3-P0 after he’s stumbled across something he shouldn’t have.

We even had the hilarity of hearing that new signing Danny Welbeck picked up a knock in the last kick of training yesterday. Thankfully Woy has said he’s ok, but wouldn’t it just be classic Arsenal luck if we’d have found out he’s out for six weeks with an ankle sprain or something similar?

Of course I’m being a bit melodramatic, but that’s how I feel about international breaks, that they are designed to cause maximum breakages to Arsenal players. In fact, that’s probably why they call them ‘breaks’ and not ‘excursions’.

Anyway, we got our first glimpses of Welbeck in a new shirt yesterday and I must say I’m pleased. Pleased because it looks like he’s trimmed down his high flat-top haircut a bit and looks a little less like he should be a person of royalty from Bel-Air. It also means the only ridiculous haircut in the team is now Matthieu Debuchy (although Giroud’s loaf comes close), which I can handle if it’s just one of them. We’ve always had one you see, from the grease of Chamakh to the orange head of Ian Wright, there’s always been one nutter when it comes to styling the old barnet.

It’s number 23 that Welbeck will be wearing and I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping his Arsenal career is more akin to his predecessor of that number who played at centre half for Arsenal and England, rather than the one that waddled the wings of The Emirates and Russia only a few short years ago. The important thing is that he hasn’t got the dreaded number 18 shirt; a burden for which somebody really should have told Monreal of some of the players in recent past who had worn that cursed number. T’would be the morally decent thing to do you know.

How are you feeling about the internationals tonight though? Will you watch them? Me personally, I normally swear off them if I can (and when I get the Metropolitan Line home of an evening I really do quite literally ‘swear’, especially with all the ‘ENG-GER-LAND’ fans who turn up), but today I think I might actually tune in to England vs Norway. Roy has suggested that he’ll play Welbeck if he’s fit – albeit only for a limited amount of time – but that’s pretty much the only reason why I’ll be tuning in. You see, I have a reason to actually watch Welbeck a little more closely now, to scrutinise every touch and hope to see positive glimpses of what he could bring to The Arsenal. Before, he was just another dude in a white shirt, but now he’s an Arsenal boy it’s an opportunity to start making snap judgements before he’s even kicked a ball for his new club. It’s weird actually, as I was saying to Lulunix on Twitter yesterday, I literally cannot remember a game in which he has played and how he has played, such is my awesome ability to tune out on any noise from the football world that isn’t related to The Arsenal. The down side of which is that I now can’t really remember what sort of player we’ve got from United. The upside of course, as somebody pointed out to me when they said that Welbeck scored in the 8-2 defeat (for which I was on a plane at the time and so therefore have conveniently never had to watch) at Old Trafford, is that I can erase bad memories of Arsenal pretty darn well too.

We’re great at doing that, you see, us football fans. Forgetting quickly, snap judgements, etc – we’ve got all of that in our lockers.

I suspect he’ll get a maximum of a half tonight, so I’m not really going to be making any instant judgements, because he’ll probably not even start in his expected position for England. He’ll be shunted out to the left wing and will more than likely be less effective. Let’s hope though that he can come back unbroken and quite eager to prove himself against a former bitter Manchester rival in City.

Because it’s the tedium of the international break, there’s very little real other news going on, unless you count the Ox talking about learning from the World Cup experience. I’d wager that he didn’t learn that much by being in a sh*te team and not being fully fit, unless he learnt not to get injured, in which case he’d get two thumbs up from your humble narrator here.

That’s pretty much it for now. I was thinking about delving more deeply into the ‘how the bloody hell are Poldi and Campbell going to get a look in?’ debate, but I think I’ll save that for another day, as I could probably spend half my life pondering that particular conundrum.

Anyway, catch ya laters, potatoes.