Morning you wonderful people. With no Arsenal on today I’m hitting full on Wham, Christmas Jumper, crazy Kate Bush song listening Christmas mode today and getting myself a tree and a ‘little bit turkey and stuffing’ to have a pre-Christmas dress rehearsal with a couple of mates and The Management.
As for The Arsenal, we heard from Arsene yesterday who spoke after visiting the Teenage Cancer Trust HQ with The Ox, with the players having donated a days wages. We all know that its small fry for millionaires, but you cannot argue that it isn’t anything short of a great gesture. Arsenal have always been very good with their charity work and in an age where football is often pelted with abuse about the materialistic and money-driven ethos that emanates from all corners of the professional game, it’s good to see some positivity can be gained from clubs like Arsenal.
Such is the continuity of the side at the moment and lack of back page headlines the media can pick up on, that even the team news isn’t very exciting these days. You won’t find this Gooner complaining though. Let’s continue to be as low-key as possible, keep knocking out results week-in, week-out and then emerge in May with a trophy tucked safely under our arms. Or somewhere within Arsene’s mobile sleeping bag unit he calls a coat. Jenkinson will continue to deputize until Man City with Sagna out and it’s a chance for him to build more confidence against Everton. He’ll no doubt have a tougher game than Wednesday night, but the hope is that the lack of Baines at left back will ensure that it’s not as tough as it could have been.
Arsene also spoke about the ‘big warnings’ that we’ve been getting from some of the defeats of the bigger teams just before we play the smaller teams in the division, citing the Hull victory over Liverpool and the Everton victory over United as an example to his players to be on their guard, and I think he’s right to some extent. Those two victories against Liverpool and United will serve as a stark reminder to the players that you can’t take anything for granted, least of all this season, so it’s important that each match is approached in the right attitude. It’s that kind of maturity from the players that I think is one of the major changes this season in comparison to seasons past. The players seem to have – to date anyway – approached the game not just with confidence, because too much of that can lead to your own downfall, but with an understanding and knowledge of the potential damage each opponent can do. There’s been a sense at times this season that whilst we could probably go ‘hell for leather’ and try to rack up a big score against teams like Hull, for example, we have just held back a little bit and be contented to first ensure the defensive stability and clean sheet and make sure that the game is well and truly won by snuffing out any opposition threat. I think that’s the best way to play against any of the teams from 8th in the division downwards; suffocating them of any belief they can get from a game by being very scrooge-like in defence and building our victories on that stability.
This is the first of a series of really tough games, and thankfully Arsene and the team knows it, having praised the work that Martinez has achieved so far this season with Everton. He was very complimentary about Everton and spoke about their consistency of players but also adding some good players in other positions. Again he’s right and without wanting to sound patronising to Everton, I wonder if there is an element of ‘Arsenal-Lite’ about them i.e. building from a solid and stable team, adding good players and developing a fantastic team attitude to add to the mix. That’s where we’re at right now and so the game on Sunday should be a really good one to watch (with an Arsenal win at the end of it, obviously!).
Arsene talked about the loan system too, particularly when you have a ridiculous situation with Lukaku playing on loan whilst still contracted to Chelski, putting his support behind allowing the loaned player to play against his parent club. Personally whilst I can see where Arsene is coming from, I don’t agree that a player should be playing against his parent club, as I think it creates too much controversy, particularly for the player. Imagine if Lukaku could play against Chelski and scored a goal on the last game of the season against them that sees the club lose the league title. Hilarious for us, I know, but imagine it was Sanogo on loan to Norwich this season and he scores against us? He could have had an amazing season, be a great prospect and one that up until that game is banging in goals, looking like being a main player next year. How could he come back to Arsenal and not get stick from the fans if our own player cost us the Premier League title? The next argument there would be to say ‘ok, well in that case, if that circumstance happened, the club would agree that he wouldn’t play’. So what would happen if Norwich have to get a point or a win to stay up and the only guy banging in goals every game is Sanogo? There would undoubtedly be a club vs club row about his eligibility. It’s for reasons like that for which I think the current loan system in terms of playing against parent clubs is right. What is wrong with the system is players like Lukaku playing for Everton for a season, but I suppose I shouldn’t really be complaining too much, because Jack Wilshere was able to develop into the player he is today with the help of a loan to a Premier League club, so you can’t have one rule of one club and another rule for another just because the loaning team is being so competitive at the top of the division.
Anyway, not much more to say on that so I think I’ll call it a day for now and come back to you tomorrow with a match preview.