Happy Friday Arsenalites. It’s a man-flu infused one for me I’m afraid. I’ve been trying to see if the power of positive thinking coupled with outright denial would ‘think’ me well, but it hasn’t really happened, as the sopping hanky in my pocket would testify. Except it clearly can’t because it doesn’t have a mouth, or a tongue, or opposable thumbs.
Leaving mutant pieces of fabric to one side for a moment, we had Arsene’s usual pre-match presser ahead of what will be a real challenge away from home against Fulham tomorrow afternoon. He gave us an update on some injuries and it appears as though Fabianski is out injured now with a textbook bit of ‘wengjury’. That’s a word I just made up to describe the fitness of a player who’s place in the team is not guaranteed, but who would probably have hurt feelings if the world knew he was being replaced, so has been put into this ‘Wengjury’ stasis. I wonder if Physioroom.com would run a table of the Premier League clubs with players in this position? I bet we’d top the charts all year round. Then we wouldn’t have to argue amongst ourselves about whether fourth place is in fact a trophy. People would be happy, there would be dancing in the street and all kinds of frivolities would ensue. The truth is we have no idea how injured Fabianski was, is, or will be. Wenger even said that they are going ‘game-by-game’ on his injury. I do like the crafty old devil sometimes. It’s like a running joke that the world is involved in. I bet a few of the journos even looked around at each other and gave it the old ‘yeah right’. But there’s nothing they can do but report it as an injury. Everyone wins. Except Lukas if he really is injured with a cracked rib. In which case, he must wonder whether he should have been rooming with Diaby so much in his career, because his ‘injuryness’ is obviously wearing off a bit on him. It would be a harsh blow for a player who will have thought his time had finally come.
The rest of the squad will be assessed today says Le Gaffeur, with a few of them carrying knocks and bruises from the assault on The Emirates from the New Blue Stoke from Liverpool on Tuesday. I love the way Arsene described how he was going to review the situation today, saying “There are a number of uncertainties about our squad but I will sort that out on Friday morning”. It’s like Arsene’s gone all ruthless or something, real drill sergeant-like:
“YOU! BOY! HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY?”
“Oh, erm, I’m a little achy boss, if I’m honest”
“Achy? ACHY? No! You are fine. Or you are fined. And Per hasn’t been able to use his abacus for some time now so is itching to take some money.”
Hopefully they’ll all get through any of the bumps and bruises sustained by Wenger’s rigorous drills and we can expect a fully fit squad to choose from come Saturday lunchtime. There will be some big decisions needed to be made. I think the back five could possibly remain unchanged, with the exception of Monreal for Gibbs, who Wenger has talked about potentially playing higher up the field at some stage. I don’t know how high Arsene is thinking, because to my mind he’s not quite right for one of the three midfield positions, which probably only really leaves him a slot in one of the top three attacking positions. Logic would dictate that he would occupy the left wing position, but that would further beg the question on the future of Podolski and/or Gervhino. Personally, I’d be surprised to see it as a permanent thing, as I think Arsene has what he wanted right now in two good left backs fighting for a slot but it does provide us and him with some food for thought.
And finally from me today, some thoughts on The Ox, who Arsene also reserved a bit of praise for as well, saying that he has grown in stature this season and since January he has really improved. I guess The Ox is a classic example of how much hope we put into young players when they show flashes of brilliance and perhaps expect too much too quickly. I know I am guilty of it. The game last season against Milan at home was an eye opener for so many that he can be one of the worlds best, but at times earlier on this season he’s struggled a bit. The reality is that this is what you get with young players – he is still only 19 after all – and so that consistency of performance you see from a 30 year old pro that has been doing it for 12 years is not going to be found in a young lad still finding his way around top-flight professional stadia. The Ox has been looking better and better every time he plays and Arsene’s reluctance to play him every game and perhaps over use him is why he gets the best out of these types of players. We can all say what we want about his transfers, his substitutions and perhaps tactical naivety at times, but it’s hard to argue he doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to integrating a young player into the first team when he is ready to play regularly. Which position Alex will eventually play will be an interesting one, but at least we know he’ll be under the stewardship of a manager that will do it when it’s the right time.
That’s yer lot from me. I have a date with a desk and a computer sending online memos from one person to the next. Oh joy of joys.