Finally, game day has arrived. Today sees us take on Middlesbrough at the Emirates in a 13:30 early kick-off, 21:30 JST. This game is big for two reasons. First, we want to make fourth place rock solid and, second, because Chelsea won yesterday we must get the three points should we still harbour any hopes of catching them for third spot. I think that it will be very hard for us to get that third spot at this stage, but with us still having to play Chelsea, you just never know. So, we must win today for that dream to be possible.
Will be keeping it short today as time is not on my side. Typical that we have an early Sunday kick-off on a day when I have to go to Tokyo in the evening. With a bit of luck I’ll be able to get the pub to stick the game on. If so, The Black Sheep in Ikebukuro will be added to my page of football-friendly bars in Tokyo.
Team news is that Van Persie is definitely out. Adebayor, Almunia and Djourou may all return. Though at the time of writing I still have no confirmation of whether or not Djourou will be in the squad. The former two should make the squad, though I don’t expect Adebayor to start. The most likely starter would be Almunia and the boss has a decision to make there whether to risk him or not. The need for sharpness ahead of the ManUre game will have to be weighed up against the possibility of a recurrence of his injury by perhaps playing him slightly earlier than he should. That said, I hope he starts. That’s not because i don’t like Fabianski but because we need our number one back between the sticks to restore some order and calm to the defence.
I am looking forward to seeing what starting eleven the boss chooses. Will he go with Song or Silvestre alongside Toure in defence? Will he play four or five across the middle? I suspect, given our injuries and players returning from injury in attack, that he will go with Bendtner up front on his own, with Arshavin drifting in from out wide to play just off him. I think Fabregas and Walcott could drop to the bench in order to be rested for the ManUre game, thus leaving us will a likely midfield of Arshavin, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri and possibly Vela, whom we haven’t seen for a while now. Who knows, the boss may also go with Bendtner out wide and Eduardo up front. The results of the Villa and Everton games yesterday certainly take some of the pressure off us for this game, though Boro will be fighting for their lives and will make life difficult for us, without a doubt. Their recent record against us isn’t too bad, so we shouldn’t take them lightly just because they seem destined for relegation.
Fabregas talks about the respect he has for ManUre here and let’s hope that we walk away from Old Trafford with them being in awe of our Blitzkrieg style attacking football. It’s such a shame that Arshavin won’t be available for the game. It’s a situation which doesn’t really make any sense. Why have a transfer window in mid-season if some players you buy can’t play for you in all competitions? Fair enough, if we buy someone from Zenit and then play Zenit, then maybe he should be cup-tied. But, against any other team than the team you buy the player from, he should be eligible to play. However, with Blatter and Platini in charge of the two governing bodies, I don’t think that that rule will be changing anytime soon. Everything those two men do seems to be aimed at dumbing-down and destroying the level of competition. It’s like when you drive through a safari park and the monkeys come over and try to throw shit at, or pull shit off, your car. Those two guys are the monkeys. Monkeys are evil.
The boss makes a good point that due to the new taxation system in place in England combined with the collapse of Sterling against the Euro could lead to an exodus of the top level players as they seek pastures new, which are more financially agreeable. Fifty percent take is pretty steep in any profession but if you have the choice between paying fifty percent tax in England or, through some loophole abuse, twenty-five percent in Spain, it’s a bit of a no-brainer what is likely to happen. You couldn’t blame someone for wanting to pay twenty-five percent less tax. If someone came to me tomorrow and offered me the choice of paying fifty percent tax and stay where I am, or to move and pay just twenty-five percent, I know what my decision would be. Let’s hope it’s just people like Ronaldo that up-sticks and leave. I believe that our own players are paid well enough, especially considering their age and achievements in terms of silverware, to protect us from this but at the same time you just never know. The Chavs could be hit hardest of all as they are a team populated by mercenaries and cunts.
I like this line from the Guardian about the ManUre and Arsenal rivalry of old, ‘It was cocks of the north against southern not-so-softies, more often than not with trophies being tossed between the two of them.’ Cocks they are, no doubt about it. Especially exhibit A below, on whom Vieira had this to say:
“Personally, I can’t stand the sight of Van Nistelrooy. Everything about him annoys me. He’s always complaining, whingeing. The man is a cheat and a coward. Everyone thinks he’s a nice guy but in fact he’s a son of a bitch.”
I thought I’d better put the picture in along with the quote just so people wouldn’t confuse old Horse Head with Cashley, though you could just substitute their names in Vieira’s quote and it’d still be true.
I miss the days of Vieira and Keane going toe-to-toe. Those ties had real passion and fight. Let’s hope Fabregas can get something going with Ronaldo in midweek, as long as it doesn’t result in a suspension for Cesc. I want to be able to really hate ManUre again, I miss that loathing. I mean, I still hate them but it’s always better when you are real rivals and challenging each other for silverware.
Theo Walcott has hailed Diaby as being one of the most skilful players at the club. Perhaps he should have added ‘and laziest’ to that statement, too. There’s no doubting that Diaby has skill, if he can just merge that skill with an equally high work-rate then he will develop into some player. As it stands, he is someone who often frustrates and flatters to deceive. Injuries have undoubtedly played a big part in this, so let’s hope he can stay injury-free and develop into the kind of player that the boss clearly feels, and the fans hope, he can become.
Fingers crossed for no fresh or recurring injuries today.
Right, that’s about enough for today. Roll on today’s game and another three points for the Gunners, all things going to plan. Thought it was going to be a short one today, but it’s the usual 1,200 or so words. I hope to get a post up tomorrow and Tuesday, but my work schedule may not allow it. I’ll try my best though.