Tonight sees us take on Braga at the Emirates and it is a game that we really need to win in order to get our Champions League campaign off to a good start. We need to hit the ground running. The team needs to be careful though, because it won’t be any easy game and Braga have already dispatched of some decent sides (Celtic and Sevilla) to get to this stage, so I imagine that the pre-game team talk will involve a warning to not mess around and to take the game seriously.
On the injury front, we will be without Diaby whole is currently out for an undetermined period of time. At the moment, only the next two games have been confirmed. Though, when it comes to our players, and Diaby in particular, I think that we can expect it to be a minimum three or four week layoff. We don’t do short term injuries. That’s not how we roll. I guess we should just consider ourselves lucky that his leg didn’t end up destroyed like Eduardo’s or Ramsey’s. The art of tackling is certainly a dying one, if not already dead. The player himself was certainly a lot more laid back about the tackle than I would be if I were on the receiving end of that it:
“I will miss our first game in the Champions League but to be honest I am lucky to only miss two or three games, I really thought I would be out for a long time. Bolton is a very physical team and to be honest the tackle was a strong one, but it is Premier League football, people are committed, so it is fine for me.
I hope the team start the Champions League with a victory, the first game in any competition is always very important.”
The terms ‘physical team’ or ‘committed team’ is British newspaper speak for ‘dirty.’ At least that statement won’t allow the likes of Pulis to come out with his ‘moaning like a drain’ rubbish.
The manager has again called for more protection for players, but you get the feeling that the empty-headed English managers and media will get all xenophobic and say that there is no need for something to be done and that Wenger and Arsenal are a team of softies. That kind of attitude drives me nuts and I really don’t think that anything will be done until one or more of the current England squad are put out of the game for an extended period of time.
“The tackle was very bad. I cannot protect the players; only the FA can do that. I love the English game but people are more interested in controversy than protecting the players. Why should I create another story? You asked me how the tackle was and it was bad. But I don’t know if my views are taken seriously. Diaby has been injured from an unfair tackle. I’ve watched it 10 times and it is an unfair tackle. But people just think I’m protecting my players by saying that and that I have a [vested] interest.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes my players commit bad fouls. Yet the beauty of the game is down to the fact that you play with commitment, with passion but also with the right intention. If you have a good sliding tackle where the player takes the ball, it’s as good to see as a player scoring a goal. But when a guy closes his eyes and jumps with anger it’s not right.
I’m not enough, alone, to change things. Managers, referees, people who watch games, even journalists have to take responsibility. It’s a matter of respecting the rules. The problem is that, when I say it, it is only considered ‘controversial’ and it is just ‘Wenger, Wenger, Wenger, Wenger’.”
The problem is a mixture of racism and stupidity, the former by the media and the latter by stupid pundits like Mark Bright that come out with statements along the lines of ‘I’d rather be elbowed in the face than spat upon.’ That’s the kind of idiocy that you are up against and it’s the type of stupidity that gets broadcast on TV and radio and then absorbed by the average fan. There is nothing wrong with a physical game, that’s what we love to see but it has to be played with the right attitude and desire. Players need to try to win the ball rather than rough up their opponent. I truly believe that if the likes of Kevin Davies were not English he would have umpteen red cards to his name but, as he is English, he just isn’t that kind of player. (I should point out that I am not anti-English, I’m against xenophobia, especially when it gets in the way of improving the game.)
Anyway, rant done. Tonight should see the recall of Sagna and Clichy to the defense and that would see us line up with Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy at the back. In midfield, I expect us to line up with Song, Fabgreas, Nasri, Eboue and Arshavin with Chamakh again plowing the lone furrow up front. Well, that’s the team that I would go with, but the manager may well decide to go with Denilson instead of Nasri to offer a bit more defensive stability. Though I am sure that Rosicky will also be hoping to get a start. Vermaelen is still unavailable with his achilles injury.
There is an interview with Chamakh on the FIFA website where he talks about life so far at the club.
Here’s hoping that we take all three points tonight and that my waking up at 03:45 to watch the game will be worthwhile.
Take it easy.