Apologies for a lack of posts over the last week or so. Things have been busy at work, but luckily it is easing off a bit on that front as things begin winding down for the Christmas and New Year break.
So, what has happened since my last post? Well, we are now in the Carling Cup semi final with a nice draw against Ipswich. I think that we can be very happy with that as they are arguably the worst team left in the competition, although West Ham give them a good run for their money on that front.
The weekend saw us see off Fulham after a very classy display front Nasri, who now sees his goal tally for the season hit double figures. A very good return for a midfielder before we hit the mid point of the season. Perhaps he is ready to fill the goal scoring void from midfield that was left after the departures of Pires and Ljungberg. It is certain that his finding a rich vein of form couldn’t have been better timed as our captain struggles with both fitness and form. Nasri’s form and goals have been a huge factor in our league position this season. Oh, yeah, did I mention that we are top of the league?
The month of December will tell us a lot about our chances of any major silverware this season. Next up, we have a massive Champions League games against Partizan, a game that we must win in order to ensure qualification to the knock-out stages. I think that it will be vital to progress into the next round in order to maintain a high level of confidence going into the ManUre game at Old Trafford next Monday and the visit of Chavski on the 27th. Both of those league games are ones that we must not lose, the latter being one that we really have to get all three points in.
Bad news is that Vermaelen is now wearing a protective boot in order to help his achilles heal faster. It strikes me as strange that they haven’t tried that already, given that he has been out for ages and that he is the best defender that we have. Fingers crossed that he will return to the side early in the new year. However, Vermaelen’s loss is Djourou’s gain and the Swiss has been getting a lot more playing time than he otherwise would have anticipated before the season kicked-off.
I imagine that Wednesday’s game will see us line up with Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, RvP, Arshavin and Chamakh.
I think that there is a big question mark over the involvement of Koscielny after the concussion that he picked up in the game at the weekend after a clash of heads with Squillaci in the build-up to Fulham’s equaliser. Perhaps he will be fit enough for a place on the bench, if not we could see Nordveit there.
There were some worrying comments from Wenger in today’s Mirror with regard to our defence. Now, nobody expects him to hammer the defence, especially in public but, for him to come out and say that the defensive issues aren’t all that important if you still win the game is something that I truly hope that he doesn’t actually believe. If he does believe that, then it just validates my comparison of the team (a week or two ago) to Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle or Real Madrid during the Galactico era. It seems that we actually DO now rely on scoring more than the opposition. I know that to win any game you have to outscore the opposition, but our philosophy totally disregards any chance of keeping a clean sheet. I really hope that the manager is just trying to offer support to the team and instill more confidence in them, but there is a growing and very worrying feeling that he actually believes it. This is when he needs a good team of coaches around him and a strong assistant that will take him to one side and have a quiet word in his ear, telling him that our defence has been rubbish for a few years now. Arsene, get it sorted. Comments on our defence like ‘It takes a few heartbeats, but if you get the three points it’s OK’ make me bloody angry. It’s ridiculous that our defensive strength is be put down to consistency rather than the quality and ability of the players filling the defensive positions.
Anyway, our remaining fixtures this calendar year are:
Dec 8th - (H) Partizan Belgrade (19:45 GMT / 04:45 JST)
Dec 13th - (A) ManUre (20:00 GMT / 05:00 JST)
Dec 18th - (H) Stoke (15:00 GMT / 00:00 JST)
Dec 27th - (H) Chavski (20:00 GMT / 05:00 JST)
Dec 29th - (A) Wigan (19:45 GMT / 04:45 JST)
Looking at those fixtures, we really need to win all of the home games, along with the game away to Wigan. I’d settle for a draw away at ManUre. I think that if we can come through this month unbeaten, then we will be well positioned for a title challenge and a run at the Champions League going into the new year.
Right, that’ll have to do for today. Take it easy.