Good morning ladies and gentlemen and I give you a London powered:
Today the football returns and we’ve got Blackburn Rovers at home. Team news is that van Persie and Bendtner are fit and will join returnees Cesc, Theo, Diaby and Song, so that’s good news. Aaron Ramsey misses out because of a troublesome groin but every silver lining has a cloud and as clouds go that’s not the worst of them.
The boss has to decide how he brings back the players that have been out for a while. I think he’ll start Cesc and Song but might well leave Theo on the bench until later. Or he might leave Cesc until later. But not Song. Anyway, I don’t think he’ll start all three.
In terms of the goalkeeper he confirmed that Manuel Almunia will start, saying:
I can announce that today, he will be in goal. He looks in good shape in training and Jens gives him good competition. The best thing is put in a good performance in the next game.
It’s good that he’s clarified things. The last thing Manuel needs is uncertainty. He needs the reassurance of knowing he’s going to play and hopefully that will result in a not completely awful decent performance. He’s a man who looks haunted and tired at the best of times, we need to get him in something approaching a decent frame of mind.
So, if I had to guess I’d say the team will be: Almunia – Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy – Song – Wilshere – Cesc – Nasri – van Persie – Arshavin
It leaves us with a bit in reserve, should we need it, and we’re going to have to really scrap to get the points today. I know Blackburn’s away record is terrible but we have the knack of helping other teams turn around their terribleness.
They are battling relegation so their main objective will be to come away with at least a point and if they can sucker-punch us then all the better. Defensively we need to be alert and solid but above that we’ve got to make sure that our attacking game has a cutting edge. Last season this fixture ended up 6-2 after we’d been behind twice. The goals were plentiful and made up for some dodgy keeping/defending.
I don’t have a huge amount of faith that we’ll keep a clean sheet today but if we can take our chances when they come then I think we’ll take the points. Robin van Persie has a good scoring record against Blackburn and I were a man to stake the odd pound, like our esteemed ‘holicy chum, then that’s where I’d put it today.
Meanwhile, after saying he wouldn’t really speak about Jack Wilshere and the England U21s until the right moment, Arsene obviously decided yesterday’s press conference was that moment. Asked about his participation in the summer tournament Arsene expressed his fears over ‘burn out':
You know this car will hit the wall at some stage and you see it a little bit earlier than somebody who has less experience. I think, in the world, nobody has brought more young players through than I have and I have a good experience of what kind of stages they go through.
And then suggested that national pride really is no reason to choose a player who has made the senior national team for the U21s:
If I ask you to give me the winners of the World Cup since it has been created, I am sure you will give me them all. If I ask you to give me the winners of the Under-21s tournaments, you will struggle. That means the basic target is to get the players ready to play in the first team, once they play there it is less useful. It is in the interests of the FA as well that Wilshere is protected
And it really is impossible to argue with that. We all know that picking Jack this summer will deprive him of the proper rest he needs, especially as England will more than likely be playing in the Europeans next summer. However, trying to tell Stuart Pearce that not picking him would be beneficial would be kind of like Mrs Blogs telling me last night that I really did not need that one more beer. He just won’t listen.
The only solution available to the manager if Jack plays this summer is to give him time off when the season starts. From an Arsenal point of view that’s obviously not ideal but we really don’t have any choice. So when we go into next the start of next season Jackless you know where to direct your ire.
Beyond that there’s a bit of transfer tittle-tattle about but considering what lies ahead, and the fact we can’t sign anyone between now and the end of the season, I think that can wait until the summer.
Remember, later on there’ll be live blog coverage of the game with thanks to my pal from 7amkickoff, so if you can’t see the game for whatever reason he’ll keep you right up to date. Check back later on for a post with all the details and if you fancy a pound or two on the game you’ll find the best odds from a range of bookies on our Arsenal Odds page.
So, for now that’s about that. The time has come for breakfast, a shower and then the annual Arseblog 5s. The Green team are the reigning champions so we’ve got to go out there and defend our trophy like cunts. From all the other cunts. They’re good cunts though, not the John Terry kind.
Fingers crossed for two results today. See some of you at the 5s, some more of you at the Tollington pre-game, and let’s hope that the Arsenal can get themselves motoring again today. And United lose. And I find £50.
It’s not too much to ask. Till tomorrow.