Excuses, excuses + Arsecast 221

Isn’t it funny how different people see different things? I know opposing managers will see one incident in very different ways. For one it was a penalty, for the other his defender just got a touch of the ball.

But I’m genuinely curious as to how Alex McLeish thinks Arsenal players ‘conned’ Alan Hutton into getting sent off the other night. I know it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things but the way I saw it was this:

1 – Hutton clattered into the back of van Persie, leaving the Arsenal skipper on the ground.

2 – Hutton then stood over van Persie and used some Anglo-Saxon language

3 – The ref booked Hutton for the challenge

4 – There were some verbals between van Persie and Hutton, which is normal after that kind of an incident

5 – Hutton, having lost his rag, went in late and hard on Vermaelen who was heading into the Villa box and got another yellow. End of story.

McLeish said afterwards:

Van Persie waved at him in the tunnel – they conned him. Alan was conned and he should be experienced enough to just laugh in their face and just walk away. Maybe the Arsenal player lured him into it but I didn’t think he would get conned like that.

I just don’t get it. How did van Persie con Hutton into flattening him and then committing a foul on Thomas Vermaelen. Sure, Hutton lost his temper but that’s because he’s a half-witted thug and if van Persie was waving at him in the tunnel it’s because of what Hutton did, not anything he did. Let’s not forget that Hutton is no stranger to the physical side of the game – ask Shane Long. I guess he was conned into that act of violence too.

It’s all well and good McLeish saying Hutton should know better but providing him with a ready made excuse for his thuggery means somebody else will suffer sooner or later at the feet of this clogging moron. How about genuine criticism of a player who actually deserves it instead of trying to pass the blame elsewhere? Won’t be holding my breath for that one however.

Anyway, moving on from peanut head and his unfortunate looking, now suspended right back, the captain isn’t writing off a title challenge yet, even though he knows there’s a lot to do. He says:

It is still early – I think we have only played 17 games now – so we’re not even halfway. Anything can happen in this league. The way we look at it is that we challenge for every single game.

Which is exactly the right attitude to have even if I guess most of us don’t see quite enough depth to this squad to mount a real title challenge.  Once again though he’s praised the influx of experience in the team and says it’s been beneficial on and off the pitch:

I have to give lots of credit to Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Yossi Benayoun as well. Everyone was so pleased for Yossi, he works hard in training and gives everything. They are great characters and they’re really helpful in every area.

The rest of the interview in the Mirror is well worth a read and the more you hear from van Persie the more you get the sense he is, despite a prickliness on the pitch (which is only directed at opponents, in fairness), one of football’s good guys. He works for the team, the team works for him and he’s mature and diplomatic enough to deal with questions like the one about the captaincy. It’s touched on in today’s Arsecast but it really does seem as if that role has fully rounded him out as a player and person which is why it would be such a big shame if his term with the armband was as short as we fear it might be.

From a footballing point of view we’ve got to look ahead now to Wolves which takes place 24 hours later than first scheduled because of the tube strikes. Obviously it was a difficult decision for the club to have to make. Arsenal, perhaps more than any other club, are reliant on the underground to get fans/staff to and from the ground, and it would have made life very difficult, but not impossible, on the 26th.

All the same, there are a lot of fans who are now seriously out of pocket; whose flights, trains and other travel tickets are now essentially useless (not to mention their match tickets) and overall it’s a disappointing situation for them. Of course, there are others who can now go because of the availability of public transport but maybe it’s a decision that could have been made earlier once the threat of the strike was first mooted (a couple of months ago I believe).

Anyway, whenever it happens we’ve got to make sure we pick up 3 points and start building another winning run. The manager has to decide whether to rest players for this one or the game against QPR on the 31st but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes for Wolves.

There are still issues at the back and we might get more from Arsene on them at his press conference later this morning. There’s talk that Kieran Gibbs could be out for another 4 weeks which would make a move for a full back seem sensible. Provided, of course, that full back wasn’t Wayne Bridge whose name is being bandied about this morning again. I hope Arsene is asked directly about it and I hope he laughs out load, and perhaps rolls on the floor whilst doing so, at the very idea of it.

And lest we forget, with Gervinho and Chamakh off to the ACN, the recruitment of a forward player is something of a necessity too. Who that might be is anybody’s guess. Does he trawl the market looking for a purchase, or a loan, or maybe, just maybe he might take a trip down memory lane and find a solution closer to home. We shall see. Details of the presser throughout the day on Arseblog News.

Now then, onto this week’s Arsecast and joining me to discuss the week that was are both Andrew Allen and Tim Stillman (of this very parish and beyond). On the agenda, Man City, Villa, full backs, Wojciech Szczesny and more. As well as that Internet Joe rounds up the week and Andrei Arshavin sings a festive song – not forgetting the winner of our Savile Rogue scarf competition.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (28mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

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Right then, that’ll have to do for today. A busy morning ahead so check the news site for stuff throughout the day and I’ll be back tomorrow for a pre-Christmas blog.

Till then.