For many people the low point of this season was the 8-2 at Old Trafford. And I get that completely. It was embarrassing but, you know, it was a freak. A one off. Something that’s never likely to happen again and entirely down to the fact that the manager took off the Coq. Without him we had no penetration, no balls and as a team we went flaccid without him to keep us stiff in the middle of the park.
For me, however, the worst game of the season was the one at Blackburn. We lead at half-time through Gervinho and Arteta but found ourselves 4-2 down thanks to some hopeless defending, a couple of ridiculous own goals and poor offside decision. Yeah, that was a bit freaky too, the likelihood of scoring two own goals in a game again is pretty slim, but that day was a much better illustration of our flaws.
We had our new players in situ, they hadn’t had time to bed in yet, but it just showed that Arsenal’s self-destruct button was there to be pressed by whoever was on the pitch. And the fact that Marouane Chamakh scored his only league goal since November 2010 just added to the surreal nature of the game. If a Charlie Chaplin impersonator had been sent on in place of Djourou, run up the wing, recited some beat poetry to the camera before slicing off his own head like a Monty Python animation I don’t think I’d have have batted an eyelid.
It was infinitely more annoying than Old Trafford, for me at least, and Robin van Persie also seems affected by it, saying:
There’s something we have to put right – our defeat up there in September was something that shouldn’t have happened in a million years. I still speak about it with the boys and in fact was talking with Mikel about it only a couple of weeks ago, because it was one of our most painful losses of the season and it still hurts to think about it.
Blackburn are a good side, but we took the lead twice and missed clear chances before scoring two own goals and losing the game. It should never have come to that, and we don’t want to make any such mistakes this time.
Which I’m glad to hear. I’m a fan of revenge on general. It doesn’t always come off, like the fact we didn’t get any for the 8-2 just a couple of a weeks ago, but that does not mean I don’t not want any now. Or something. Revenge is good. Just last week I was waiting for my Tuesday Astro game to kick off and a team that had beaten us earlier in the season were losing, the ball went over the fence to where I was standing and led to one of their players shouting at me to get them the ball back.
The fact that he had been a spectacularly annoying bastard during the defeat meant that I quite happily ignored him which meant one of their players had to come out and go get the ball, wasting their precious time. Petty? Yes. Spiteful? Absolutely. But revengey? Oh yeah. And I hope there’s a measure of that today with Arsenal. You might suggest that this team isn’t spiteful enough but today would be a good time to start.
In terms of the news there’s a ‘little worry’ about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has started the last three games, and Arsene says he’s tempted to rest Robin van Persie, saying:
I will rotate a little bit because many players have given a lot. With Van Persie the temptation is there.
We are in a situation at the moment where he is the main goalscorer, so I will maybe have to build a team that works around him.
I really don’t quite know how to tally those two sentences, to be honest, but he’s talking about Henry, Walcott or even Park to take Robin’s place. I’m guessing there’s a bit of red zone madness going on with the skipper because regardless of the opposition, resting him is like going into a room full of grumpy hooligans and saying ‘You know, I think I’ll leave my tazer outside’. Sure, you want to have faith that your other weapons might work but when your other weapons are a feather duster, an old tazer with its batteries flat, and a butter knife that thinks it’s an enchanted cutlass you might find life a bit tough.
All the same we have to be able to cope without one player. We’re at home, against a team we would probably expect to beat (perhaps misguidedly, but there you go), and if we can’t do it without Robin in these circumstances then it’d just add to the worries we already have. Three points today are absolutely vital. We just cannot afford to drop any more points and I hope that’s the attitude the team goes out with today.
I don’t know why but I quite fancy Arshavin to make a contribution today, maybe it’s sympathy, maybe it’s still last night’s hooch swilling around, but there you go. Anyway, let’s keep fingers crossed that things start to improve and start to improve today. And when the ball goes out for a Blackburn throw nobody gives it back to them. Then tazes them in the testicles. Come on you reds.
Right, that’s about that. All going well there’ll be live blog coverage of the game, check back later for details on that.