a quick look ahead to Swansea today and we’ll start with the team news. Lukas Podolski is fit again and I suspect he’ll start, while Bacary Sagna is a ‘big doubt’ with an ankle problem picked up at Everton. That’ll mean another go for Carl Jenkinson and although I’m a big fan of the Frenchman, this is far from the most disruptive change we could have had forced upon us.
Beyond that I think, with Podolski in for Ramsey, it’ll be the same team that drew against Everton. It’d be nice to think we’ll come flying out of the blocks but after the effort put into Wednesday’s game I reckon it could be a slow starter. Which may or may not suit the mood but you would hope there’s some understanding of that.
Arsene Wenger is looking to pick up points in December with a run of fixtures that should give us every chance to do that:
We will come back. Now we have six games, four at home, and if we do well in this block I think we have a chance to come back. But of course it is vital for us to do well in these games.
That starts today with a Swansea team sitting comfortably in the top 10 and as manager Michael Laudrup says there’s no pressure on them whatsoever today. After one decent and one disappointing draw, it’s on us and we need the characters and leaders in the team to show up today. There are experienced players right throughout this team, and there’s enough quality to win it so it’s time for a response. The players will know that Villa in particular were points dropped and at home there can be no excuses.
Swansea’s style may well suit us, they’re not likely to be a team that will sit back so there’ll be space for us to exploit the bits of pace we have in the team. They have some dangerous players too, Michu has been eye-catching this season but hopefully our Spaniards will outshine theirs. Gibbs and Podolski link up again having started the season very well and hopefully that will provide a bit more balance to our attacking play.
It’s just very difficult to predict anything with this current Arsenal side. There’s the usual optimism, of course, a home game against ‘lesser’ opponents. And then you realise it’s a home game against ‘lesser’ opponents and the worries kick in. I think a good start would help settle us down, then I remember we went 2-0 up quite early on in the Fulham game. So, your guess is as good as mine.
I’m hopeful, but not exactly confident. I’m expectant, but vaguely worried too. This is the Arsenal of this moment in time. It’s going to take a run of results to change things but at the moment we’re unbeaten in six, even if four of them have been draws. A win today puts another of the pieces back, it’s going to be a slow process, and a testing one, but fingers crossed we can get ourselves going again today.
Come on you reds.
In other news, I heartily recommend this week’s column from Tim Stillman who talks about results and players, and the bit about the blind hatred for the likes of Aaron Ramsey should resonate with every right thinking fan:
I genuinely struggle to see how a figure such as Ramsey could invite such hatred. I understand people not rating him as a footballer, but the froth mouthed bile I hear aimed at him so regularly is confusing. He seems a nice enough lad. He doesn’t lack application, whatever you think of his competence. Eduardo returned from a horrific injury with his quality compromised and became a sympathetic darling of our affection for it.
When I posted the team for Wednesday night’s game on Twitter with Ramsey in the starting XI there were replies which ranged from weary acceptance to wishing him ill. And by ill I mean permanently, 6 feet under, kick the bucket ill. I get that people are frustrated by him but the lad hasn’t got a chance if that’s the reaction to his selection before the game has even started.
My personal feeling is that there’s a very good player somewhere in Aaron Ramsey and that if, and when, it clicks for him he’ll be like a new man. But there’s no denying that at the moment he’s got some problems with his game which are exacerbated by the fact that every time he does something wrong there are wails of dismay and anger. He knows it too, speaking recently he said:
The fans let you know when someone is not doing the right thing but they have to be patient and get behind the team and individuals. They have to realise that. It can be such a massive help.
And without needing to say it it’s obvious that he feels the pressure when things don’t go his way or when he makes mistakes. He’s not the only player who gives the ball away, but at the moment he’s the only one roundly abused for it. Now, I’m not saying people should be cheerleaders, happy-clapping their way through games regardless of what players do. There are standards that are expected when you play top level football and sometimes he doesn’t live up to them, but he never hides, never goes missing, never shies away from the ball or a tackle, and that to me is a sign of a guy with strong character and who can come through this difficult spell.
I could be totally wrong, those who say he’s shit or fucking shit or a fucking shit cunt or the knuckle-draggers who suggest he’d be better off being Shawcrossed again can have their moment in the sun, but even if he’s not up to it he doesn’t deserve the abuse meted out to him. I really want him to come good, but sometimes it goes beyond a point where it’s salvageable. A guy can play well for 89’58 and a 2 second moment where he misplaces a pass is all people see.
I hope it’s not gone that far with Ramsey, and ultimately it’s down to him to prove his worth. Arsene Wenger sees something in him, the same way he sees something in Wilshere or Jenkinson, the same way he saw something in a 2nd division French central defender that everyone now loves, so maybe with just a bit more understanding and a little less vitriol Arsenal Football Club might see the benefit of that.
What can Arsenal learn from Bill and Ted? Leopold Mendacious has the answer over on the real ANR.
There should be live blog coverage of the game later, but as it’s not on any TV channel from the 87,003 I have on my satellite box I’ll be stream reliant, so we’ll have to keep fingers crossed. You can bookmark the default live blog page and updates will begin automatically. If there are updates to be updated.
Time for some breakfast, here’s to three points later and an Aaron Ramsey winner. Hey, a man can dream.