I may have mentioned it before but I am not a fan of winter. If summer is Dennis Bergkamp, then winter is a Sheringham/Terry combo with a Dutch Skunk cherry on top. The older I get the more I hate it. Stupid coldness.
Anyway, after a week off without football we can start to look at what lies ahead. Obviously there’s the Champions League tie against Bayern, followed by a tricky trip to Swansea in the Premier League. I don’t think there’s any way it could become any more important, we need three points from as many of our remaining fixtures as possible, but after what happened at Anfield yesterday we have to take advantage.
Sp*rs were 2-1 up over a pretty poor Liverpool side and, frankly, I was just about to turn it off when Hugo Lloris was possessed by the ghost that lives in Almunia’s house, came out and missed the ball, and even Stewart Downing managed to score to put them level. Then Jermaine Defoe set up Suarez to take a tumble, Gerrard scored the penalty and all of a sudden they’re behind in a game they should have won comfortably enough.
As I’ve said previously I think they’re probably not capable of the same level of collapse as last season. They look a stronger team with a manager who doesn’t have his eye elsewhere, but the manner of their loss and how it was basically self-inflicted might just start the collywobbles. If we beat Swansea the gap is just 4 points, and they have a run of games against Swansea, Everton, Chelsea and Man City which will prove very testing indeed.
It’s the slight chance we’ve been looking for and even the fact the Mugsmashers are just 2 points behind us is irrelevant. We’ve got to set our sights on those ahead of us anyway, so it really doesn’t make that much difference. I’m not one of those who bemoans the fact we’re taking pleasure from others losing rather than us winning. That’s football for you. Even if you’re top of the league you can still enjoy the team in second dropping points, it is what it is.
If this were middle of the table stuff with no prize at the end of it, fair enough, but there is a place at Europe’s top table up for grabs; as such every little thing that goes our way is all right by me.
Moving back to the more pressing matter of Munich on Wednesday we should get some team news today or tomorrow. There’s a doubt over Bacary Sagna, who has missed the last couple of games with a knee problem, and with Nacho Monreal cup-tied then Tomas Vermaelen will likely play at left back while Laurent Koscielny comes back into the middle alongside Per Mertesacker.
Lukas Podolski revealed on Twitter that he’s got a small injury which he described as not serious but ‘very annoying’. That would go some way to explaining why his participation has been minimal in recent weeks, and I have to say that if there’s any risk we shouldn’t take it. The job against Bayern is nigh on impossible. Of course anything could happen, but it’d be foolish to chance on that when there are still 10 important league games to play.
I have to say though that I’d have him straight back into the team as soon as he is ready. His delivery from the left was a decent source for Giroud, and the fact is he was bought to provide some of the goals to make up for the loss of whatsisface. He’s done that, to an extent, and I think we’ve been somewhat unlucky that his niggle, which has affected his ability to play as often as we’d like, has coincided with Walcott and Giroud hitting something of a dry patch.
It’s also worth noting that even if he has been absent he’s scored more than those two in recent weeks. There was the winner against Stoke and the goal against Bayern Munich which leaves the door ever so slightly open. Without that strike the job we have to do on Wednesday would be plain old impossible, forget your ‘nigh on’, so the sooner we get him properly fit again the better.
Speaking of injury it doesn’t look too good for Ryo Miyaichi. Having spent most of the season on the sidelines he came back into the Wigan side for a few minutes then got taken off with an ankle injury Roberto Martinez describes as ‘nasty’. It means his loan spell has been pretty ineffectual, and that seems to be true of most of the players we’ve shipped out this season.
Apart from him there’s Bendtner (glug glug), Chamakh doing very little at West Ham (at least he’s consistent), Park drawing criticism from the local press in Spain for his performances for Celta Vigo, Afobe is injured, Frimpong yet to make an impact at Fulham, and so on. The only real positive reports come from Spain with regard to Joel Campbell, and Betis have apparently opened discussions with Arsenal about keeping him for another year.
I realise the reasons for the various loans are different, but none of them are doing anything to suggest letting them go out was any kind of a mistake.
Right, we’ll have news throughout the day on the usual channel, more here tomorrow as the Munich news heats up. Until then.