Morning all and welcome to the day before the North London derby. It’s a Friday too so that means another hard week of work is over (unless you have to work all weekend and that).
The early team news ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Sp*rs is that Mathieu Flamini might be back after missing a couple of games with a dead leg (he probably exacerbated the injury by two-footed tackling his own leg for being such a yellow-belly), but apart from that we don’t have any problems bar the long-termers.
The injury fears over Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs have eased and even with that they were both fit enough to be on the bench in midweek. Laurent Kosciely got a nice rest so he should come back in, and Calum Chambers will continue at right back with Hector Bellerin and his wondrous hair of delight providing some back-up on the bench.
There’s still no Theo Walcott but that shouldn’t be a surprise. A couple of weeks ago he shot down the idea that he’d be making a return for this one. And while it would be good to see him back in the side, it’s not as if we don’t have options for his position.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played there against Villa and I expect Alexis to come back into the side tomorrow so he can continue his goalscoring run and begin a sequence of scoring against them in almost every game in a Piresian fashion (I know Bobby shares that record with both Alan Sunderland and Emmanuel Adebayor, but if I said something were Adebayorian you’d think it was gauche, ostentatious, indolent and had a shirt number monogrammed into it somewhere and, frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that).
Speaking of Alexis, the Ox spoke about him yesterday and captured his attitude ahead of this game. He said:
Alexis and Jack played 90 minutes the other day and they’re usually on second-day recovery, but today Alexis really wanted to train and people had to tell him to take it easy. That just sums up how much everyone wants to be around the squad and training, and I think he knew we had a massive game coming up this weekend and, as a new boy, it’s good that he does know that.
Obviously everyone else that’s been here and been involved in a north London derby knows how big it is, so that just proves the intensity goes up in training and everyone just wants to be around and pushing for a start.
There’s a fear sometimes that the players from abroad won’t quite understand the importance of the game, and that might have been true for one or two over the last few years, but I wouldn’t have any worries in that regard now. Not only is there an English/British core that will ensure the full weight of expectation is known, we’re also dealing with players well used to big games.
Mesut Ozil and Alexis, for example, know only too well what a derby is like. They’ve experienced El Clásico as well as more local derbies against Atletico and Espanyol. Ok, in Spain it’s two massive teams rutting like stags and for this game it’s one massive club and a bunch of wannabes who want to build a stadium way too big for their fanbase and who can’t even build the stadium because a bloke likes to make sheet metal there so they’re going to have to do a groundshare with QPR or something and then, after finally coming to an agreement with the metal people, there’ll be some unexpected delay to the planning process due to an appeal and ENIC will get fed up and sell the club to a bunch of venture capitalists who will assess the business, declare it a serial under-performer, asset strip the whole thing, before turning the old ground into the world’s largest Aldi, but they’ll understand the importance nonetheless.
When you see Alexis sprinting his bollix off to chase down a ludicrously over-hit corner in a Capital One Cup game against Southampton, there’s no doubt he’s going to make life really uncomfortable for the Sp*rs defence tomorrow. And if his attitude is in any way infectious then that’s no bad thing either.
Not a lot else going on at this stage so we might as well get on with this week’s Arsecast. Joining me to discuss the Capital One Cup, how the youngsters fared, system tweaks and the either/or situation with Ramsey and Wilshere when it comes to midfield, is Adrian Clarke.
There’s some chatter about money, the competition winner from last week, a strange find in the archives and all the usual waffle.
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We’ll have all the latest team news and press conference chatter over on Arseblog News throughout the day. More from me tomorrow.
Have a good one.