Morning all, a quick Saturday round-up for you ahead of tonight’s game against Liverpool.
Despite whispers earlier in the week that we’d play a weak side for both cup games the manager has said he’ll be playing a strong team tonight. He said:
If you ask me about Saturday it will be a team very, very close to the one which played the last game against Charlton.
Obviously we’ll be without Cesc, who’s suspended, and it’s too soon for Lauren but Eboue and Baptista will both be back and available for selection. AW is expecting an open game, Liverpool are strong at home, we’re a bit weak when it comes to travelling up north but this is the cup. Anything can happen.
He also spoke about the transfer window with a rather odd quote. He’s said time and again he won’t be buying anyone, and I seriously doubt we have any interest at all in Reo-Cocker (at least I hope not, he’s got nothing to add to this Arsenal squad expect a poor attitude), so while the rest of the managers scurry around AW is nice and relaxed. He said:
With the transfer window I am like somebody who is watching the rain outside from inside the window. They all hurry up out there and I am sitting here watching it with pleasure.
Now, I’m of the opinion that January isn’t the best time to buy players and I don’t think the players we’d need are available in this transfer window but it is a bit odd if the manager is sitting watching the rain and smiling away when we’re so far behind the leaders. Perhaps he thinks the return of Henry, Lauren, Gallas and Diaby will be like new signings to us and perhaps it’s a measure of the faith he has in the young players that he’s not going to buy but will he be sitting watching the rain with such pleasure in May? We’ll see.
He talked about the Anthony Stokes situation and suggested that we had a ‘congestion of strikers’ ahead of him. He’s left the final decision down to the player himself and it looks like the young Irishman will be leaving the club one way of the other. Arturo Lupoli looks like another one on his way, although perhaps not until summer, and the boss says he’ll respect what the young Italian wants to do. What does seem to be obvious is that Bendtner, Vela and Walcott are the manager’s current picks and it’ll have to be a very special talent to knock them down the pecking order.
One thing I do agree with him on is the matter of players who engage themselves in ‘foul play’. In a swipe at referees who allow players like Chris Morgan to punch Robin van Persie he said:
If it’s a physical game, and they show more commitment and want it more than us, then it’s OK. I don’t have any problems. But I donâ€™t feel it is right to punch people in the stomach and then say they are ‘babies’. That is not the way I see the game. When you go for the ball 100 per cent I respect that, but when I see a player giving another player an elbow before he goes for the ball, I say, ‘sorry my friend, you have nothing to do in the game’. It’s not football.
He’s right too. I don’t think there’s a football fan in the land who would complain about a tough, physical game. The powers that be have done so much to eliminate physical contact from the game. Gone are the days of sliding tackles that took ball and man, shoulder charges and everything else. What we have seen is a rise in sly, niggly foul play which doesn’t seem to be clamped down on at all. I know people will say it’s a bit rich coming from Arsene Wenger who has just been fined Â£10,000 for an altercation with Alan Pardew but then those people are fucking simpletons.
Elsewhere Thierry Henry talks about his injury problems and how he’s learned from them, saying:
When people asked if I was okay I would say ‘Yes’ even though I knew I wasn’t. You have to read the right signals in your body. One thing I have found difficult to do is to listen to my body. I need to do that.
Thierry will start tonight up front with Robin van Persie so fingers crossed he can make his body do the stuff. The good stuff. The good smashing mug smashers stuff.
Right, I’m off. More tomorrow and here’s to the lads scoring another famous Anfield victory. And making mug smasher cry like a little girl. Oh please let that happen.