Some mornings I don’t know where to start. Not because I’m spoiled for choice with lots of stories, just that I don’t know how to begin. Normally thinking out loud in some way helps and by the time I’ve written a couple of lines it looks like I know what I’m talking about. Mostly.
For tomorrow’s game against Aston Villa we’re still without Freddie Ljungberg and Sol Campbell. That means our impressive back four can stay together again. Left full back has been a problem this season but it seems that both Cole and Clichy are doing well. Ashley is expected back in about three weeks while Clichy should return to full training next week. However, given their lack of match fitness and how well Mathieu Flamini is doing they may struggle to make the team even when they are over their knocks.
Thierry Henry feels things are going well now and puts it down the win against Real Madrid. He says “That win at Real Madrid did give us a lot of belief and now everyone is confident.”
And if you had to pick a turning point that would be it. As enjoyable as that was though it did give weight to the criticism levelled at the team beforehand. When you see them playing like that it’s what made the insipid performances pre-dating it very difficult to take. Let’s use Gilberto as an example. After the Everton game I was particularly scathing about him and it’s not something I normally do. I felt I was right though as the way he played characterised everything that was wrong about the team. Half-hearted, passionless, uncommitted. Now, let’s look at Gilberto since the Real Madrid game. He’s strong, winning tackles and no longer looks like he’s afraid of getting kicked because as a central midfield player that’s part of your game. His squaring up to Ibrahimovic the other night in defence of Senderos was exactly what we need from him. An experienced player standing up for, and setting an example to, his younger team mates.
I don’t know what turned it around. Maybe we needed a big win to boost the confidence, maybe the manager bawled them out of it, maybe a combination of both but it’s just a shame it took until February to shake the cobwebs off as this team has got far more to it than scrapping for fourth place. Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s too early in the morning to think straight. Let’s just hope the same level of committment we show for the Champions League games is carried into every game between now and the end of the season.
Robert Pires has been linked with a move to Vilarreal and has been praised by Thierry for his recent form. He says “When he was not playing well, everyone was talking about him and now he is doing well, you should be saying so.”
That’s fair enough. As memorable as his goals have been for us, and some of them have been outstanding, I think the tackle on Vieira is going to live long in people’s minds. And again it goes back to the half-arsed point I was making above. If Le Bob played every game like he played against Juventus we’d be begging the manager to give him a 2 year deal to make him stay.
Finally, let’s remember David Rocastle who passed away five years ago to the day. Arsenal Talk has a nice piece about a great player and a true gentleman and if you can spare a couple of quid the David Rocastle Trust is more than a worthy cause.