Time to start thinking about what lies ahead this weekend and, frankly, it’s a bit scary after all that’s happened. Man City dismantled United on Tuesday night with ease. Whilst recognising this is not something we’ve been able to do, it is ‘candy from baby’ stuff this season, but all the same, City looked pretty good doing it.
There’s no good news in relation to who we have available either. No shining knight in German armour is going to come to our aid, and those of us hoping to see the Welsh Jesus resurrect our season will have to bide our time even further as Arsene Wenger says:
Ramsey is progressing well, but we need to be patient for a few more weeks.
A few more weeks doesn’t sound like he’s going to be back any time soon, and for a guy who was only supposed to be out for a few weeks when he limped off on December 26th you do have to wonder what’s going on. One of the questions that pops up time and time again for the Arsecast Extra, or just generally when we get news like this, is why Arsenal suffer from these injury problems.
Ok, a banjaxed cruciate is one thing, so too a hamstring strain – it can happen to any player at any time without there being an underlying issue. It’s often just bad luck. But situations like this one, with setbacks when the player is on the verge of coming back, do make you wonder if there’s something really wrong with what we do.
Please note the word ‘wonder’. I don’t have the answers. Arsenal employ highly-trained medical staff and have state of the art equipment and facilities, but there’s something wrong somewhere, isn’t there? I do hope that the manager wasn’t just paying lip service to the question asked a couple of weeks ago when he promised a thorough investigation into our injury woes, because while it’s hard to quantify exactly how much we’ve missed a player like Ramsey, you don’t need to be a genius to know it’s quite a lot.
So, the only way we can really change things for tomorrow is by adding a bit of Kim Kallstrom to the mix somewhere. His debut was encouraging, and he’s a bigger chap than I thought he was (or maybe it’s because most of the rest of our team is so small), and he looks like he can ping a ball about quite well.
Whether that’s enough to help us cope with Man City remains to be seen, but the manager was very obviously talking him up yesterday which suggests he’s thinking of using him. He said:
I’m convinced that he can be important for starting or coming on in the games because he has the experience, he has quality and his attitude is fantastic. He has an absolutely fantastic attitude. He’s a credit to the job because of his attitude, his focus and his determination. He works hard, he’s helpful and he’s marvellous.
Let’s face it, we looked leggy and lethargic on Tuesday night. Some of that was the hangover from the Chelsea game, no doubt about it, but I think we’re also suffering from the fact that we haven’t been able to rotate or rest players during a busy period and some of them are close to being knackered.
Kallstrom isn’t going to inject a lot of pace into the team (the sight of him charging back defensively on Tuesday was great – he’s not going to win many races though), but perhaps he’ll have a freshness of body and mind that might just help us step it up a bit in terms of performance. And that’s got to improve on the last two games, by quite a margin, or tomorrow is going to be another disappointing day. Anyway, more on that tomorrow.
Meanwhile, there’s good news for US Gooners as the club have announced a pre-season friendly with New York Red Bulls in July. There’s all the usual waffle from Ivan, Arsene and, indeed, Thierry in the announcement, but having looked to exploit new markets with trips to Asia for the last few years, it’s good to see the club acknowledge a very established part of our fanbase.
I know I’ve gone about it before, but that scene in New York, which I’m sure is replicated in many cities across the states to some degree, was just fantastic to experience. With an American majority shareholder it seems odd that we’ve taken so long to do it, but better late than never.
Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and after a difficult week on the pitch I’m joined by Philippe Auclair to discuss what happened, the ramifications of it for the players, club and manager, and more besides. There’s some Amaury Bischoff PI, a referee reads from his audiobook and the usual waffle.
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And that’s about that. News and updates from the manager’s press conference over on Arseblog News throughout the day, more here tomorrow as we look ahead to that crucial clash with Man City.