Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Top spot up for grabs but Arsenal need to play better

Good day to you all. I’m back in Dublin after 4 rather beer filled and mojito filled and rum filled and gin and tonic filled nights in Barcelona. It was good to be back in the old homestead and funny to see the Barcelona ’boutiques’ with all the Henry 14 shirts for sale (considering how it’s not really working out for him over there). I did meet some Sevilla fans in the airport yesterday. They were on their way to Prague and were in great spirits. One chap said he’d see us in the final. That’d be good. They’re a very personable lot, those Andalucians.

We have Steaua Bucharest tonight and Arsene Wenger is confident we can still win the group, despite it being out of our hands. While it’s certainly not impossible for Sevilla to lose out there we’ll need to win our game and that’ll mean an improvement in performance from the last couple of games. There’s been a definite slide in how we’ve peformed since the great first half against Villa and that slide needs to be unslidden. Yeah. I love making up words.

In terms of team news the biggest news is that Jens Lehmann will be back in goal but the manager made it quite clear that this was not related to anything else and you’d imagine, as Goonerholic says, it’s a bit like putting him in the shop window and I think Almunia will play against Chelsea. Robin van Persie is back in contention and while I’d be surprised to see him start I suspect he’ll get a good run out to put him in the frame for Sunday’s league game. Abou Diaby could also play a part but Hleb, Flamini NDP and Cesc (impatient for a return) will still be out.

It looks like Nicklas Bendtner will start up front and we could see Senderos, Walcott, Hoyte and others with one eye on the Chelsea game and giving people a bit of a rest. We’ve qualified and while it would be nice to finish top of the group it’s not vital. Sunday is vital.

Of course Arsene Wenger will serve his one match ban meaning he cannot directly contact the team during the game, he’s not allowed on the bench and will watch the game from the stands. Is he allowed use his mobile phone? I bet him and Pat Rice can communicate telephatically anyway so there’s no bother. I have my fingers crossed for a win all the same.

In other non-tonight’s match news it looks like Mathieu Flamini NPD is being offered an ND of 5 years in duration. Good news, I think. Sometimes it takes a while for a player to show he’s got what it takes. I thought his performances at left back in the run the CL final that season were very encouraging and this season he’s shown he’s the real deal, in my opinion. We’ve missed him in the last few games and that says it all. Sign up, Matty, you know you want to. At the same time we’re being linked with AC Milan’s Youann Gourcuff but given our plethora of central midfielders this seems unlikely. Or perhaps given the fact AW is collecting central midfielders it’s quite likely. Who can say?

Don’t forget there’s still time for you to enter the competition to win a copy of the Arsenal Opus. Already one Arseblog reader has been one of the weekly winners and all you need to do is get your favourite Arsenal photos and upload them. For more details click here or click on the banner at the bottom of this post.

Also, if you fancy a chance of winning two tickets to the Chelsea game on Sunday as well as helping out the Treehouse charity (Arsenal’s charity of the season) click here and download the Epac. You’ve got to do it today though as the competition closes tomorrow.

Right so, who’s been drawing naughty pictures on the toilet wall while I’ve been away?

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