Right so, Carling Cup action tonight against that lot and it could turn out to be quite a tasty game. My initial fears that we’d play a very young team and they’d play everyone bar Steve Archibald seem a little misplaced.
The wheeler-dealer reckons they have to prioritise and says they’ll rest some players (not 100% I believe him, but there you go), and the word is that there’ll be a fair smattering of experience in our squad. Quite who will be involved remains to be seen but I reckon Gibbs, Djourou, Eboue, Denilson, Vela, one of Squillaci or Koscielny and perhaps even Rosicky could feature.
The early reports about Wojscez©® getting a game in goal are wrong, it seems, and it’ll be Lukasz Fabianski who’ll get the nod. I suppose if he’s the number 2 (heh) right now then it makes sense to give him a game lest anything happen to Almunia which requires him to play in the other games. He says:
I just want to show my best, to show the boss I am able to play as the first goalkeeper. I am going to treat it as another chance to prove myself.
All jokes aside I hope he plays well. I don’t necessarily expect that to happen, and I still don’t quite understand the manager’s faith in him, but we’re going to WHL and regardless of the fact it’s the Carling Cup we want a result tonight.
One youngster who will play is Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. The big man looks too good for the reserves, at times, but perhaps not quite good enough for the first team yet. If there’s a doubt about him at this stage it’s not about his talent or ability, something the manager has spoken about:
Jay has class. Class to give the ball, class to finish, class to pass people. I believe he can play against anybody and score goals but then again you must earn your place and on a daily basis he must show you have the hunger and quality.
Maybe a hint that he needs to see more from him in that department, both in the training and in matches. If Jay needs any reassurance that age is not a factor he need only look at Jack Wilshere, who has played in every game so far this season. I might be wrong but Jay has been slightly hampered by the fact he was so versatile, playing everywhere from centre-half to centre-forward.
He seems to be more settled further up the pitch now and when I saw our reserves play against Shamrock Rovers a few weeks ago he, and Henri Lansbury (also tipped to be involved tonight, btw), were the stand-out players. When the chances come at a big club like Arsenal you have to take them, and there’s no bigger game to announce yourself in than a North London derby.
The boss, in full-on ‘talk my players into having good games’ mode, also bigged-up Carlos Vela, saying:
It is a massive opportunity for him, he has worked very hard from the beginning of the season. He is a different player to what he was last year when it wasn’t easy going sometimes. He has a more mature attitude now.
There was a bit of talk last season about how Vela liked a night out, which is all well and good if you’re banging in the goals, but he was doing anything but. He’s started this season in a much more positive fashion and with Bendtner, Walcott and van Persie injured, Arshavin listless, and Chamakh just unable to play every game, he’s got a real chance tonight to show he’s got what it takes.
The last time we went to Sp*rs in the Carling Cup it was nothing short of a disaster. We got hammered, Adebayor loafed Bendtner and they had a DVD out before people had even got home. There’s a measure of revenge to be taken, pride to be restored and a manager to send to Twitchon 5.
Whether our manager is on the bench tonight is a talking point. After an FA charge yesterday – for inappropriate behaviour and colossal swearing – he’s been given the option of a 1 match ban and an £8,000 fine. He could choose to take that ban so it would kick in tonight but I can’t see that happening, to be honest.
We’ve got a home game against West Brom at the weekend and with all due respect to them it would probably be a better option to do it then. I just don’t see him going to WHL with a young-ish team and then choosing to leave things to Pat Rice. It’s also making the assumption that he simply accepts the FA charge and doesn’t contest it.
How do you tally the fact that Paul Robinson can get away with a potential leg-breaker with a bit of foul-mouthed sideline banter in the heat of a game? It seems that once again the FA have shown just how out of touch they really are and their continued reluctance/refusal to address the issue of dangerous play makes them a laughing stock, in my opinion. By all means charge Wenger if he’s transgressed, I’m not at all precious about that, but don’t just sweep horrific challenges like Robinson’s under the carpet. It’s pathetic.
In other news Cesc announced via his Twitter account that his hamstring injury wasn’t as bad as feared and he hoped to be back playing in two weeks. That’s kind of cutting it fine for the Chelsea game but that’s obviously going to be the target.
Meanwhile Manuel Almunia has bemoaned the lack of ‘killer instinct’ for costing us the three points at Sunderland. I don’t know what I can add to that other than I too bemoan it. I bemoan it right in the face.
Denilson says we’re the best team in the country. Can’t fault the attitude, I guess, but it seems a little early to be making declarations like that. One can end up with ostrich sized egg all over one’s face.
So, that will have to do. Here’s to the right result tonight. Back tomorrow.