Monday, January 24, 2022

Birmingham preview

Right then, shut up hangover. Sorry, had to get that out of the way.

There’s no more team news than we had yesterday other than the revelation that Laurent Koscielny is out of today’s game with a back injury. I’m now firmly of the opinion that all of our players should remain in a cryogenic fugue state between games. He wasn’t even on international duty and probably hurt himself bending over to pick up something in the shower.

As expected Bendtner and Gibbs are back, as is Theo, but the boss wasn’t exactly forthcoming on the Cesc situation. He said he expected him to be fit for today and said he had a good chance to play on Tuesday. When pressed as to what exactly the problem was he said there was ‘nothing especially wrong’ and said again he thought he’d be fit for today. As I don’t know any more than that all I can say is it just seems a bit odd to me. There’s a whiff of something funny off it and hopefully we don’t miss him too much.

So, with no Almunia back it’ll be another chance for Fabianski, Djourou will partner Squillaci, Eboue will be at right back in the absence of Sagna and the boss will have to choose between Gibbs and Clichy for the left back spot. He might well stick with experience but the fact that we’re even talking about him having to make a choice tells you plenty.

In midfield I’m expecting Song, Rosicky and Wilshere (making the wild assumption that Diaby is a bit injured like …), Nasri will probably play further forward, and then you’ve got Arshavin and Chamakh up top. With options on the bench too there’s certainly the quality there to beat Birmingham if the attitude is right and that’s where we’ve got to show a huge improvement on our last home game. The defeat to West Brom wasn’t the one-off people would like to suggest. We were out-played on the day and they simply wanted it more.

Birmingham are a decent side, solid defensively without being too threatening up front – but our inability to make the most of our chances means just one goal can make all the difference. Obviously we’ll have to prevent Hleb from making his pre-assists but we’ll also have to be wary of another ex-Arsenal man, Seb Larsson, whose set-pieces are generally dangerous.

We’ve had two poor results in a row in the league, let’s hope that the Interlull has allowed us to regroup, re-focus and get ourselves well and truly sorted. There’s no margin for error at the moment. Chelsea play Aston Villa later, I think we all know there’s no chance whatsoever of Villa getting a result there, so nothing less than 3 points will do today. Regardless of what Chelsea do we need to get ourselves going again.

At his press conference Arsene talked about Cesc’s comments about the team lacking a winning mentality, saying:

What is at stake for us isn’t the desire to win but to make history and to win trophies. As long as you have not won you are not completely certain that you can do it but that does not mean that you lack the desire to win.

This team has a great desire to win but you have to show it week in week out.

Which is exactly what Cesc was saying, I reckon. Whether you’re playing the champions or a newly promoted side the performance and the attitude has to be exactly the same and that hasn’t always been the case. Plus you just get the feeling that this group of players needs to win something, anything besides the Emirates Cup, to instill the sort of belief that would lead to success on a more regular basis.

He was also asked about the whole Danny Murphy/bad tackling thing and while he backed what Murphy said about managers having responsibility he also said that ultimately it’s the players who are responsible for what they do on the pitch.

If a player does bad tackling, it is too easy to hide behind the manager’s instruction because you are responsible for how you behave

It’s clearly an issue that manager feels he’s said enough about, his comments sounded very much like a man who has tired of talking about it and I can’t say I blame him. To say one thing and have something entirely different reported must be hugely frustrating. The bottom line though is that there are players who are a danger to their opponents, we all know who they are, and those who love the game of football have a duty to point that out. Wenger and Murphy have done their bit.

That side the revelation that a manager might tell ‘white lies‘ to protect a player is hardly even newsworthy. All managers do it and they’re right to do it as well. Sometimes a lie is the best way to deal with an issue, especially when you know the press would have a field day with the truth.

And like many of you I had a little boo-hoo at this even though I know it’s entirely correct.

So, that’s about that. Lots to do today, lots to this weekend hopefully, and I’ll be stream hunting later like a thirsty gnu.

Come on you reds.

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