On-pitch and online responses

Good morning from a horrible, wet, windy and dark Dublin. It’s seriously miserable out there which makes me happy I’m in here, coffee in hand.

Chelsea’s defeat against Liverpool on Sunday means our result against Newcastle isn’t as damaging as it might have been. It says something, however, that we’re talking about damage control as opposed to putting pressure on and closing the gap. We travel to the midlands tomorrow night to play Wolves and Sebastian Squillaci is looking for a reaction from the team:

When you play for a team like Arsenal, after two defeats you need to respond. The next game will be really important, we need to show that Arsenal are a great team.

A win against Wolves wouldn’t show that Arsenal are a great team, it’d show we’re a team capable of beating Wolves, no more, no less. A defeat, however, would raise even further questions and those are questions which have answers nobody would really want to hear. He’s right though, we have to respond. A win is absolutely vital to get ourselves back on track and to lift the spirits a bit.

There are far tougher games this month than Newcastle at home or Wolves away. We go to Everton on Sunday, which is always tough, then there’s Sp*rs at home, followed by a trip to Portugal to play Braga and then it’s Villa away. Unless we pick ourselves up and show some real fight there’s a danger this month could be a real disaster. We’re not playing well, that’s for certain, so when you go through periods of poor form you’ve just got to work harder and make sure you get some kind of momentum going. If you have to scrap out the result then so be it.

We have appealed Laurent Koscielny’s red card so we’ll find out today if he can play against Wolves. I think there’s a touch of danger about this one – we’ve seen bans increased after so-called ‘frivolous’ appeals before and there’s the possibility that could happen here. I wonder does it tell us something about the fitness of Thomas Vermaelen that we’re appealing. If he was close to a return would we be so eager?

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe we’re just fighting what we consider an injustice and we’ll get some good news about the Belgian in the meantime, but I’m just a little suspicious. And even if the appeal is successful I’d be tempted to play Johan Djourou on Wednesday against Wolves. I like Koscielny but I think he’s still got a way to go in terms of his physical presence. He was too easily turned by a total novice on Sunday which led to his red card. Wolves will be physical tomorrow night and I think Djourou is better equipped to stand up to that.

Cesc has been talking about his hamstring issues:

The good news is there’s no tear on the hamstring, nothing. It’s just a little bit of fluid but it keeps coming back and it’s very annoying. We are working on it, looking at my hips because they are always very tight. We have to work on it but also understand that I am 23 and I’ve played many, many games. It’s a lot of games for my age and I have to take care of myself.

It’s a genuine fear that players who begin as early as Cesc can find themselves plagued with problems as they get older. Fingers crossed that’s not the case and we can sort this out, because the difference between a fully fit Cesc and one who is hampered by injury is fairly obvious. People talk all the time about how he makes the team tick and often when he’s not at his best the team struggles. As I said yesterday the creative responsibility is not his alone though. There are others in the team who are capable of producing and on days when the captain isn’t quite firing on all cylinders it’s down to them to step up.

The increase in player presence online means we get more forthright views of the performances than you might through traditional outlets, including the club site. A sample of the post-Newcastle reaction:

Andrei Arshavin – “A very annoying defeat. We’ve just had a very unpleasant week”

Jack Wilshere – “Long way to go yet and we will be back stronger on wednesday!”

Marouane Chamakh – “Stay with us friends, i feel, i’m hurt”.
– Damn faker!

Wojscez©® – “not happy about todays result 🙁 let’s hope we lift ourselfs up and get the result at wolves”

Robin van Persie – “Ow, my leg”.

Clearly a lot of unhappiness, which is good to see, let’s hope they can turn unhappy Twitterings into goals and a performance tomorrow night. Pain is a great motivator. The fear of another defeat should be too.

There’s no pre-game press conference as far as I know but I think there’ll be the usual interview with the manager on the official site from which we can get the team news etc. So, that’ll be about that for today. More on the Wolves game tomorrow.

Till then.

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