Wigan preview – continue and banish some ghosts

I have no idea why but since I got up this morning I’ve had that ‘Chicken Tonight’ jingle in my head but instead of chicken it’s Wigan.

Just two days after beating Chelsea we have to ensure we don’t make that performance and result irrelevant. There’s always the danger of a low-low after such a high-high and it’s interesting to hear Arsene talk about what might make the difference this season. He says:

The first team that finds top-level consistency in winning can have a big advantage.

Our inconistency has been consistent, you’d have to say, but the players must take all the positives from Monday night and apply them to every game from now on. As I said yesterday they’ve set the standard with that performance and if they can replicate it then we’ll be a lot better for it. Theo Walcott says:

Everyone’s been talking about the defensive side of the game, when we haven’t got the ball. When we’ve got the ball, we’re fantastic but when we don’t it’s a different story. But we can’t do it in one game, we need to do it in every game.

Sometimes it can take lessons a long time to sink in. I hope that’s the case now because they’ve seen how hard work can be rewarded. If we harrass teams and force them into making mistakes we’ve got the quality to really punish them. So the approach to tonight’s game must be exactly the same as the one against Chelsea. Wigan are no less important, the three points no less vital.

I expect changes to the side this evening. A game just two days after one so intense means we’ve got little choice but use the full depth of the squad. Cesc is suspended after his fifth yellow of the season but I don’t think we’ve anything new in terms of injuries. That could mean starts for Arshavin, Rosicky, Eboue, Squillaci, Denilson, Chamakh and even Bendtner. I know it’s a lot of changes but we’ve got to trust in the players and those that missed out against Chelsea having seen what’s required and what they have to do to be considered for big games. In particular I’m looking for a response from the Russian. Reputation and transfer fee mean nothing. Will being benched for such a big game give him a kick up the arse and help him find some form again? Let’s hope so.

United’s draw with Birmingham last night gives us the chance to go level with them at the top of the table, although they’ll still have a game in hand. Being joint top over the New Year should be plenty of motivation. It’d also put us level with Man City, on whom we have a game in hand, before we play them at home this day week.

What ought not to be forgotten by the players, or the manager tonight, is last season’s game away at Wigan. 2-0 up and strolling they then exposed the very worst of that Arsenal team. Slapping Mikael Silvestre’s head is only funny if you’re doing it at the final whistle. And instead of slapping you’re using a plank of some kind. To lose that game 3-2 summed up everything that was wrong with us. We were lazy, complacent and simply didn’t care enough. It was one of the worst displays I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal team and that has to be put right today.

Our motivation might be different. We’re chasing the title, trying to follow up on a great win against Chelsea, but that embarrassing abortion of a performance needs to be well and truly buried tonight. It came on the back of a defeat to Sp*rs and completely ended what vague title chances we had. It still bothers me to think about it – the slapping of Sylvester’s head and laughing as if it were all a big joke – and conceding three times in the last fifteen minutes, well, it was more painful than being tied up and locked in a room with ‘In the air tonight’ played over and over again while through a dirty window you can see Phil Collins resetting all your scores on Angry Birds after spending ages trying to get three stars on all of them.

See, I’m getting all het up here. Suffice to say that coming back from Wigan tonight with three delicious, crunchy points would go some way to making up for last season and leave us in very good shape this time around. Over to you lads.

For those of you who can’t find a stream later on I’ll be doing a live blog so check back later on for more details.

Elsewhere, fun stuff between Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes. Pulis refused to shake Hughes’ hand at the end of the game. Entirely his right but you really have to be some enormous cunt for an enormous cunt like Pulis not to shake your hand. Anyway, those with non-goldfish memories might remember the outrage when Arsene also refused to shake Hughes’ hand last season during the Carling Cup game at Middle Eastlands. Having been subjected to 90 minutes of abuse the manager was supposed to ignore that and shake the hand of the man who had been giving him grief all game. He didn’t and the reaction … well, it was like he’d snuck into the Queen’s bedroom and given her a crafty fingering.

All complete nonsense, of course. My view is that the handshake is a load of old bollocks. If you don’t feel like shaking someone’s hand you shouldn’t shake it. To force this kind of custom on adults is more insulting, in my opinion. Of course one of those who spoke out against Arsene last season was … yes, Tony Pulis. Thanks to Zonal Marking for reminding me of this. What a horrible cap wearing, hypocritical, Time Bandit little volcanocunt he is. The only way I’d ever shake his hand if it had been removed from his arm by a rusty saw. And I’d shake it in his face. As he bled to death.

Hey, ’tis the season to be jolly.

Anyway, final thing for today – if you’ve got yourself a new iPhone over Christmas check out the Arseblog app. It’s free! However, there’s a new version coming soon with exciting new features including a ‘Cut Tony Pulis’ hand off with a rusty saw’ game. Probably. There’s also an Android app in the Marketplace if you search for ‘arseblog’.

Right then, that’ll do for now. Back later with the live blog. Until then.

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