Ok, FA Cup 4th round day and it’s Huddersfield at home.
I’ll admit I don’t know a great deal about the visitors but they’re riding high in League One and … erm … that’s really about it. That is the beauty of the cup though, you get to learn things about clubs you normally wouldn’t. Well, that and winning the cup is the beauty of the cup.
From an Arsenal point of view I expect changes galore. If I had to guess it’d be something like this:
Almunia – Eboue – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs – Denilson – Diaby – Rosicky – Arshavin – Bendtner – Chamakh
I don’t think there’s any question of underestimating the opposition but a home game on Tuesday night against Everton has to be borne in mind. It’s a good chance to bring in players who have been out for a while and need to get some games under their belt and it may be another opportunity for others to play themselves back into form.
Nicklas Bendtner, for example, scored a brilliant goal on Tuesday night against Ipswich to show why the manager has continued with him. Yes, at times he looks clumsy and downtempo but he’s capable of goals from a range of areas which is a bonus. The manager reckons people have been a bit harsh on him, saying:
I kept faith in him because I feel he is top quality. He is in the situation of players who are patient and have talent and want to play. People want you to deliver something special and at Arsenal they are used to seeing someone deliver something special upfront. He can deliver that. For example the goal he scored the other night was top class.
Bendtner himself reckons some top tips from Thierry Henry helped and he’s pledged himself to the club. I suppose he hasn’t helped himself at times with his ‘outbursts’ during which he declares himself the greatest player in the entire universe and then plays like Carlton Palmer’s window licking clone. I like him despite the fact he is frustrating, and hopefully he can start scoring with a bit more regularity.
For guys like Rosicky, Diaby, Almunia, who for various reasons have found themselves on the fringes, it’s a chance to show they’ve still got something to contribute. There is always the danger that when you make a lot of changes the team will struggle to click but hopefully they’ll click well enough to see off today’s opponents. As I said, any underestimating of them will cause problems, they’ve got nothing at all to lose and cup football is capable of shocks. Just cast your mind back a couple of weeks to Natalie Portman Road.
Despite there not much in the way of playing history between the two sides in recent years there is a connection that goes back to the time of the great Herbert Chapman. The Mail has a piece on Chapman and some interesting quotes from him. I like this:
There is one golden rule: it is never safe to be satisfied. No matter how good the team may be, there should always be an attempt to improve it. It is sometimes suggested that a winning team are got together by luck. This has not been my experience. One has to watch a team like a thermometer.
And his thoughts on player recruitment remind me of Arsene Wenger:
The longer I have been on the managerial side, the more I am convinced that all-round intelligence is one of the highest qualifications. Brains today are more important than ever.
For me that’s been a common theme in our policy. Ok, there have been a couple of times when the manager thought raw talent and ability might be enough to overcome a lack of intelligence or maturity but in general we’ve developed and bought players with an above average wit. Anyway, go have a read, the rest is interesting stuff too.
Not a lot else happening. It’s an early kick-off today, 12 noon, so I’d best leave it there. If you want to join me for the live blog check back closer to kick off for details of that.