Sunday, November 27, 2022

Interlull: Ramsey’s return,

On Christmas Day, 1914, during World War 1, a series of unofficial ceasefires took place. Soldiers from both sides emerged from the trenches to meet in no-man’s land, to talk, to throw down their arms, and some, remarkably, even played football.

That someone had foresight to bring a newsagent-bought 99p orange cup champion ball with them was a testament to the power of the game. The landscape was far removed from the pristine pitches we have now, their billiard table surfaces are unblemished and smooth, this pitch was filled with divots and bumps, irregular grass growth, muddy patches and more.

Times change, that is inevitable, but one must wonder why it was the Danish FA decided they would recreate those circumstances for their national team this week. Instead of using one of those fancy nice pitches, on which the ball runs perfectly, they took their players to train on a battle scarred hay field and it resulted in Nicklas Bendnter injuring his ankle. Perhaps he stood on a mine, apparently nobody was anywhere near him when it happened, but off he went with an ice-pack strapped to his ankle and the first of the interlull injuries has arrived.

Whatever you think of Nick, and I know some suggest he’s like Jon Dahl Tomasson after a massive goblet of heroin infused wine, we need as many fit players as possible going into the final games of the season. And Arsenal really ought to ask questions about why the Danish FA saw fit to have their players train on marsh land. So I’ll leave them to do that and hope Bendtner isn’t too badly hurt.

Meanwhile, this weekend sees Wales play England in a European Championships qualifier. From an Arsenal point of view it’s interesting because two of the young stars of the game belong to us, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey. Wilshere has emerged this season becoming an important part of our midfield, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that last season Ramsey had just about made the breakthrough until he had his leg broken by Shawcross (media: please note the subtle difference between that and the phrase ‘broke his leg’, as if it were his own doing in some way).

Obviously it set him back, a year out of the top-flight game is tough to take, but his relative youth means he’s got plenty of time to make up for it, which is what he’s determined to do:

I thought before my injury I was just starting to kick on. I started six or seven games on the bounce and I felt like I was going to stake a claim for a place in the starting XI for Arsenal. But these things happen. I’ve just got to bounce back.

Which is quite sanguine of him, you have to say. A hamstring injury just happens, a groin strain, a calf pull, an achilles tear, these things just happen. Having your legged snapped in two by a drooling oaf who looks as if he still needs to write instructions on his hands (breathe in, breathe out – repeat) doesn’t just happen that often, thankfully. And having witnessed two Arsenal players struggle to properly come back from serious injury Ramsey is determined to do just that:

I’ll show what I’m actually capable of and put it to people that you can come back from injuries like this and still be the same player.

Saturday is a great stage and a chance for him to show that he and Wilshere are two talents around which the Arsenal teams of the future can be built. Between them there’s so much potential it’d be just fantastic if they could click in red and white, and not just red against white. It does make Saturday’s game interesting and watchable though, beyond the usual lure of any game involving John Terry and the hope that a vortex to another dimension opens up, swallows him, decides it doesn’t like him and spits what’s left of him back out in a gooey puddle of melted flesh. One day, it’ll happen one day.

And as we head into the final games of the season, Arsene reckons the last three fixtures should all be played at the same tine. The boss says:

There are advantages and disadvantages to kicking off later than the other teams. If you kick off later than your rivals, and they have lost, then you are in a more comfortable situation. Psychologically it can give you a lift and it’s true that it can apply for us or Manchester United or Chelsea but I think it would be better not to give any team this advantage.

I wonder if the manager is more concerned about his team’s inability to deal with the pressure over the last few weeks rather than being fueled by any sense of fairness. Really, I don’t see the issue. If your rival wins before you do it simply makes it more obvious what you have to do, which is also win. Not that this should be kind of surprise. And if your rival loses then it also means it’s obvious that a win for you would be even better, thus strengthening the resolve to go out there and get the three points.

I understand fully that the games on the final day of the season should start at the same time but frankly we’ve got to stop worrying about what other teams do and get on with the rather important business of doing it our own selves. Win all our games, we are champions, and that is an iron-clad, copper-bottomed, steel-toed, titanium-heeled fact. Ignore the rest, just go and win the next game.

Transfer tittle-tattle in the Mail says we’re going ‘head to head’ with Sp*rs in a ‘desperate race’ to ‘secure the signing’ of ‘highly rated wonderkid’ Alex Oxencart-Chamberpot. Is it January again?

John Cross on Manuel Almunia – some good points in here, similar to one made by Tim Stillman in his latest column.

Right, plenty of reading there to get you through.

The Interlull carries on, and we’re back tomorrow with some kind of an Arsecast. And remember, it’s your last chance to win the boots and gear from Pele Sports so if you haven’t listened to last week’s show yet you’ve got until 6pm to get your answers in. Winners announced on tomorrow’s show.

Until then.

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