it’s a measure of how quiet it still is that one of the main stories on the official site is Jeremie Aliadiere: my Arsenal career. In terms of capturing one’s interest ahead of a title run-in it’s up there with Jeremie Aliadiere: the top 5 walls I like to watch paint dry on.
There has still been no official update on post-Interlull injuries but according to The Guardian we’re hopeful that van Persie will be fit, along with Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendnter who injured his ankle in no-man’s land while away with Denmark. So we await to hear how dead Robin’s leg is, all about Nick’s knack and whether or not Diaby can make a triumphant return for two and a half games before he strains something else. I’m sure we’ll get an update today.
Meanwhile, the Jack Wilshere saga rumbles on with suggestions that the player’s enthusiasm to play might put him on ‘collision course’ with Arsene Wenger. Now, whatever about Wenger wanting Jack to rest this summer and his belief that going away with the U21s won’t do him any good at all, the manager’s been in football long enough to know players. And he knows that for the most part – the obvious Bogardes of this world aside – they all want to play as much football as possible.
A player with the natural enthusiasm and passion for the game like Jack will aways want to take part. Whether it’s Arsenal, England or in his back garden against his mates. The manager knows that, and although he clearly has reservations and doubts, he’s not going to fall out with Wilshere over it. It’d be like hating the sky because it was blue or the wind because it was a bit blowy. Wenger’s ire will be reserved entirely for those who he feels are putting their own interests ahead of the player, or those who are in a position to protect him but don’t.
The boss, and Sebastian Squillaci, have been talking about what lies ahead now. The small matter of the final nine games of the season. And it’s hard to think of nine more important games in Arsene’s reign. The feel-good factor of being in four competitions has been fairly splatted into tiny chunks of misery and we’ve got to pick ourselves up and get going again. Wenger believes hauling ourselves back into the West Brom game will be beneficial:
Things can change very quickly, and what is important for us is to get back winning, which is what our squad needs at the moment – the psychological lift of coming back from 2-0 down was vital for our next game against Blackburn.
It is a bit of a bad time that we’re having but we have all got to get our chins up and show our mettle against Manchester United for the title. That’s the remaining target now and we’ve got to give everything for the cause. Really, it is a case of keeping going and getting the three points, that’s the most important thing.
It is important that we lift ourselves and I know people will say we’re great at talking without always backing that up but the bottom line is we are in an excellent position. I asked Bob Wilson if he thought the team, in second place with the title in its own hands, had the character for the run-in:
You can’t be in the position you’ve just put them in without having character. It’s up to them now. They have to get right back online on Saturday. It doesn’t matter if they win 1-0 as long as they win it. Even if they’re not playing at their beautiful best it doesn’t matter. 1-0 will do. I think they can do it.
Let’s hope he’s right and remember, you can hear the full interview with Bob on tomorrow’s Arsecast. Saturday’s game against Blackburn needs to be something of a launch pad. There are difficult games coming up and we need to find some form and confidence. The team can raise the crowd, for sure, but there’s no reason why the crowd can’t do the same in return in either. We’re in this together between now and mid-May. Worth remembering.
Some extra reading for you. Tim Stillman’s new column touches on Wilshere, internationals in general and David Rocastle, while those of you who are missing the Arsenal players on Twitter page will be happy to know that it’s back, of a fashion. It’ll show the last three tweets from our players, although depending on how long ago their last message was it may not show. This means there’ll be no jamming up of the entire feed by one player – I’m looking at you Lansbury – and if I’m missing anyone please let me know.
Finally for today, it’s the 10th anniversary of the death of David Rocastle. Others have written longer tributes than I, check out the ‘holic, East Lower and Vital Arsenal, so there’s not much point in me waffling on when they’ve already done the job.
The only thing I will say is that 33 is no age at all and as the others have pointed out it’s a measure of how highly he was regarded that the minute’s silence at Highbury after his death was so impeccably respected by Tottenham fans as well as the home support.
On his day he was a truly fantastic player, one whose career was horribly affected by a knee injury. From title winning Arsenal sides to Leeds, Man City and Chelsea, it was sad, from a football point of view, to see him in other shirts. That’s the game though, we’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again.
What was truly sad was a great person and a great player being taken so young. The club will mark the occasion on Saturday but whether it’s 10 years, 20 or 30, Rocky won’t be forgotten.