Sunderland first, then Barça + Arsecast 191

Good morning to you, there’s a lot of talk about the place this morning regarding the Barcelona game. Which I do not approve of one bit.

I can understand Nicklas Bendtner responding to a question about playing at the Camp Nou, and I can also understand Samir Nasri being quizzed about it at the launch of the new Champions League football yesterday, however, it should be very much in the background at the moment. There’s the danger of losing focus from the most important game – the next one. Against Sunderland. On Saturday.

United’s midweek defeat to Chelsea means we can cut the gap to a single point if we can pick up three at home tomorrow and while nobody would suggest Sunderland is a more glamorous fixture we can’t lose sight of just how important it is. Orient in midweek was fine but we’ve yet to see a response from the players who played on Sunday against Birmingham. If their eyes are on the prize then they’ll be fully focused on the Premier League. Everything after that can wait.

In terms of the early team news it’s probably going to be a bit soon for Cesc, the boss says:

He will not be tested before Monday. I don’t think he will be involved on Saturday, he has no chance, but we will try with him on Sunday and Monday and he will have a final test on Monday morning. He has a chance to play in Barcelona.

Pretty much as expected really. Laurent Koscielny is more than likely out with a broken heart hamstring problem while Alex Song will miss the game too with a knee problem that also threatens his participation in the Champions League next week.

On the plus side Aaron Ramsey could well be in the squad. I don’t see him starting but hopefully conditions are right so we can welcome him back as he makes his first appearance for over a year. Those who continue to defend what Shawcross did might step back and remember that his 3 game ban was over in 10 days, Ramsey has missed 12 months of top flight football.

Still, despite mostly talking Champions League Nasri did talk about the team’s response to Sunday, saying:

The blow will drive us forward because we want to take revenge for what happened on Sunday. We want to show everyone that we are men and have guts to answer people and show we are not the same players as before.

There are many things that can motivate players. Fear, ambition, money, not wanting gangsters to cut off your children’s hands, and right up there with the best of them are shame, anger and disappointment. You know when you’re playing, and you’re not playing well, and one lad on the opposition spouts “Come on, let’s do them. These lads are shite”?

When your initial motivation to kick that fucker up in the air every chance you get subsides then you try and turn that into something positive and to lift your performance. There’s definitely some shame going around, Bacary Sagna’s tweet tells you that, but the pain of losing a final, the disappointment, and the desire to make that right and prove people wrong should not be underestimated. It can galvanise a squad and let’s hope that’s what the outcome of Sunday is.

The Daily Mail has an ‘exclusive’ interview with Nasri which is so long I reckon Goal.com could make a week or stories out of it. An interesting read all the same.

Meanwhile, Alex McLeish has rather ludicrously accused Jack Wilshere of ‘cyber bullying’. Wilshere, quite rightly in my view, took exception to Barry Ferguson slapping Koscielny on the head after the Wembley cock-up, and said so on his Twitter account. McLeish says:

It’s not my world, Twitter and all that stuff. Cyber-bullying is not for me. We’ll draw a line under it and move forward.

He went on to ask the reporter ‘A/S/L?’ before definitely drawing a line under it. I mean really. ‘Cyber bullying’? Give me a break. I don’t begrudge Birmingham their win at all but even a line or two from their manager about how that was an unnecessary and snide act from his player would have been more appropriate than accusations that belong more in a Daily Mail handbook for worried parents of children who use internet blogs and online emails. The shriveled up peanut looking cunt.

At this stage not much else going on. Arsene’s press conference takes place later so we’ll get all the team news as well as questions about how it feels to lose a cup final. A fuller preview of the Sunderland game tomorrow.

So, on with this week’s Arsecast, and I’m joined by GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog to discuss last Sunday and look ahead to the weekend and beyond. Internet Joe has his 3o second round-up, Arshavin answers some questions and more.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too. To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (20mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://arseblog.com/podcasts/arsecast_episode191.mp3]

And that’s about that. Remember, if you’re bored in work today, Flashback Friday on Facebook gives you 5 classic Arsenal goals/moments to enjoy, so pop on over if you’ve nothing else to do. Or if your work is tedious and boring. I’m sure your boss will understand.

Till tomorrow.

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