Right then, after a week which has been dominated by two craggy faced managers (so much so that Fabio Capello was in my post-apocalyptic dream last night wearing a gigantic gold hooped earring), it’s time to turn our attention to the stuff that really matters.
Arsenal play Sunderland tomorrow and under Martin O’Neill they’ve been about 61 times better than they were under Mrs Doubtfire. O’Neill, however, is one of the most annoying people in football with his voice and his face and his hair and his eyes and his limbs and his torso and extremities and his tracksuit pants. Obviously though this game isn’t about how annoying Martin O’Neill is, not for Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal team anyway.
It’s about making sure that we pick up where we left off against Blackburn. The likelihood of another seven goal haul is pretty slim but we have to come away from New Roker Park with three points tomorrow. I fancy United to beat Liverpool, Chelsea are going to lose about 5-0 to Everton while the combined cuntery of Newcastle and Sp*rs will hopefully open up a vortex to another dimension where everything looks normal but food eats you.
So, bearing all that in mind, we’ve got to win the game and keep up the pressure for a top four finish. We know that our margin for error is more or less non-existent, so from that point of view there can’t be any lack of focus on our part. We know what we have to do, we know we’re going to have to play well to beat a Sunderland side who have been much improved, so let’s just get out there and do it.
In terms of team news, there are no new injuries, bar Frimpong’s cruciate but as he was on loan it doesn’t affect us directly, while according to the boss Chamakh and Gibbs are back in the mix:
Both are in contention to be in the squad, there is no reason anymore to keep them out. But I will have to decide that tomorrow. Chamakh is now at normal fitness and Gibbs is getting closer as well.
Yeah, I can think of a reason to keep Chamakh out too, you didn’t get there first, but maybe a return from the African Cup of Nations will somehow have transformed him back into the Chamakh that first arrived at the club. Maybe Dr O’Driscoll has been beavering away in the lab at the new medical centre and has invented a potion of pure confidence that he can inject straight into him to replace that which he has lost (yes, this does sound very similar to cocaine, I know).
But with Thierry Henry unlikely to be around for the Sp*rs game, and no possibility of anyone else coming into the squad until summer, I’d rather see the old Chamakh than the more recent version. We can but hope. Maybe he and Park can spark each other into life, hahahaha, urgh.
Meanwhile, the return of Gibbs means we’ve got a specialist left back for the first time since Olympiacos away. It means that the manager now has three centre-halves to choose from and that can only be a good thing. For most people it’s a case of who partners Thomas from Ireland (hat-tip WST Jr), but I guess, depending on the opposition, the manager can tailor his defence a bit more. Quite what he’ll do remains to be seen but it’s a good problem for him to have.
One man who won’t be involved this weekend, or next if we’re being honest, is Gervinho, who scored the goal to get the Ivory Coast to the final of the African Cup of Nations. Arsene Wenger believes it’ll do him good when he does get back to Arsenal via the traditional two week party (Kanu taught them well):
It was a cracking goal against Mali. Sometimes he rushes his decisions a little bit but I was very happy that he kept calm and finished in a very controlled way.
That’s great news for his confidence. He creates those dangerous situations but the coolness he misses a little bit. That can help him to do that.
I haven’t watched it but I just love the idea of Arsene Wenger saying ‘cracking goal’. Obviously an Ivory Coast win in the final means a happy Drogba, which is never good, but maybe we need to just live with that if a happy Gervinho produces more for us. I know he’s frustrating but he has produced a reasonable amount of assists/goals for someone still getting used to English football. He can certainly do better and hopefully he’ll be putting them on a plate for Chamakh and Park during the run-in, hahahaha, urgh.
Right then, that’s about all the news so it’s on with this week’s Arsecast. Joining me to discuss a much more pleasant week than those in recent times is Jim Campbell, comedian and co-presenter of the very excellent Football Ramble podcast. On the agenda, Blackburn, the Ox, Sunderland, Milan and more. Also in the mix Internet Joe while Arshavin takes some time off. Plus a t-shirt competition, what more could you want?
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 (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (22mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode228.mp3]
Right, that’s that. Have a good Friday, the beers aren’t too far away now. Back tomorrow with more regular blogging. We should hear more from Arsene about tomorrow’s game, the team and everything else at his press conference later on, coverage of that to be found on Arseblog News throughout the day.
Bye for now.