Thursday, November 30, 2023

Villa preview : more of the same, please

Morning all,

as I sit here, head in hands, drinking a quite foul cup of hotel room coffee, I dearly wish I had one onomatopoeic word to sum up how I’m feeling.

Today we play Aston Villa. A team who have been obdurate, difficult and, let’s not forget, managed by a shrunken, withered, sunburnt testicle. Team news is all good, no new injuries, nobody has contracted the plague, stubbed their toe or been bitten by a Koala with mega-ebola, so we might well see an unchanged line-up from Wednesday.

The only issue is whether or not he keeps Ramsey in the side at the expense of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Gervinho. I do like Aaron but maybe we’d be better balanced with one of the others on the left hand side of the attack. Away at Everton I can understand a bit of caution but at home I hope we might be a little more direct.

Either way, we’ll be looking for the team to continue not just its recent run of results but the performances that have brought them about. They have varied in quality (in terms of the football), no doubt, but the one common denominator is that we have worked hard all over the pitch and that has to be the same today.

Arsene says:

We have come from deep. For us, planning is completely out, just play your next game as well as you can and accept the verdict. We have to be humble, focused and keep our feet on the ground.

We have gone through some difficult times during the season. So, at the moment, we are in the mood to just focus on the next game and try to do well. After that, we will cope with what happens.

I believe our pride will be to give absolutely everything until the end of the season and that’s the only way to have a chance.

Again we come back to the one game at a time thing which really is the only way we can approach things. As much as we would like to be still involved in Europe and the FA Cup, the fact is we have no distractions from what we need to do in the league, and perhaps, under the circumstances, that’s no bad thing.

Today will be tough. Villa will set-up to frustrate us, like a pack of claret and blue thwarters, and we may well need to be patient to make the breakthrough. They will sit deep, deny us space, then try to hit us on the counter or get something from a set-piece. It is a tactic many teams try when they come to our place, and the shrunken, withered, sunburnt testicle always sets his teams out to play that way against us.

We’ve shown great spirit and character over the last few weeks, coming from behind, grinding out a 1-0 in midweek, and I suspect that we’ll have to do much the same again today. The difference now, of course, is that we’ve shown we can do it. There’s enough quality in this side, if we play the way we’ve played in the last few weeks, to take three points and that’s what I’m hopeful of today.

In other news, the boss has spoken about the signing of Lukasz Podolski who, it seems, is the new Mark Schwarzer given the number of medicals he’s already had. Speaking at his pre-game presser, he said no medical had been done and remained a bit cryptic even though I think this is probably as close to a done deal as you can get without an official announcement:

The deal could happen soon, it could happen later. The speed in which you do things is important, but at the end of the day it is always the player who makes the decision.”

It is about how much they want to join you.

What’s most interesting about this is how early we’re trying to get things done. I suspect, if a Champions League place, becomes more assured, we might find that Podolski’s willingness to join increases, and it was hugely refreshing to hear the manager refer to last summer and admit, quite openly, how bad it was in terms of doing transfer business.

You want to make me say that last year was bad and I agree with you – last year was terrible for us because we finished on August 31 at 11.55pm and we do not want to repeat that.

If I had to sum up last summer it’d be like coming home to find your wife in bed with Water Sheringham, ‘In the air tonight’ playing on repeat, with John Terry drawing life-sized self-portraits of himself all over your walls with his own worm-infested poo. And then having to spend five hours licking the top of a battery. That we’re working hard to avoid that seems good to me.

Beyond that the most interesting story of the morning is the boss saying Jack Wilshere could play again this season. He’s training with the ball now, and thus far has suffered no further set-backs with regard to his injury, but clearly will have fitness issues. I suspect we’ll be as sensible and cautious as we need to be. If he makes it back, great, if not he’ll be the epitome of LANS next season.

Right, I have to have some kind of breakfast then it’s off the annual Arseblog 5s. Normally we don’t play as hungover as a goat but … oh, wait, business as usual. See some of you later pre/post game in The Tollington who have asked me to remind you there are copies of the book available behind the bar. No, really, they did!

It not later, catch you tomorrow, and here’s three nice points later on.

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