Morning all, welcome to Friday. It’s all right for us, commuting, drinking coffee, looking forward to the weekend and generally being grand?
But what about the Arsenal players who have no time to even wash their faces with a battered flannel because of the schedule they face. After getting back from Naples early on Thursday morning, they got a bit of a rub down and then today they’re off to Manchester to face City.
Mikel Arteta, for one, is finding it hard to get his head around why we’ve got so many games in such a short space of time, saying:
I don’t understand why we play Sunday afternoon, Wednesday evening, get back at 4am and then play again on Saturday morning in Manchester. There is nothing we can do – just recover well. It’s a big game and we want to win it. The preparation will just be about recovery. It’s not ideal. There is a late warm-down , we try to get our legs back for Friday … travel on Friday and be as well prepared as we can because they will be ready for us.
It’s a reasonable complaint, in fairness. The TV schedules are what’s made this happen. Sky moving the Everton game to Sunday, BT moving the City game to early Saturday lunchtime. Still, there’s little we can do but get on with it, something Arteta is aware of:
We have to be ready, no excuses. We know it can be a big statement if we get a good result against City. That’s what we want.
We might be somewhat weary after the travel and short space of time between games, but there’ll be some fresh legs in the side. I’d expect Ramsey and Wilshere to come back in and maybe Theo Walcott might start in the front three as the manager tries to do something a little different. I think there might be more chance of that happening if Bacary Sagna is fit and ready to return at right back.
He provides the extra solidity down the right hand side that’s often needed when you play someone like Theo away from home, and we should get some news about his fitness in the press conference which I assume will be taking place early this morning ahead of the trip to Manchester.
The other thing to bear in mind is that despite having little time to recover and prepare for this game, there’s a 9 day gap afterwards before we play Chelsea on the Monday before Christmas. Without wishing to resort to cliches, they really can leave it all on the pitch on Saturday knowing that they’ll probably have a couple of days off, then loads of time to recuperate and get their aches and strains seen to before we face Mourinho’s shower of reprehensible goat-felching thundercunts.
Per Mertesacker, meanwhile, says there’s no time to worry about feeling tired, they just have go out and prove to people that they can cope with the games and the vagaries of the schedule:
It’s always difficult especially now after 15 games in the league and the Christmas period is coming. Now everybody is pulling a bit, questioning our group, and if we can maintain that level. So we have to stay together and think that ‘yes, we are strong enough’.
The games against Man City and Chelsea will go a long way to making people’s minds up about us, but the reality is, what people think about us doesn’t really matter. While it certainly helps to beat the big sides, it’s not absolutely necessary to win the title as long as you steamroller the rest. I think Manchester United did that one year, struggled against the big teams and just hammered everyone else.
However, as the win against Bayern Munich back in March showed, there’s a tangible benefit to be had from getting results in games against quality opposition. They instill confidence and belief into the team, and it’s been noticeable how well the team have responded to setbacks this season.
When we lost against United everyone said that was a true measure of the quality of each side. We went on to win the next four in a row, United took 2 points from the same games. Measure that, why don’t you? So, if losing to Napoli can be classed as a setback because of where we ended up in the group, then we’ll be looking for something similar in terms of a response tomorrow.
Just before we get to this week’s Arsecast, the winner of our EA Sports FIFA 14 competition is Henry Pulver who said he’d go with c) give it back to your goalkeeper and make him do keepy-ups so the opponent RAGE QUITS and then sends you a message calling you a nasty name. That would have been my personal choice too, but I was happy to accept any of the answers. I’ll be in touch to get details, watch out for more competitions soon.
Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by two guests. Firstly, we have Goonerholic to talk Napoli, Everton, managerial abuse and much more, then I chat to Pete Anderson, also known as Gooner on the Road about his trip around the world to watch Arsenal and raise money for breast cancer charity. Check out his website here.
There’s some of the usual waffle and half-baked observations and your chance to win goodies from our friends at Savile Rogue.
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We’ll have all the latest news from the press conference etc on Arseblog News, plus some columns to come later in the day, so stayed tuned for all that.