Thursday, February 29, 2024

Post-internationals, pre-Everton

Morning all.

The internationals are done and hopefully we’ve come through them without any real issues. There was a scare during the England game when Jack Wilshere got clobbered so hard his eyes watered and a stretcher was called, but he hobbled off and played for about an hour.

Of course that’s no guarantee that when he returns to Arsenal his foot won’t be septic and fall off but afterwards Jack said:

It is a bit sore, but just a bruise. I have had a scan already and I will be alright.

I can’t say I’d start Jack this weekend against Everton. He was poor at Stoke and on the basis of that I’d bench him for the weekend, but I’d still want him fit and available just in case.

Elsewhere, Laurent Koscielny is a doubt for this weekend’s game against Everton with a hamstring issue. He wasn’t risked by France (thanks France!) last night, so he’ll have to be assessed ahead of the weekend’s fun and frolics. The good news is that Thomas Vermaelen is fit again, and fresh having not been used to Belgium in midweek, so he’s there if needed.

Ozil and Mertesacker played for Germany, Podolski came on as a sub, and I’m sure loads of the lads got time for their national sides. I haven’t seen anyone bemoaning a good old-fashioned maiming or a season ending knack yet, so fingers crossed there’s nothing too serious for the medical team to deal with.

Whatever about players going away and getting banjaxed when they’re playing in competitive, qualifying games, to lose a player to a pointless midweek friendly just as the season is getting into its final stages would be really, really annoying. I’d suggest that what the international managers learned last night could fit on the back of a stamp (a postage one, not a Charlie Adam one), so you do have to wonder about the point of it all.

It leaves Arsene Wenger with little time to prepare his side for the FA Cup clash against Everton but I’m sure, assuming that everyone’s fit and available, that he’ll have a prepared first XI in his mind. I don’t quite know what that would be, but as I mention on the ArseAmerica Podcast this week, it must be the best eleven possible.

As far as I’m concerned we can’t even start thinking about the trip to Munich until after the Everton game. The Champions League cannot influence the team selection for this weekend. Once we’ve done what we need to do against Everton, only then should the manager consider his team for Europe.

I don’t want to hear the word ‘rest’. I’m ok with ‘rotate’ because he can rotate out some of the players who played so poorly against Stoke, but the cup now represents our best chance at silverware this season. I’m not writing off the league, although it will be mighty tough. I’m not even writing off the Champions League, despite the fact that’s going to be as difficult as licking your own elbow.

But as it stands we’re just two games away from a cup final. That is what should inform the team he picks for the weekend and as we’re playing an Everton side who were very, very good the last time they came to our place, nothing but our best XI will do.

For me that means Ozil comes back in, Podolski goes out. Oxlade-Chamberlain plays on the right hand side to add pace, drive and the ability to add width to the side. In midfield, I’d be getting out the Flamteta just to keep things solid and to add some aggression and crunchery in the centre of the park. And while I’m sure the players don’t need any reminding about how close they are to Wembley, I’d remind them anyway. Remind them right in their faces.

Anyway, plenty of time over the next couple of days to get ourselves prepared for that particular game, but I can feel myself getting worked up about it already, because it really is hugely important.

We might even have our January signing, Kim Kallstrom, available as reports say he’s close to full fitness after recovering from a javelin in the spine that a load of scorpions got in and laid scorpion eggs in his heart but we decided to sign him anyway because it was too late to get anyone who didn’t have scorpions in them. I know it’s (still) a bit underwhelming but who knows what he might bring between now and the end of the season.

And beyond that there’s little to talk about this morning. Do check out this post right here which will give you all the details about a brand new Arseblog book, coming out in May. It’s to mark the 10 year anniversary of the 2003-4 season with all kinds of cool stuff in it, but man, 10 years eh? Where the hell does the time go?

I’ll be back tomorrow with an Arsecast, and all that that entails. Until then.

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