Monday, October 18, 2010

Arsenal look towards Eduardo's return as McLeish stokes the fires

I'm not sure if I'll get a chance to blog tomorrow as I'll be travelling from Belfast to London then meeting up with a load of Gooners from Twitter so it's probably best if we do the match preview now just in case.

Heading in to the match we have something of a rare occurrence going on in that we have more players available than we did in the previous match. Yes indeedy, our captain is back, and while he may not be fit to start, he will at least be on the bench.

Apart from Cesc, no-one else is returning; Kos, Verm, RVP, Sagna and Ramsey still on the list of the walking (and hobbling) wounded. We didn't lose anyone which is a little, tiny miracle wouldn't you say?

I've no idea if Almunia is fit because no-one cared enough to ask Wenger about him. Do we care? Aren't you all slowly, slowly, slowly coming around to the idea of Fabianski?

You know it makes sense.

So, that leaves us more than likely lining up as we did against Birmingham; Fabianski, Eboue (whom Wenger had words with about his scissor tackle at the weekend), Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy, Songinho, Diaby, Wilshere, Nasri, Arshavin, and Chamakh. Of course, we could see Deni and TR7 coming in for Diaby and Arshavin, but we just won't know until the team sheets are released tomorrow.

Both teams head in to the match on maximum points from two played and it is a fool who would bet against another team from the group getting through ahead of either Arsenal or Shakhtar. It is therefore reasonable to say that the two matches against the Ukrainians will determine who tops the group and therefore gets the second leg of the first knock-out round at home.

Not that it ultimately makes much difference, we've had equally tough draws whether we've won the group or finished runners up.

We all know that a lot of tomorrow's match will focus on the return of Eduardo, and it is one of those quirks of football that his return comes when Birmingham are bitching about him daring to allow Taylor to chop his leg in to three pieces.

Not content with leaving well alone McLeish has added some fuel to the fire he is desperately trying to keep burning by saying:

"People are still going to interview Eduardo about that tackle. It’s scandalous. Will people be interviewing Jack Wilshere in a year about his tackle?"

Scandalous? F**king scandalous that people dare ask a player about a tackle which ruined his career?

Catch yourself on.

Wenger was asked about the sendings off during his press conference, with some of the journalists taking great pleasure in pointing out that we've had more red cards than any other team this season (while ignoring the fact that it was Arsenal's first straight red in something like 140 games) and Wenger responded delightfully as he always does. He pointed to our ongoing 'top three' fair play performances, and pointed out that the press like to take one incident and make that a defining point. He also challenged the press to find one team across Europe who thought Arsenal were a dirty team.

They couldn't do it.

(If you haven't read the interview with Eduardo, I'd highly recommend it, and that's probably the only time I will ever recommend anything in the Daily Mail.)

Of course, people are still calling Wenger a hypocrite and there is another difference between the tackle by Jack and any of those received by Arsenal inflicted by the likes of Stoke, Birmingham, Bolton etc that wasn't mentioned yesterday - that before the match Arsenal never said that the best way to cope with Birmingham was to kick them off the pitch. We also came straight out afterwards, held our hands up, and said sorry.

Not exactly normal practice in a league where clubs are usually focused on deflecting blame at best or heaping it on to the tackled/injured player at worst. We didn't come out with the 'he was too quick' or 'Jack isn't that type of player' lines which are trotted out by the rugby clubs. We simply said it was wrong, the card was deserved, and I'm sorry.


It's something other clubs could stand to learn from Arsenal.

In England, as you know, it is acceptable to say that Arsenal don't like it up them, and the way to defeat/handle them is to 'get amongst them.' We know this, we've discussed it ad naseum. But that's where the problem is. Not only do you have players getting serious injuries, but they are preceded by declarations of war. You can't then say that the hard tackles are 'unintentional.' Jack's was very much unintentional, and while I'm not saying Shawcross or Taylor meant to inflict such horrific injuries, they flew in to the tackles with far more force and disregard than seen from Jack. That was demonstrated by the state the Arsenal players were left in. You can say it was only luck that Jack didn't break Zigic's leg, but you could also say it didn't break because he wasn't as hard, fast or high up.

Wenger has never said he wanted to eradicate tackling, a common fallacy parroted by those who only read headlines. He is also clever enough to know that things such as the tackle made by Jack happen from time to time - truly mistimed tackles. Let's face it. Paul Scholes has gotten away with worse for his entire career under the guise of being a poor tackler. Today he reiterated that he wants dangerous tackles eradicated from football regardless of which players are guilty, Arsenal or not.

I doubt you'll read much about that.

The way people have reacted to Wenger implies that they believe he sent Wilshere out to deliberately tackle in such a manner. It is ludicrous.

To say that one tackle removes his right to challenge dangerous tackles on ALL players is simply ridiculous. Also, if you can point me to one single broken leg caused by an Arsenal player in the last four years, please do. As we know, as Arsenal fans we can point to three (luckily, only three, we all know it could be a lot worse).

It's strange that the debate about managers needing to curb their players really only reached a crescendo with the Jack tackle. Where was the outrage when Aaron was being stretchered off back in March? It was squarely sided with the good, honest English defender who didn't mean to break another players leg that's where.

Blah, this is a debate I fear, will run and run.

In other news, there were some murmurings that the Dutch were planning to call Van Persie up for a friendly next month much to the disgust of every gooner on the planet. When asked about it Wenger said:

"I think the Dutch coach has a good sense of humour. There is no chance [of Van Persie playing against Turkey].

Great to hear le boss standing up to these pointless friendless which kill more of our players than they help.

But that's next month and that's an eternity in football. Win tomorrow night and we can pretty much play some kids for the rest of the games, that in itself is worth busting a gut for given our injury record.

It won't be an easy match, but it is a winnable one, and maintaining momentum before we head to Eastlands is imperative.

Finally, you might be interested to know that Mirror Football readers will have access to Football Manager 2011 before anyone else on Thursday 21st October (it doesn't hit the shops until November 5th). To get your free download code so you can preview the game, simply visit the Mirror Football website.

Would you drop Arshavin? Make a bid for the unsettled-Rooney? Or maybe you'd bring in a whole new medical staff. In Football Manager 2011, you can play out these scenarios and see if you know better than Wenger or Ferguson. Football Manager 2011 will be jam-packed full of new features such as real-time contract negotiations for more realistic dealings with agents, a new set-piece creator, and a completely overhauled training system.

You can also sign up for a free facebook fantasy 5-a-side football game in association with Renault. You can pick your team, set up a mini-league and invite your mates at

Don't judge me, I've got rent to pay.


daniels said...

I'd rotate a bit:

Gibbs for Clichy; (rest)

Denilson for Diaby(picked up a minor strain apparently);

Rosicky for Arshavin (depressed, obese, lazy, lost, rest);

Walcott for Nasri (rest);

Leave Wilshere in as he's suspended for Citeh.

Get Bendtner on for Chamakh after an hour.

Get Vela on for Theo after an hour.

Get Cesc on for Jack with 20 mins left.

Chief Gooner said...

Big fan of arshavin but he was dreadful saturday. Needs to be dropped tomorrow night.
He needs to work harder, perhaps improve his fitness. Because he was a passenger saturday.
Rosicky has done well when given a chance so i think he deserves a start ahead of arshavin now.
I think if wenger can get 30 minutes out of cesc and theo they'll start at middle eastlands

Anonymous said...

Watching hihhlights of the weekend. Is it just me or does Chamakh look like Jean Claude van Damme?

Michael said...

Fabianski - NO !

I'm sorry I just can't take to this guy. If I had to choose between the two it would be Al every time. I know both of them aren't good enough but there's something about LF that puts me off. I don't know if it's because he looks like a simpleton, I just can't put my finger on it !

Give Eduardo a big cheer from all us fans who won't be there tomorrow. I remember when he had his injury the Arse let you send a message to him via the website and they were putting them into a book for him (as they did with Rambo). I sent the message "You've only been with us a short while but you're already family, get well soon." Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

Lady arse-Whats all this hot air wafting around from this chilean miners sized blog hole you have dug for yourself?
And have you finished chipping away your shoulder yet?

WHo the hell do Zigic, Mark Davies, Ridgewell and all the rest of the cretins who in the past few seasons have allowed themselves to get in the way of perfectly 'legal' (if you play for Wenger) leg crunching tackles think they are? They deserve everything they get.

Blame ferguson, blame alladyce, blame the media, blame everyone in the world. Arsenal v the world. pathetic

Anonymous said...

Why is Ryan Giggs on the cover of Football Manager

Anonymous said...

Can't Wait till Football manager... Best part is seeing the transfer kitty for the first year.


Jamrock Rover said...

Have a great time tomorrow night.

Sairax said...

Hope you have a great day tomorrow! Have fun and enjoy the Eduardo reunion (as well as our victory *fingers crossed*)
Come on Arsenal!

MoHoops said...

great post LA..

anon..8:52..wake up, or shut up.

this is going to be a tough game..they're a good team..& i there hasnt been an oppostion player id cheer for tonight more than eduardo..i hope he doesnt get boos like henry did (after initial cheer) sure he wont..
that brunley volley is one of the best ive ever seen. & his finishing when on form was one of the deadliest ive ever seen..i truly hope he recovers to fulfill some of that amazing potential

MoHoops said...

great post LA..

anon..8:52..wake up, or shut up.

this is going to be a tough game..they're a good team..& i there hasnt been an oppostion player id cheer for tonight more than eduardo..i hope he doesnt get boos like henry did (after initial cheer) sure he wont..
that brunley volley is one of the best ive ever seen. & his finishing when on form was one of the deadliest ive ever seen..i truly hope he recovers to fulfill some of that amazing potential