Apologies, apologies, apologies for the lack of blogging yesterday, I had a ‘family thing’ which went on far longer than I thought. Then I returned home, updated my iTunes and lost my internet connection. It’s still not resolved so this is likely to be a quick blog as I’ve had little chance to read anything anywhere online.
Everton. 6-1 last season. Anyone predicting that this year? Didn’t think so. Going on form, we are currently playing better away from home than in our own backyard but that doesn’t make this match that much easier. Sure, the shackles and pressure of the home support have been removed, but we will be coming up against a solid Everton side who will feel they have more than a point or two to prove after last year’s drubbing on the opening day.
Team news is such that we have Gibbs back from injury and have lost no-one. I fear I may be tempting fate but it could be said that the Ashburton Grove ninja has been exterminated as we have managed to go from match to match to match without losing single player to injury.
It is quite a feat.
Speaking in his press conference yesterday about Van Persie’s call-up Wenger said he would see how he gets on this weekend so that hints that he will be involved in some manner. I’d be very surprised if it was in any way that didn’t involve sitting on his arse.
I see us lining up like this:
Sagna Squillaci Djourou Clichy
Wilshere was taken off midweek while Sami started from the bench so I can see some rotation there (I may be wrong), but if we start Sami in the middle that frees up a place on the right. With TR7 starting against Wolves and Theo being on the bench there is the chance to freshen things up there. Arshavin did enough to retain his place, but I suppose there is the chance that he could be ‘rested’ given how easily he gets knackered.
Despite his alleged comments about demanding more starts or he’ll leave, I fully expect Bendtner to be on the bench. I’m dubious about the comments attributed to him, not least because he has been carrying an injury for the best part of a year, has only just returned and is not back to match fitness. It would seem strange for a player who was injured for a large part of the season to date to be making demands of this sort.
On the other hand, Nik’s ego makes this sort of thing easy for people to believe.
I’m going to wait and see how this one develops before making a ‘statement’ – either he did say or he didn’t, I think it’s wise to find out which before making judgements.
In loanee news, Mannone got his first start for Hull last night and made a number of superb saves. Then he had his proper ‘Arsenal’ keeper moment, fumbling not once, but twice, directly on to the toes of two different Preston North End players. How it managed to rebound of both of them, hit a Hull player and end up safely in Mannone’s hands I’m not quite sure, but he looked like he was going to get a kicking from the Hull players as they visibly displayed their disgust with the young keeper, even though they had not conceded. He seemed to receive no praise when he later made another decent save at his near post and in general it simply reinforced my belief that Hull are a team of cnuts and we shouldn’t send our players anywhere near them.
Preston did finish having 16 shots, nine of which were on target and Mannone managed to keep a clean sheet. Not a bad evening at all wouldn’t you say? He even got a ‘Mannone saves’ montage in the post-match analysis.
I’ve said he’s way down the pecking order at Arsenal (well, third, he can fight it out with the Spanish waiter) but he looks more mature this season, he’s bulked up or had a growth spurt, and the football he’s getting will do him no harm whatsoever. The only problem is, will he be content to be a number 3? Will he be good enough to be the number 3? Both questions, for me, are still a long way from being answered.
And that’s it for today. I’ve no idea how the match will go tomorrow other than to say, as always, anything less than full commitment from the entire team and we will be in trouble,
Luckily, away from home, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
(DUE TO AFFOREMENTIONED TECH ISSUES, THE CAP COMP LEAGUE WILL HOPEFULLY BE PUBLISHED TOMORROW)
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