This post is brought to you in conjuction with Plan B’s new album, Ill Manors. Which, let’s face it, is kinda apt as we face a weekend trip to that illest of manors- the Britannia Stadium and also because we’ve been accused of lacking the famed “Plan B” pretty much ever since we last won the league title. Particularly at places like Stoke. Plan B himself, just to bring this opening section a close, is an Arsenal fan himself.
Like I said, apt. I’m only two tracks in at the minute, but I’ll let you know whether you should buy this album at the end of the post. This ain’t a music blog! Yeah, I know, I know…
So, Stoke at the weekend. Normally, five words that are sufficent to bring even the most even tempered Arsenal fan out in a stream of invective- the wounds (literal and figurative) inflicted on Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal on one February night in 2010 a long way from being healed. There’s no point, now, in trying to explain to Stoke fans that it wasn’t so much the infliction of a career threatening injury on one of Britain’s brightest talents that did the damage. Well, it was. But it was also the complete lack of contrition from Stoke City that grated. Yeah, things happen, we get that. But Tony “Arsene can keep his opinions to himself” Pulis was ill mannered to say the least.
As for the Stoke fans booing Aaron for his refusal to accept Ryan Shawcross apology- can I just ask them (and I know you’re reading), who was done the greater wrong here? On one hand, somebody lost a year of his career. Someone else had his feelings hurt. A little bit. Weigh it up, it’s not hard.
Anyway, the purpose of this blog is not to keep old wounds open- honest. I actually began to write this blog thinking that we need to move on and away from this. It’s Stoke City, for God’s sake! The best way to go and deal with them is to go up there and give them a hiding. However, watching Santi Cazorla bundled over in front of an indifferent referee last weekend, it was difficult to avoid the conclusion, he’s in for a hell of a shock on Sunday afternoon.
Our task potentially made even trickier because of an apparent injury to Wojciech Szczesny. Okay, so Lukasz Fabianski has recovered from whatever injury kept him off the bench last week. But a choice between him and Vito Mannone, well… The point isn’t really about them, it is this. Despite Szczesny not having a great shot to save ratio last season, according to Twitter’s @orbinho, he “had one of the best catch success rates of any regular ‘keeper in the PL last season, dealing with 97.5% of high balls he came for.”
If Szczesny is unavailable for Sunday’s match, then that ability to deal with an aerial bombardment will be a huge miss. Although I think Fabianski a fine shot stopper, we’ve seen countless examples of his inability to cope aerially and not just at Stoke.
It seems to me that people are a bit more concerned with Arsenal walking away from the Nuri Sahin deal. Here is my take on it: Get a fucking grip. Seriously. He may be a fine footballer, I don’t know. But look at our midfielders, Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Rosicky, Coquelin, Frimpong, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Ten central midfielders- and yes, I know Cazorla, Rosicky and the Ox are all flank options, believe it or not I have covered this before. Do we really, really need another midfielder? Particularly one Real Madrid appeared to be asking us to shell out £5m for without any guarantee of retaining his services beyond the end of the year? We’d have been mugs not to walk away.
If he was a defensive midfielder, I could kind of understand the angst (and even then, we’ve Coquelin and Frimpong), but he isn’t. So I don’t. So shut up. Ill mannered? Me?
Speaking of the Ox, he is fit to return to the squad and, I’m sure will at least be on the bench for Sunday. He might actually be a very useful option from there, what with his skill and speed and strength. Seems like, for once, a player going on international duty has turned out well for both club and country, with le gaffeur talking up Alex’s increased maturity and confidence this season.
Incidentally, you should buy the Plan B album, it’s really good.
Laurent Koscielny, however, is still unavailable- but that’s okay because we’ve got the Big Fucking German. We’ve probably been standing him 6 yards off the goalline heading balls away all week- at least, I hope so. Koscielny will apparently be fit to return to the scene of his memorable, in more ways than one, debut for us at Anfield. Just in case you didn’t know, we visit Liverpool next week.
The start to the season isn’t getting any easier, is it?------------
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