The festive fun is over, the turkey left-overs have been consigned to the dog, the empties left beside an overflowing bottle bank and Auntie’s hand knitted Aresnal scarf carefully hidden away at the back of the sock drawer. So on with the motley for another dose of the weekly News-Round.
Arsene Wenger, the last man standing! With the retirement of Old Rednose it is left to our own Professeur to carry on the role of Club Manager. Arsenal are now the only club in the Premiership where the manager manages and the board do, well whatever it is boards do. Fiascos at Cardiff and Tottenham are the latest to demonstrate that football matters should be left to football people and egocentric owners and chairmen should keep their noses out.
Jack Wilshere’s punishment for his obscene gesture was announced, a two match ban ensured his absence from two London Derbies. No doubt that had Arsene spitting blood, just when he needed as many players as possible available so he could rotate the squad one of them gets to sit it out in the stands. At his news conference Wenger said Koscienly was 80/90% out of the game, but Podolski was available for selection.
Arsenal’s attempts to sign Liverpool striker Luis Suarez are finally dashed by the Uruguayan signing a new £200.000 a week contract. Well we didn’t really want him, did we? We only bid £40.000.001 to wind Rogers up.
A surprise guest at the Arsenal Christmas party was non other than Ashley Cole, the former Arsenal left back was promptly benched by Mourinho for the Monday night derby clash.
Predictable wins for Liverpool and City saw us temporarily knocked off the top of the table, which must be an added incentive for the team to take the three points on offer against Chelsea.
Despite fatigue being a factor in the slight dip in form of Mesut Ozil, Wenger has no intention of resting him for the Chelsea game but rested he will be in future.
At a manager’s meeting in Geneva, Arsene raised the matter of the away goals rule. He wants UEFA to scrap it altogether as he feels it is both “unfair and outdated”. He went on to say
“Last year we went out on away goals and after that I asked for Uefa to cancel the away goals,” Wenger said. “I think, for example, we lost 3-1 home and won 2-0 at Bayern. It is difficult to win 2-0 to Bayern without conceding a goal. The weight of the away goal is too heavy, too big and is not justifiable anymore.” “There is no big difference anymore. Sometimes I think there is a counter-effect, as teams play at home not to concede goals. At home, the first thing managers say is let’s not concede goals.” Maybe he has a point, do you agree with him?
http://www.arsenal.com Arsene said of tonight’s match; “I see this just as a home game after an away defeat, one in which we have a good chance to show our strength. Despite the fact that we conceded goals at Manchester City, I feel that the team has even more belief now. We have regrets yes, but also a belief that we have a big role to play in the Premier League so let’s respond straight away.” You can almost hear Edith Piaf in the background singing Non, je ne regretted ** rien.
“We have shown again at Manchester City that we can score at any moment, so we want to find the right balance again between being defensively sound and going forward with efficiency.”
When asked about the likely absence of Laurent Koscielny
“Mentally, it has been tough for Thomas Vermaelen but he prepares well and is focused in every training session,” said Wenger. “So he is ready to come on every time. He did well [at Manchester City] so it is good to know that he is ready to play.”
The odds home win 11/8, draw 23/10, away win 2/1.
The sub-heading in The Independent says it all,
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0 match report: Dean’s mistakes deny top spot to Arsenal. There can be no doubt, even in Mourinho’s warped mind, that Mike Dean’s abysmal performance was the reason for us not regaining top spot. His failure to issue a red card to Mikel for his challenge on Arteta on 36 minutes, which met the excessive force criteria. Just seconds later there was a penalty appeal against Willian for a trip on Theo Walcott that looked plum, which was not given.
Let’s not kid ourselves too much, our performance was by no means our best, we created too few chances and got even fewer on target. A nine day break should have seen us playing a much higher tempo pressing game. A clean sheet and no injuries are the positives to be taken from a game spoiled by the referee.
Oh! Come on, you didn’t really expect anything today, did you?
Words of wisdom from Arsene prior to the trip to East London to play West Ham:
“In the Premier League, we have learned that this year it is difficult everywhere”. “Now we have to go to West Ham on Boxing Day and on top of everything it’s a derby. We have given a lot against Chelsea so we need to make sure that we are completely focused on this game.”
In view of the likely fatigue factor and players returning to fitness Wenger has the option to rotate the squad a little.
“Podolski has not played at all since the second game of the season and he lacks a bit competitiveness, of course I can only find it if I play him but he’s been in training for just two weeks now. I have to make that decision when I use him or not”.
Ultimately Wenger of course picked a very strong side, which overcame a one nil deficit to run out comfortable 1 – 3 winners. Two goals by Theo Walcott and another by the late substitute Lukas Poldolski saw us move back to the top of the table at least until the end of the City/Liverpool game which finished 2-1. So we are back on top.
That’s it for another week, enjoy the weekend