With Arsène yet to even announce any kind of team news for tomorrow (as I type – first thing Friday morning), I feel like a pilot flying through thick, soupy fog without any of my instruments to guide the way. There’s a very good chance this blog will crash in to some sort of opinionated inaccuracies. Even more than I usually do. So strap yourself in.
It’s Friday though, which means the weekend is upon us and we’ll no doubt at least learn of what fate has befallen Coquelin, a man who this time last season would have barely have seen a minor shoulder shrug from most Gooners had we been told of a period of time for him on the sidelines.
What his rise to prominence has done, for me at least, is bring more faith to the possibility that heroes can be found in the most unlikely of places and at the most unlikely of times. It gives me hope for other players in the squad – not just the young ones yet to break through – but the older players who aren’t getting in to the team.
That thinking is no doubt enhanced by a North London Derby victory and, as we sweat on Coquelin’s fitness, I do find myself feeling a little easier about the overall squad than I did after the Zagreb game.
I find that somewhat disheartening at the same time though, because my faith in the ability of some of the players wavered somewhat in the face of a stinging defeat, but as with everything in life, there were mitigating circumstances in Croatia. The first team showed last weekend that playing 10 versus 11 is an almost impossible task when the opposition is good enough, so why didn’t I cut the rotated squad the same slack only a few days earlier? Perhaps you could argue that the opposition was weaker, but the term ‘weaker’ is all relative in the Champions League, because most of the teams in it are Champions or similar and certainly win more games than they lose. That means they carry less psychological baggage than say, someone like Newcastle, with whom we’d fancy our chances even being a man down. Champions League teams are also, by-and-large, better technically than those towards the foot of the Premier League. So perhaps my ire at the squad players falling victim to match day one defeat, was misplaced, then replenished after Wednesday nights heroics.
So perhaps I just need a little more faith. Perhaps I just need to tune out the interference from the media and focus more on what I believe; we have better players in our squad than a year ago and we’re in better shape than we’ve ever been as a squad. Players who aren’t playing regularly need to be treated more like players returning from injury. If Chambers, Debuchy et al are looking rusty, it’s because they are. If they were straight in to the first team after a lengthy injury absence, they’d probably get two or three games before we start to see the best of them, which must also be true for players who have been fit but not playing.
So if/when the next Arsenal player in a key position gets injured for a prolonged period of time – like Coquelin, or Bellerin, for example – I promise to do my best to remember today’s blog and imagine them as returning from injury. You can hold me to it.
Still, I’d rather Le Coq was given a full bill of health by Le Boss today, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that and hope we have the same team looking for redemption, that lost last weekend.
Enjoy your day folks and remember to keep it Arsenal.