Well, well, well, my how the ‘mighty’ mighty have fallen so quick, so fast and so hard, eh? I wonder if, at the end of season party when all of the back-slapping and self-congratulating had finished, the chortle from the speech about how there is a team who only play in calendar years (the jibe at Arsenal) had died down, whether Jose Mourinho imagined that in one calendar year he would go from the world’s greatest manager (in his head) to a catastrophic failure, eh? I wonder if he ever considered his own fallability?
Probably not. His arrogance transcends all expected levels of humility. To bring this blog back to its core raison d’etre, a telling sign of how that person is thought of could be seen in Arsène’s presser yesterday, where he refused to talk about backing Mourinho. As the Evening Standard reporter James Olley said, Arsène always backs a manager to stay in his job, so for him to quickly move the conversation on after being asked it shows what he though of the guy.
And given what most of us think of him, let’s move on quickly too, because yesterday Le Boss was there to talk about the impending dual with City and give us a team news update. The biggest news was around the fitness of Alexis. Inevitably, the player himself believes he’ll be fit, but I hope Arsène is a trillion per cent sure that he is before he decides whether to play him. He’s an ‘X factor’ player, who brings something that others do not in the squad, but even without him we are strong and on our own turf under the floodlights, we should be strong enough to stand a chance of beating City without him.
The rest of the team news is all positive, which means no new worries and with over a week’s rest, you’d imagine fatigue of the players is less of an issue than it would be if we’d have played midweek.
This week has been important and the rest is important ahead of the Christmas run-in, especially given Arsène’s comments about the number of points it could take to win the league. If he’s right, if 80 points wins you the title, mathematically it makes each point more valuable, but it also makes the bigger games more valuable too, because you are putting daylight between your closest rivals. That’s why the game on Monday probably takes on added significance. It’s also why you need a collective of players 100% fit. We should have that on Monday. When you then get in to the Christmas period, it’s about getting players recuperated as quickly as possible and essentially just ‘getting over the line’ in games, because this is the time of year where every team is feeling it and everyone is more susceptible to mistakes.
It’s also why I’m glad – at the moment anyway – that three of our four Christmas fixtures are at home this season. Home advantage usually counts for something and you’d expect the team to perform better within the comfort of the home support. I don’t know why, but I always feel like players who are rotated, play better on home soil than away. I think it’s a League Cup theory I’m pulling in to my Premier League memory banks. When we’ve rotated players at home in the League Cup, they usually perform better than when we’re away. I’m convinced we’d have beaten Sheffield Wednesday if it would have been the same players at The Emirates. So, with that baseless theory out there, I think that it’s good that we have two easier games – in theory – after City at home and Southampton away, when Arsène will be able to rotate some of the squad. We’ll have to ponder that for the Christmas period though.
In the meantime, let’s just be happy, because we’re in a good position confidence-wise, we have a great chance of beating a rival on Monday and it’s a Friday today too. Happy days.
Catch you tomorrow.
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