I don’t know whether to be thankful that United players seem to be dropping like flies ahead of our crucial game at Old Trafford on Sunday, or fearful of some kind of comedic backlash from the rookies and squad players van Gaal picks to play against us in the league. After all, I seem to recall an FA Cup game in which United completely rotated their squad a few years back, yet still managed to leather us 4-0. So just because Martial pulled up in the warm up and is a doubt for the weekend, it doesn’t mean we won’t still come away from Manchester with yet another bloody nose, such is our record up there.
De Gea will be back and Martial will probably have some sort of miracle recovery by then anyway.
Still, there’s plenty of speculation to be had over the next few days, so let’s leave that particular sleeping dog where it lies and focus on other things. Like how the Spuds are in to the next round of the Europa League. Happy days as far as I’m concerned. We need them to go deep into this competition without actually winning it, so I hope they get a favourable tie and can at least reach the last eight, before crashing out having knackered themselves out by April. That’s the dream, anyway, because the reality is that they will be a force in this season’s title race and that is scary. So scary I want to talk about something else.
How about our current squad status? Good, apparently, as the manager confirmed in yesterday’s team news update on the official site. Gabriel looks like he’ll make the squad, which if true, will be interesting to see what Arsène decides. If he’s fit enough and he comes straight in, you’d have to say that there looks to be some sort of changing of the guard between him and Big Per. It’s fair to say the BFG didn’t exactly cover himself in glory against Barcelona, so I don’t think many will be too surprised to see the Brazilian start. I think it’s right he’s given the chance though. He’s been at the club over a year, bedded in well enough and probably deserves a run of games to see if he can forge a partnership with Koscielny, but I don’t think Big Per is ‘done’ by all accounts. Many don’t rate him but I think those people tend to emphasise his deficiencies and disregard his strengths. This season our defensive record overall has been good. It’s our forward lines failure to convert that has caused us problems. So when we’re not winning games but drawing 0-0, there is more frustration with the forward line, than appreciation that the back five have done their job. Hey, they will all know it comes with the territory and you’re hardly going to applaud the defence when a team doesn’t win when it really should, but I’m just trying to illustrate the point that it doesn’t quite stack up that our German vice captain is ‘sh*t’ when he’s been in the team for most of the season and we have one of the best defensive records. Hashtag ‘just saying’.
So with the troubles in the attack being a clear problem at the moment and with Danny Welbeck returning to his one-time home, inevitably there will be some chatter between Le Boss and the press about ‘Dat guy’. Arsène will of course not give anything away to the assembled media, but having already admitted that there’s an issue in front of goal in his post-Barcelona press conference, it’s not exactly putting two and two together to make 12, in assuming that Welbeck might be given the nod. He looked hungry and fresh against Hull and I think it’s clear he wants to make up for lost time. That’s just as well really, because something has to get us out of this goalscoring funk and if he can be that somebody, then we’re all for it I’m sure.
The only other news we’re waiting on is that of The Ox. The Metro paper I have sullying my vision in front of me on the Tube this morning, is suggesting that his season might be over, which would be horrible for him and a blow to his own personal development, so I hope it’s not as bad as is being speculated by the hacks. As I said yesterday, anybody who is pleased that an Arsenal player isn’t available because of injury, is a sandwich short of a picnic in my opinion. Let’s just wait and see what comes out of the live press conference this morning thought.
That’s it from me. Have a wonderful Friday and I’ll check in with you tomorrow with some post-presser thoughts.