So here we are at the end of another working week and a weekend of FA Cup football ahead of us. Today is press conference day and whilst we got a bit of news as usual on injuries yesterday from Le Boss, he’ll no doubt elaborate a little bit more this morning and give us an idea on what his team selection thoughts are ahead of Watford on Sunday lunchtime.
The big rumours emanating from selective sources yesterday were that Aaron Ramsey’s injury is worse than had initially been feared. Arsène played it down on the official site and talked about a ‘small’ worry, but if other people are to be believed (and it’s not as if Arsène hasn’t been wrong before!), then six weeks out will effectively curtail his season. It will be a big blow to the player and also to us too. Rambo hasn’t exactly been in form and other than his goal at the weekend against the Spuds he was pretty poor in the North London Derby too I felt, but he’s still a player that got in to that position to get us goals. He does deliver end product and so any Arsenal fan pleased that we’re now missing a player at this key point in the season, wants their head checking if you ask me. We need as many players fit as possible.
At least the Per and Gabriel injuries are not as bad as first feared. Both should be ready for this weekend but personally I’d look at giving Chambers a run out on Sunday, resting one of the two anyway, because we can’t afford any more players going down injured right now. So if there are any doubts we should be giving players more time to recover.
The next week and a bit are going to be crucial and I hope Arsène gives us an idea of what he’s thinking from a rotation perspective. We’re out of the Champions League – we all need to accept that, even him – so for me the two games either side of that trip to Spain should be prioritised. We have an FA Cup game that could see us return to Wembley, as well as a league title bid that whilst I think is over, still has us clinging on to hope for dear life when we play Everton. Play the percentages, Arsène, just like Pochettino did against Dortmund last night. He has seen the opportunity to go for the league and he’s taking it. He doesn’t want to go down in swashbuckling style by playing his best team and flogging them until they’re dead on their feet. We should do the same with our players. There is no such thing as glorious failure. Just failure. Or success. By throwing next week’s game against the Catalan’s, we’ll increase our chances against Everton, the following weekend.
Of course we know he won’t. He will most like rotate a little bit this weekend, then play a full strength side in midweek and they’ll all be knackered by Saturday lunchtime, so all we can do is watch on and hope that there’s enough left in the tank. We shall see. We could feasibly see our whole season implode in three games. If we lose to Watford, lose to Barcelona and even get a draw against Everton (Leicester will have beaten a hopeless Newcastle at home and be 11 clear of us by then), that will effectively end any hopes of any competition. However, win against Watford and a victory at Everton may see the faint hopes of a title bid flicker back to life. We’ve had a pretty shocking 2016 so far, so a chink of light appearing at the end of this metaphorical dark tunnel we’ve been down, would be most welcome.
It’s up to the players to show that this ‘secret meeting‘ that Theo spoke about a couple of days ago, has had the desired effect, like the meeting that was had after the Spurs defeat a couple of years ago. Back then it proved a catalyst behind the players turning an imploding season into a fantastic run of form and we need a similar reaction right now if we’re to win any silverware at all this season. The Hull game may have been against a poor side, but the reaction was still there from the players and the importance of those two goals apiece from two confidence players in Walcott and Giroud, will only be able to be felt in the next few games. Giroud especially – as I’ve said before – is a streaky kind of player. He’d gone just under a dozen games without a goal before Tuesday I believe, so the fact that he’s got 20 this season goes to show that his goalscoring tends to come in spurts. How much would we all take a spurt of goals now, eh?
A lot, I’d wager, which is why I have a funny feeling he might start again this weekend. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Arsène thinks first though.
Right, I’m off, so have yourself a merry little Friday.