Tuesday brings the second working week for me and my new working abode, but more importantly, it brings us a day closer to the match up against Ludogorets at home. I’m gutted for missing the Swansea game – despite the pain it put us all through at the end – but I’m glad that I get my fix back with some football tomorrow, as well as a press conference that is sure to take place today with the manager and one player.
I’ve never really understood the whole ‘wheel one player out in the Champions League pressers’ gig, if I’m honest with you, because it never really throws up anything interesting that the manager couldn’t have said. It’s almost as if the assembled media from across the globe – and you always tend to get more overseas journos asking questions in the Champions League – need some sort of validation that yes, it will be a team comprising of first team players, honest guv.
I guess that must be it. After all, I have fallen foul of clever marketing before at the expense of Arsenal, so I should be appreciative of the justification of having a player there. I think I was about eight, I couldn’t go to games on my own, but Harlow Town were playing an Arsenal XI on their home pitch and I convinced my dad to go. Sadly the emphasis was on the XI, as a mixture of former players and youngsters rocked up, the likes of which I’d never heard of. I will point out that in 1990 social media didn’t exist and the internet was not for the common man, so I never stood a chance of actually having any idea who those players were.
Anyway, let’s step away from that particular psychologically damaging experience and back in to present day, in which we play a Hungarian team who sound more like a board game than a football club. I fully appreciate that I should be respecting the opposition a little bit more, but it would be an almighty upset if we don’t beat the Hungarian champions tomorrow evening, as we should have a wider squad capable of picking up three points. Tomorrow night’s game represents a clear opportunity for Arsène to do a little bit of rotation and I hope he does. We’ll get more of an indication on who’s fit, but I feel like he has some questions that need answering at the moment, particularly at left back. I think Nacho has had some challenges this season and Gibbs has hardly had any game time, but he’s looked good every time he has played. He got a call up to the recent England team and whilst he didn’t manage to start or come on as a sub, hopefully being in that environment would have been a bit of a confidence booster. I think he deserves a shot and if he plays tonight, Arsène could play Nacho at the weekend and then Gibbs again on Wednesday next week. That would give him an opportunity to take a look at both players in quick succession and if Gibbs plays well, then perhaps he has a chance of wrestling a starting jersey from the Spaniard.
Whether Arsène should rotate in other positions – or whether he actually will rotate – I’m not so sure. I feel like this is the sort of game where the Football Manager fans like I see it as an obvious rotation opportunity, but real life is different, particularly when wanting to keep momentum. So I suspect we’ll probably see little rotation other than the ‘keepers. Arsène does like to play the same XI when he’s got the chance – he always has done – so whilst we can look at the squad and wax lyrical about the depth, at this stage in the season the manager hasn’t tended to rotate unless he’s forced in to it with injury.
But all of this speculation can wait until tomorrow. As for today, there’s not really a lot else to talk about. Last night I dipped in to the hyperbole-infused ‘Red Monday‘, but much like Transfer Deadline Day, it was a bit of a damp squib. The only positive I took from it was that neither side swept the other aside, thereby proving that neither are miles ahead of the rest of the competition. So with the weekend’s fixtures now concluded, it appears as though we had a bit of a good one. I love those weekend’s when everyone around you drops points. They’re well ace. So it was that it happened this weekend. We can’t expect it every weekend, so we need to just enjoy it while we can, which I certainly am doing so.
Righto, cheerio, and all that jazz.