As expected, Arsène addressed the media ahead of this weekend on Thursday rather than Friday, with the team travelling oop norf today at some stage. No doubt Alexis will be with them, having told Le Boss that he’s ok via text. Ahh texting, remember that? The thing that we all used to do before Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook came in to our lives? Well, at least he’s given an indication to Arsène about his availability, but whether he’s selected remains to be seen. Arsène reckons he’s going to watch the Chile game to assess the extent of Alexis’ injury. I’m not sure how much that will tell him, because we all already know that Alexis runs through walls even when injured, but I suspect that Arsène will have the medical team giving Alexis a thorough once over rather than just watching the video. We all know how important Alexis is to the team, but given the choice I don’t think there are many Arsenal fans out there who would gamble on his long term fitness for short term game. I was speaking to a fellow gooner at work and I suggested that perhaps we even just rest him for the game, regardless if he’s fit. I know that sounds crazy and of course I want him to play, but that strapping he was wearing makes me concerned that he’s on the verge of breaking down. I just hope I’m wrong if he plays.
The other team news from the press conference surrounded Hector and Santi. Sadly both are out, but whilst Hector’s prognosis sounds definite – four weeks out – Santi’s is more alarming. There have been rumours of Achilles problems from the beginning of the season, so to have Arsène being so vague and admit that he’s not even back in training, worries me. There’s no doubt he has a positive impact when he’s in the squad and playing, so it’s a blow to have one of our key players out with a Rosickyesque timeframe for his return. I just hope that this isn’t one of those injuries whereby we don’t see Santi until Christmas.
For Carl Jenkinson though, Hector’s injury gives him the perfect opportunity to get a run in the team. He’s sure to play in all of the games in the run up to Christmas and I hope that he can show us that he’s a good player who can perform well as Bellerin’s deputy. The good news is that he’s already had some game time quite recently, so I expect him to hit the ground running in the first team, and there’s no better place to start than by being thrown in at the deep end against United.
A United who will be looking to continue their run of ten years without defeat at home to us in the league, and one managed by the most ghastly human in football. Unsurprisingly the press tried to stoke up comments about Jose to Arsène, who did his usual level best to dismiss them as people wanting to create controversy. I’m in no doubt, however, that Mourinho will not be as unaccomodating to the press today though, with his recent favourite way of jibing being to make sarcastic responses towards Arsène’s tenure at the club and the years without trophies. That’s just the sort of person he is and we should expect nothing else.
What we can also expect from tomorrow, will be a United team impossibly hard to break down, because that’s how he’ll set his side up. More on how we counter that in tomorrow’s pre-game blog.
For now, we just have to spend the day reading about the pre-match build up in the press, which will focus on Mourinho’s record, our shocking record up there, as well as what could befall both teams if one loses. I was feeling kind of positive earlier on in the week but for some reason now, I feel less so, with that nervous feeling in my stomach starting to increase with every moment ticking towards kick off.
Let’s just hope that’s not a bad omen.
Righto, time for work, so he I’ll catch you in the morrow.