Core blimey, me ‘n the Management had one of those “well that escalated quickly” evening, with the help of rum, gin, tonic, vodka and cranberry and Pinot Grigio Blush, last night. Not all together at the same time obviously, but by the taste in my mouth it kind of felt like it.
Means I’m somewhat on the tired and fragile side today, so it’s probably good that there’s no Arsenal on today because a) I could do without the stress of it all, and b) my body could probably do without all the pints.
Arsene and his players will also possibly be off today and I wonder how they’re feeling ahead of the game on Monday? If you’d have listened to his press conference yesterday you wouldn’t really be any the wiser. The same questions about his contract, the same answers from Arsene and even when they probed him more, he just batted away the journalists’ responses. If he really wants this line of questioning he could do it in seconds by announcing something one way or the other. He knows that, they know that and you just wonder if it’s irritating him that much, why on earth would you just keep on going with this charade? When the speculation on Pellegrini grew, Man City took the action to announce his departure during the season and then announced Pep, so you’d think that precedent has been set. But this is Arsenal and Arsene we’re talking about, so precedent doesn’t really mean a lot.
At least he talked a little about the team news and at least Koscielny’s injury is not as bad as feared. I always get worried when the manager doesn’t put a time-frame on a player returning – just look at Santi as an example – but he’s said it’s short term so hopefully that means we’ll see him back for the Boro game on Easter Monday evening.
What will be interesting is to see how Martinez responds to the game on Monday. Arsene talked him up – as you’d expect him too really – in the press conference in the absence of Cech and Ospina and with Palace away sure to provide more of a challenge for him than West Ham did at home, it does feel as though Monday night could be a watershed moment for Emi. He’s 24 years old, he’s never really looked like he’s going to challenge for the first team spot, yet here is is with an opportunity to stake a claim. And it’s a very real opportunity. Cech has hardly been in sparkling form and the way in which Ospina is routed to his line half the time is something that always has me a little unnerved. But Martinez is a bigger goalkeeper and at his age he needs to be breaking through in to a first team, if not at Arsenal then somewhere, so it will be interesting to see if he plays and plays well. If he does, then why not keep him in the team?
The last time a young third choice ‘keeper was given a shot at Arsenal it was Don Vito all those years ago, which started with such promise but quickly faded after that one stellar performance against Fulham, so my question I’m asking myself is whether we’ll see a Szczesny-style breakthrough at this age or whether Martinez will be another Mannone.
Whatever becomes of him, one things for sure, which is that he needs games and he needs them soon. Another loan deal is not where his head should be at and I don’t think it is. But he’ll either succeed or wilt under the pressure and with the team morale still in a seemingly fragile state we can ill-afford a ‘keeper wilting.
As for the opposition on Monday, Sam Allardyce didn’t really give much of an insight in to his approach to the game, only really mentioning the team’s injury problems ahead of the match. It appears Cabaye will miss the match through injury and although Arsene dismissed his loss as having a major impact on them, the Frenchman is the fulcrum of the team so I’m sure deep down he’ll have been happy. It certainly should work for us although, if I’m honest, I’d rather have seen Benteke out too. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and all that, so we should take whatever small advantage we can.
I think that’ll do me for another Saturday. I’ve got a day at the Ideal Home exhibition in Earl’s Court ahead, so it’ll be wandering around stalls looking to pick up what seems like household technical innovations at the time of purchase, but soon turns to junk when you get home. Hey ho.
Over and out.