Happy Bank Holiday Sunday to those of you in the UK, enjoying the extra day off tomorrow, which means we can all have an extra cheeky beverage or two this afternoon and then take a bit of a lie in for the morning too.
I wonder what the Arsenal players will be doing today. It’s a weird one because they travelled yesterday and so will have already arrived, so will it be a bit of sightseeing and a relaxing Sunday afternoon, before they start training tomorrow? Or will Unai have them on it asap? These guys are human beings and whilst you want them to be absolutely ready and at their physical optimum, sometimes that means giving them rest time too and so there’s clearly a balance to be struck. There are still three days before we play Chelski and it’s also four hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime, so they’ll need some time to adjust their body clocks because they’ll be playing at 12am local time when the final comes around and so unless the balance is got right you could have players that are tired going in to a match. I mean tired as in you haven’t had enough sleep, so the club will need to plan out their sleep and wake times so that they keep their body clocks in line with UK time rather than Azerbaijani time.
It’s funny because as a fan you never really put yourself in the players or coaching staffs’ position and think about the logistics of a football match like this, but all of these things need to be taken in to consideration, as well as diet, sleep, length of training, what gets them playing at their optimum and when to know when to have them stop and rest. Modern football clubs are well-oiled machines – even the ones that seem a little bit of a shambles when results don’t go their way – but there will be an army of support staff in place to make sure the players are playing at their optimum ahead of one of the biggest football matches in our recent history. And we have to hope that they are ready and have got those players up for it.
There’s the added incentive of “doing it for Mkhi” too that could be a motivating factor for the team. Sokratis has popped up on my Sky Sports feed telling us that the team want to win it for the Armenian and with that little bit of incentive I’m hoping that it fires up the players a little more too. I went on the Chelsea Fans Radio Show on LoveSport on Friday night and gave my manifesto for why Chelski should let us win and this was one of the bits I talked about, but I also referenced the fact they took Giroud from us (thereby making us a 25% less handsome team overnight), they’ve already won the competition in recent times, they don’t need it for Champions League qualification and they’re losing Hazard anyway so they might as well let us win it. All of course tongue-in-cheek but the reality is that these Arsenal players should have more motivation to win it than the Chelski players. The pressure is 100% more on our players and that should drive them to doing that extra bit more than our opponents on Wednesday night.
But they are favourites for a reason, which is that ultimately over the course of the last season they have been better than us, and I also suspect their defence is ‘less sh*t’ than ours, so I’m hoping that somehow Koscielny, Monreal and Sokratis can channel their inner Maldini’s on Wednesday and put in the kind of performance we saw from Mertesacker in the cup final against them a couple of years’ back. That day was an ageing centre half rolling back the years to show that in a one-off game he can still do it. Perhaps, if the rumours are true about Koscielny, he can emulate his former partner and we get the same kind of performance on Wednesday? Here’s hoping.
That’s pretty much it from me today. It’s all understandably quiet but I suspect we’ll see some of the build up hotting up tomorrow.
Catch you then.