Morning all. It’s Friday and I’m still irked about what happened on Tuesday night. What about you?
I suppose some of that also has to do with the fact that yesterday early evening the FA released a statement to say that David Luiz’s appeal for his red card was ignored. I don’t think any of us thought otherwise. But then to make an announcement on the same day, for what looks to me like an almost identical situation involving Bednarek from Southampton in their game against Man United, that he has had his appeal accepted is, quite frankly, baffling.
You almost have to laugh at it, it is that farcical, but there we go. We have incompetence at the highest level from the people running our game and this has only served to highlight it further.
Mikel probably doesn’t want to dwell on it tomorrow but he did acknowledge that we have shafted ourselves at times this season. The Pepe and Xhaka cards were stupidity. The Leno one was a moment of madness, the Gabriel one seemed a little harsh but sometimes this happens, the Luiz one this week was a farce. But we have still picked up far too many. We have picked up two more cards than any other team in the league this season and are currently second from bottom in the fair play league. It has cost us; it did on Tuesday and if we continue to do stupid things like getting players sent off then we will continue to drop points. Arteta knows that and again it’ll be something that he will look to re-enforce in his players. Some of those cards you can’t do anything about, but some you can.
The funny thing is we aren’t a dirty team in the slightest. We have 31 yellow cards this season which is 11th in the league. Sheffield United have had an additional 12 yellow cards on top of us this season, for example. So it is just that we need to cut out the red mist moments, then when you have instances like the Gabriel one, you just have to take it on the chin. It happens.
Let’s start to look away from the negatives though, because we do have plenty to be positive about ahead of the game away at Villa Park tomorrow lunchtime. The form of Nicolas Pepe is one. He has two goals in his last three games and the intensity of his running, the centrality of it too, has meant that he’s getting in to better positions on the pitch and becoming more of a goal threat. Arteta was asked about the headache that it causes him and he responded by saying that players in form need to play. That will be music to Pepe’s ears and I think that there’s no way you can’t play him tomorrow from the start given the last few matches. He was good against Southampton, good against Man United and good for the first half against Wolves when it was 11 v 11. Hopefully his confidence is up and we see more of the same tomorrow.
Sadly, what we won’t get to see is Kieran Tierney and I have to ask you as a fellow gooner, is your spider sense tingling on this one?
Apparently the injury that he did have has now been compounded by a second injury and I have to be honest with you, I am starting to worry, like I did when we had the Rosicky injury all those years ago. Remember that? He picked up a knock, we thought he’d be out for a few weeks or maybe a month, then he missed a year of football. It is a real worry for me when the club aren’t clear on the injury. It says to me they are a little baffled and for a player who was just getting in to his stride and giving us such good performances, it is a real blow for us. Hopefully I am just over-projecting, but I have Rosicky vibes over this situation, i’m afraid.
It means Cedric will once again play and he’s done ok so far. He’s not as good as Tierney and doesn’t offer as much going forward, but he’s been passable as a deputy left back. The problem we have though is that there aren’t many other options now with Maitland-Niles now at West Brom. If something happens to Bellerin at the weekend what do we do then? Stick Saka at left back and swap Cedric over? That’s hardly the best use of Saka right now, is it?
Still, let’s cross that bridge as and when it happens, but also hope that Tierney can be back soon, because it would be nice to actually have a fully fit squad to choose from just once this season.
I think that’s all I’ll do for today. More on the why’s and wherefores’ of the Villa game tomorrow, as well as the sweepstake on which of our players will either brainfart, or get shafted by Chris Kavanagh at some point during the game.
Catch you all tomorrow.