Firstly – perhaps I was a little harsh on Hleb in my last mutterings. He played extremely well against Fulham, that I now concede. Though I do still maintain there’s still a lot to get right, especially in defence and on the wings. The latter is a bit of a broken record, though it might explain why some papers are linking us with this man.
At half time one of the reprobates next to me insisted that Hleb had set himself the target of ten goals this campaign, and I must confess I scoffed so loudly I promised to Cossack dance across the turf at the Grove should such an event occur.
By the end I had crossed my arms and was warming up the knee joints by way of practise. I don’t know what would be more shocking: Hleb’s tenth goal hitting the net or me wheezing and slaloming across the turf with my arms crossed and my legs chugging away like pistons.
A win is a win, a plain fact that won’t be lost on our chums up the road this morning.
Tonight we kick off the crucial first leg of our Champions League tie (last time Champions: 2004) against Sparta Prague, and we’re without a bunch of useful players. Denilson and Diaby are both crook (which would explain our Nige’s appearance on the opening day), Eduardo is not yet fit and the same can be said for Adebayor and Gilberto. The inclusion of Song in the squad does of course mean the above headline can be wheeled out; terrible, I know, and used elsewhere plenty of times, but there you go.
Needless to say, being in the Champions league group stage is more than just an extra £10m (like Wenger would spend it anyway!) It’s a crucial test for an emerging team and being out of it so early would be a huge wasted opportunity. So we need to get a decent result tonight in order that, in the return leg, Jens can thin-air a few backpasses safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to affect things too much.
What’s my view on what the Daily Mail calls ‘Armband Wars’? I find the whole thing odd, especially if Gilberto really did find out via the web. I’m not saying Bill Gallas will not be a good captain because only time will tell on that front (and Wenger has defended him), but Gilberto at the very least deserved a face-to-face explanation.
On the bright side, it does mean that Gilberto reads websites. So Gilberto, if you’re reading this, CHIN UP OLD BOY, as we say in England, or used to 70 years ago. Wenger might not rate you but I reckon you’d be hard pushed to find a better Invisible Wall anywhere.