When a weekend begins with midnight karaoke at a restaurant serving Korean BBQ (just don’t ask – but I fear I may have sung Jambalaya by the Carpenters, which is humiliating in the extreme), you know anything could happen.
And so the weekend continued: a game pretty much everyone thought we’d win, myself and my thick head included, ended in a draw. Did we deserve the three points? No. We started brightly, but the second half was poor, we didn’t create enough clean chances and Birmingham merited their point.
It’s frustrating, especially given the manner in which we negotiated our tortuous Christmas schedule, but that’s football. In truth, we’re still searching for our best form. I had thought it was coming back, but on yesterday’s performance it’s a way off yet. Too many of our top players were less than imposing.
This league campaign is so tight that a home draw means we’ve conceded the momentum too. That’s not a negative point because I’m well aware we’re joint top – but when the margin is so small that’s what happens.
Fabregas was below par, Hleb was not at his imperious best and Walcott was powder-puff.
Our great English hope has come in for some stick recently, and perhaps that’s no bad thing. His transfer fee, the general hype of his emergence and the fact he is an Englishman in a team of foreign players means he’s been bigged up more than is fair. Perhaps a small readjustment of what we expect from him is a good thing. He’s performing only in snatches, and seems to be one of those players who needs confidence or it just doesn’t happen. So yes, he does need to do more, but let’s not forget he’s only 18.
Bendtner, just a year older, has been far more effective. But Walcott cannot be too downhearted – 21 appearances and three goals in the first half of the season is not bad at all for an 18-year-old.
Talking of Englishmen, the noises coming out of the club over the last few weeks are encouraging. We’re apparently close to signing Luke Freeman, a 15-year-old striker from Gillingham, and Wenger has been quick to point out that in addition to him we have – in his opinion – the best crop of young English players we’ve had in a decade. Gibbs, Lansbury, G Hoyte, Randall – all these players are young enough to have been through the Wenger-era youth system from the beginning, so it will be interesting to see if he is right.
And on that note I stop.