Morning all. I did the classic thing of waking up in the middle of the night, and in the course of trying to get back to sleep thought of something particularly noteworthy to blog about this morning. Sure enough, when I woke up, I couldn’t remember a jot. I remember once being advised by someone to leave a notebook by the side of my bed so I could write down dreams, nightmares, blog ideas. But I never remember to do that either. It’s a vicious circle.
Anyway, one thing I did do this morning is look at the league table. Now, there’s no doubt we’re still in there and the top of the table has certainly not run away from us. But it’s noticeable that when the margins are so tight, even playing 24 hours after your rivals, as we are doing today, adds an extra pressure. Win today and on Wednesday and we all know we’ll be right up there. Lose or draw today and suddenly we’re back to being five or six points off the pace.
Which is why a couple of tepid performances can be very damaging. We were pretty awful against Everton and we can’t afford to do anything other than fly out the blocks this afternoon as a result.
It could be the classic banana skin. New managers have an uncanny ability to galvanise their new sides, even if that galvanisation only last a few games. Typically, today is Bolton’s first game under Owen Coyle.
Fortunately for us, we’ve got Fabregas back, and well enough though our third-choice left-back Armand Traore has done, I’d hustle Clichy back into the side if he’s as near as Wenger insists he is to being ready. Vermaelen has been an excellent addition to our defence, but as a unit we’re still shipping goals and Clichy’s return could tighten things up.
While we’ve had a fair few clean sheets at home, as you’d expect, it won’t surprise you to discover that away from home we’ve not kept a clean sheet in the league since 26th September, a 1-0 win at Fulham.
Yes, we still need a striker, but there are things we can do in the interim to help ourselves. Defending better, both individually, as a defensive unit and as a team is as good a place to start as any.