Some thoughts on winning
Yes, winning – you remember it. It’s what I’m confident will happen on Sunday. A combination of hot Spuds breath down our necks, Fulham’s pressing engagement in Hamburg and it being a home fixture ought to be enough to lift the players from their black dog days and ensure the season ends on an even keel.
Our injury list, far from shortening, remains stubbornly lengthy though. Denilson, Bendtner, Rosicky and Song join Almunia, Fabregas, Gallas, Ramsey and Vermaelen on the sidelines. Clichy is a doubt.
We do suddenly have a bit more depth in defence though, with Gibbs and Djourou fit and presumably eager to contribute in some way before the summer kicks in.
Gibbs is still young, but nevertheless I wonder, when the World Cup squad is announced and he is not in it, whether he will consider it a chance missed. I do honestly think that he could have made the left-back backup place his own had he not had his foot broken against Standard Liege. It’s rank bad luck.
Djourou too will no doubt be keen to play at least a few minutes of Premier League football this season. He’s not kicked a ball in anger. In fact, he’s such a forgotten man he’s not even on the squad stat page.
Personally, I’d be happy to play both of them – though given the sudden importance of the match, I’d be surprised if more than one of them started, and not very surprised if neither did.
Some thoughts about losing
I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but as downers in your heads go, this one has been a belter.
Wenger: “Since we have gone out of the Champions League there was a little downer in our heads, but we have enough pride and quality to finish the season well and to secure the third place.”
I do understand how a shattering 6-3 aggregate defeat can badly affect morale, but you’d think four games is a long time to wallow. One thing that the current team has been accused of is failing to bounce back fast enough after a disappointing result – the above Champions League and its subsequent games being the prime example. After all, one of the signs of a strong side is the ability to rustle up a win after a defeat.
There’s one thing thinking we take too long to recover, but what’s the reality?
Well, we’ve lost nine league games this season, and it’s very interesting to note that not one of them has been an isolated defeat.
Our first league defeat, away at Man Utd on 29th August, was followed by a loss at Man City.
Our third league loss, away at Sunderland on 21st November was followed by reversals against Chelsea and Manchester City (OK, League Cup), albeit with a home win against Standard Liege sandwiched in between.
We then went on a decent unbeaten league run, losing none for almost two months.
However, when we lost again at home to Man Utd on 31st January, we followed it with a defeat at Chelsea.
Then there’s the final, freshest of these funks, two consecutive losses against the Spuds and Wigan, followed with a nil-nil bore draw and another loss at Blackburn.
Now of course, these losing streaks were often against very strong sides, with many of these tricky matches strung one after the other in a peculiarity of the fixture list.
But it’s striking nonetheless.