An Arsenal-heavy interlull delays my derby nerves

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Before we can all properly address the tightening stomach muscles associated with Saturday’s derby showdown, we have for once got an interlull containing no little Arsenal interest to contend with this evening.

Not only has that serial ignorer and arch hater of English talent, Arsene Wenger, gone and quietly provided England with three players – Gibbs, Walcott and Wilshere, the latter since withdrawn through injury – but the opposition is France and one thing we haven’t got at the club is a deficiency of Frenchmen. The French national side even trained at London Colney, and as far as I can ascertain, they didn’t go on strike or have a strop.

I’m not quite sure how many of our French boys will start tonight but I’ll pop a guess that we’ll see all three of Clichy, Nasri and Sagna begin the game.

Looking forward to it as I am, it also has a rather combustible air to it and with five Arsenal players on the same pitch, the miserable sod in me has started panicking about injuries. We are told that Gibbs will start, which is fantastic news. To be honest, in his case it is a much needed game. He’s had a miserable run of injuries since having his foot broken almost exactly a year ago. By my money playing for England tonight will be his third comeback from injury this season, so of all our players on view tonight, he is the one for whom I will be clutching the lucky rabbit’s foot.

Across London, Chelsea appear to have been Arsenalled somewhat, with their first-choice centre-half pairing both now crocked long-term. Seemingly untouchable this season, Chelsea have in recent weeks wobbled somewhat and Arsenal’s two excellent consecutive away wins mean we have capitalised on it. However, we have had a dismal run of injuries at Arsenal for several seasons now, so you won’t catch me ner-nerring in the general direction of Fulham Broadway. Although many of our walking wounded are back in action, we’re still missing our best centre-half.

Koscielny has had a steep learning curve since he joined, and on current form you’d have to say our first-choice centre-back pairing is Djourou and Squillaci. The lofty Swiss had in recent games found his football boots after an absurdly long absence and is being talked of as another Arsenal renaissance man.

If talk in August had been of potential renaissances, who’d have put their money on Fabianski and Djourou?

For what it’s worth I reserve judgement – principally because he’s only been back a few games and he seems to be clad in various bandages every time he steps out onto the pitch.

As an appendix, my players of the season so far are Nasri (up a massive notch), Fabianski (purely for rising from the ashes), Chamakh (better than Bendtner) and Wilshere (staggering talent coming of age).

Right, I shall enjoy tonight. Tomorrow I might get in there early and endulge myself with a few pre-derby nerves.

Few links here I couldn’t be bothered to shoe-horn in:

Blanc’s new French revolution
Ashley Young to Arsenal [believe that when I see it]
Manu Petit on football life in London [in French]


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Baroktsion

    Would u choose vdv over nasri? It’ll be intersting to see how sanga cope against theo pace n we might hv some idea of how is gonna do against bale

  2. Mike

    1 nil to the Arsenal, had a weird dream last nite and thats about it. I dont remember who scored it, I think Walcott, Fab or Chamakh I think. But I remember waking up and thinking is it Saturday ??? Oh it was a dream.My dreams are never wrong. If I was a gambling man I would put some money on this one, but I’m not. Oh Chelsea will draw , so we will be level on points, but 2nd in goal diff. You heard it here first. Mike

  3. 433

    That Paul Doyle piece in the Guardian is a good overview. Much of the same information is disseminated in real time on the France world cup blog (, if anyone has the stomach for that sort of thing.

    Excellent appendix to your post, RotorGoat. Those four players are certainly worthy of mention – Fabianski less so, as your qualifier suggests, because he’s not always selected, and he’s had some howlers.

    Also, though, in the Guardian piece on Opta stats, it suggests Sagna, Clichy, and Fabregas are the best players in the league at their positions. Those stats don’t capture the disappointment of Clichy’s odd game-changing blunder, but Sagna and Fabregas are right up there with our players of the season, I’d suggest (as they always are).

  4. RotorGoat

    Cheers 433. The Fabregas stats are odd though. Since his injury he’s been really feeling his way back into things and by his own admission has had a few sub-par performances.

    It either tells you the Opta stats are bunkum or that he’s so superb that even playing at half-pace there is nobody quite like him. Inclined to believe the latter!

  5. Uncle Mike

    I had a dream about Arsenal last night, too. Sort of. I dreamt I was somewhere that had nothing to do with football, but I was wearing my 1971 replica shirt, and someone told me I shouldn’t be wearing it. Not because of whatever bunch of tossers he supported, but because it was too tight and made me look fat. I hate to say it, but… he’s right. Supporting Arsenal hasn’t made my hair go gray or fall out, but it has made me eat and drink more.

    On the other hand, the first time I had a dream about Arsenal, I was actually on the field. Sorry, forgot to “speak English” there: I was on the pitch, playing right wing (makes sense, my left foot can’t shoot for squat), and we were playing a team in white shirts. Spurs, maybe? I’m not sure, but I hope it was Spurs. I passed the ball to Arshavin, and, as they say in hockey, he went top shelf, sending a laser beam into the top of the net, and the goalie never had a chance. One-nil to The Arsenal. I was so excited I woke myself up. Rats, I didn’t get a chance to put one in myself.

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