Anyway, Iâ€™m back again. I spent the weekend looking after small children, and as anyone who looks after small children can attest, thereâ€™s not a lot of scope for blogging on the side when youâ€™re in charge. Not a lot of scope for anything, in truth.
So I looked on at the Stoke win in semi-detachment, marvelling in the main at the ability of Andrei Arshavin (5ft 7Â½in) to lead the line.
Remarkably, heâ€™s scored seven goals in fifteen starts this season. This is all the more impressive given the fact heâ€™s not â€“ by his own admission â€“ been firing on all cylinders. Russia being knocked out of the World Cup clearly didnâ€™t help his frame of mind, but even without that, heâ€™s hardly been player-of-the-monthing it. He might not be sizzling hot, but heâ€™s the kind of player who can make something happen nevertheless. I guess thatâ€™s what you get when you shop for experience and are prepared to pay Â£16m.
Heaven only knows what we would do without him at the moment. Our injury concerns have gone beyond worrying about â€“ laughing and inappropriate gags about balsa wood and muscle strains caused by nothing more than the referee blowing his whistle seem to be the order of the day now.
As I mentioned on Twitter earlier today (@eastlower), someone should put their technical hat on and create a twitter feed from Arsenalâ€™s Injury News page. I donâ€™t know how to do it but Iâ€™d certainly appreciate being kept abreast of the latest knocks and knacks. Itâ€™s the most consistent thing about our season at the moment.
Naturally, a win against Stoke was much needed, especially considering the next game is at Anfield. Last yearâ€™s game was the astonishing 4-4, and I confess that, while I tend not to go back over old games that much, I have drooled over Arshavinâ€™s four strikes once or twice since then (while conveniently ignoring the four goals that came in the other direction, the last one in particular).
How we could do with a repeat performance from him.
In the meantime of course, we have the dead rubber against Olympiacos in Athens tomorrow night. In fact, itâ€™s not entirely a dead rubber seeing that Olympiacos need a point to guarantee their place in the last 16, but for Arsenal its merits are a) experience for the Ramseys, Eastmonds and Randalls of this world, and b) the rehabilitation of players like Walcott (who might get his customary 13 minutes on the pitch before he succumbs to the next niggle).
Wilshere on loan? I can see the logic in this, even if the timing, given our general medical calamities, feels a bit odd. Heâ€™s 17 and has played just five times this season. He needs games.
Right, thatâ€™s it for now. Olympiacos should be, if nothing else, interesting. I mean, look at this:
Vela, Walcott, Ramsey, Song, Silvestre, Wilshere, Fabianski, Mannone, Merida, Bartley, Coquelin, Cruise, Eastmond, Emmanuel-Thomas, Gilbert, Ayling, Randall, Sunu.
10 British players there â€“ another nail in the coffin of those who claim home-grown talent gets overlooked.
But can they realistically come away with something?
One last thing
I promised to pass on some info from the gents over at The Gooner Review. They’ve got limited edition Christmas bundles, such as signed Bob Wilson caps, signed Peter Marinello books and ‘The Gooner Review 08-09’ DVDs, so for those looking to tuck into some Christmas present purchasing, you can find out more by going to their website.