Now you don’t see ’em, now you do

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Fridays always have the potential to bring better news on the injury front, what with Wenger’s press conference, and there was certainly plenty of good news today.

From a list that that seemed earlier on this week to be mushrooming out of control, things now look a bit more normal, don’t they? Yesterday we learned that Fabianski, Denilson, Vela and Traore were back, while today we were told that Walcott and Wilshere are also fit. And as we know, the injuries to van Persie and Gibbs are not as bad as first thought – though the former still won’t be seen this side of Christmas.

So this is all good news. That’s not to say tomorrow’s squad won’t be markedly different to the last time we played a league game (which feels like about three months ago). Gallas, Sagna and Arshavin may all be rested after their midweek exploits.

It can be hard to keep up with all these injuries, and I do have some sympathy for those who think the modern footballer is far too brittle. On the one hand, I accept, football has become a lot faster, but is that enough to explain the raft of injuries we have endured this season? Other clubs are experiencing this too; it’s definitely not purely an Arsenal thing.

Perhaps I don my rose-tinted spectacles by saying it was never this bad before. I don’t remember ever having six or seven (or more) players out at one time, back in the Don Howe, George Graham era. It’s a good job the modern football squad tends to be so extensive. We need it.

Anyway, the return of league football is a blessed relief.

I have largely managed to avoid the brouhaha about Henry’s handball. I was out on Wednesday night, and I use the Wenger defence by telling you I never even saw it – until today.

For me, the one thing that has come out of this is – yet again – the belief that we now need video technology to take care of contentious issues. We cannot rely on players to be honest, just as we cannot rely on referees to get everything right. Regrettably, nor we can we rely on football’s governing bodies to agree to it at all. But it makes increasing sense to me, and you may even find that it cleans up the game in ways you might not anticipate. Would players hound referees as much if, for example, they knew that their team had three chances throughout a game to question a decision? Would players dive as much?

There’s so much at stage, and I’m increasingly convinced that video technology can be used in a way that doesn’t slow the game down too much and doesn’t totally undermine the referee at the same time.


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