Tony Colbert’s sponge


WBA 2-2 Arsenal

Goodbye March 2011, it’s been a pleasure. The Arsenal title bandwagon mustered two points from six this month, sprinkled between two cup exits. It’s a bandwagon in dire need of a band-aid. But given that everything in the northern hemisphere comes out of hibernation in April, I’m rather hoping that includes Arsenal’s players and form.

“It will be down to consistency and, as I said, character”, said Wenger post-match on Saturday, two attributes we keep losing down the back of the sofa.

Not strictly fair, I know: The last 15 minutes were more like it, with Wenger throwing caution to the wind by playing three centre forwards. Arsenal discovered some urgency and accuracy, and it nearly worked. But tossing away two goals is no way to tee yourself up for three points, and in the end, that did for us.

Will we honestly see Lehmann between the sticks this season? It would be quite a story, but Jens has been retired for a year, he’s 41 and I just can’t see it. If he did displace Almunia, he’d be our fourth first-choice keeper of the season. I’m not sure it could have happened like this anywhere but at Arsenal.

Incidentally, Szczesny was injured on 8th March and was ruled out for six weeks, so with a prevailing wind he may even be back himself in mid April. He may, of course, also not be.

What else? Well it seems to me that the next two weeks will all be about injuries. Firstly, our international players need not to get them. And secondly, our injured players need to get rid of them.

I can’t help but think that Tony Colbert’s sponge holds the aces. What happens in the footballing menders over the next two weeks could hold the key to the rest of our season. We urgently need Fabregas, Walcott and Song back – all, surely, realistic returnees. They add different attributes, all of which we could do with: defensive nous, guile, drive, creativity and pace.

I’m relaxed about things because my glass is half empty. Given the evidence presented to me in recent weeks, I no longer expect much.

But get those players back for Blackburn at home, grab all three points, and… well it’s tantalising, isn’t it?

Football is so murderously simple in my head.