Massive Attack on Thursday, Tiny Attack on Wednesday…
A very good morning to you on this Arsenal-free Saturday, brought to you courtesy of Le Boss’s callow team selection at Stoke in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
I was quite surprised at the time how many fans simply shrugged their shoulders and wrote the FA Cup off as a nothing competition. ‘Bigger fish to fry’ etc.
I’ve almost certainly got a few more miles on the clock than some Arsenal fans, and peer too frequently and too nostalgically into the depths of my mind to the days when FA Cup final coverage started at about 9am, but there’s more to it than that.
It was a competition we had a very good chance of doing well in this year, it would have shut the ‘nothing for five years’ doubters up for another season, but above all it’s a competition I love. Don’t try and tell me the interminable group stages of the Champions League are anything to write home about. They can be turgid beyond belief.
Anyway, here we are and as luck would have it, the proper part of the European Cup is just round the corner. It’s now that the competition morphs from a money-guaranteeing mini league to a proper knockout cup, and boy does it make a difference.
For Arsenal, it’s Porto on Wednesday and lady luck appears not to be shining on one player in particular: Andrei Arshavin. Last season, little Andrei had to watch on from the bench as we got knocked out in the semi-final, cup-tied and no doubt deeply frustrated. I suspect he joined Arsenal at least in part to have a good pop at the Champions League.
Now, having battled manfully up front on his own throughout Arsenal’s strikerless months, ignoring the knocks and bruises, he has finally succumbed to a hamstring ping on the eve of the one competition he had no say in last season. Cruel indeed.
His official website (for we live in times when players have their own websites) says he’s out; Arsenal’s site has not quite gone that far but we have no reason to disbelieve the former so on that basis he’s out.
As for last Wednesday, well it seems so far away now that it’s hardly worth bringing up. But two things I will say: First, before the win the gloomier amongst us (guilty, m’lud) began looking down rather than up, but three points means we can now look up again, albeit squintingly. And second, Diaby’s goal reminded me not only how much I love headed goals from sweet crosses, but also how infrequently we seem to score like that anymore. Room for thought there, Arsene.
OK, that’s it then. Have a good weekend.