Random, late Friday night checkin from me. It’s been one of those weeks.
Was I surprised about Wednesday’s result? Not really. But I do think too much can be read into results like that. Part of the problem, I think, lies as ever with the format of the competition we were playing in. We waltzed through the first three games, scoring fourteen goals, needing just one point from the next nine to qualify. You can see how easy it might have been to consider it job done.
One of the following three games was always going to be a dead rubber. Had we won in Donetsk, the game in Portugal could have easily gone the same way. I’m not saying there’s an excuse for complacency but it’s the kind of situation – that’s to say, a situation in which there is still room for error – that is a breeding ground for it.
The good news for the weekend is that no such mental slack-off period exists. We might be second but we are five points adrift and Chelsea are showing little stomach for a cave-in. We need to stay with them.
And the other good news is the return of several players – Fabregas, Denilson, Song and Arshavin. On top of that, van Persie has resumed training, primed for a Dutch recall during which he will no doubt be trodden on innocuously and ruled out for another three months. Joking aside (or am I?) he should never have been called up but I can’t help but wonder whether he himself could not have been a little more understanding. How difficult would it have been to rule himself out? Not very. It’s a friendly, he’s been out for yonks, and he’s not exactly a fringe player in the Dutch squad fighting for his place, Kevin Davis stylee. He knows full well he’ll come back into the side whether he misses this one or not. I know he’s as orange as Phil Brown but the whole thing achieves nothing other than getting Wenger’s heckles up.
Anyway, if you want to hear Wenger in his own words on the injury situation (sad but true fact: talking about injuries is the most crucial and anticipated conversation of the week if you are an Arsenal fan), there’s a free clip below. Enjoy the weekend and here’s to three of your finest points sterling.