Wednesday: the beginning of the end

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Do I detect an element of lethargy? I do in myself, and I’ve noticed it in others: those three cup defeats have taken something out of all of us. Wenger too – I don’t recall him ever having admitted to being “lost” before. Unable to see, yes. Lost, no.

But get back on track we must, and starting tomorrow at the Villa. It’s yet another caravan of ins and outs, with Rosicky, the Flamster and Hoyte coming back into the side, waving as they do at Toure, Adebayor, Eboue and Clichy going in the other direction. The latter four are all suspended, a pretty extraordinary achievement if you think about it. Hleb – the villain of the piece if you believe Buffalo Bill Gallas’s assertions – has picked up an injury and is also out. Henry and van Persie too, for obvious reasons.

I’m no shrink, but to me tomorrow’s game could take one of two directions. Either we roar back and prove a point or two (three would be good) – and we’re more than capable of it – or we submit meekly, wallowing a touch in the misfortunes of the last few weeks.

I’m concerned, as most gooners are, about the lack of goals. We picked the rubbishest time of the season to forget how to score, but with Baptista and Aliadiere our only two recognised strikers, and a midfield also struggling for goals, you can see how it’s happened.

The Mirror today reported that Arsenal want to sign Bap on a permanent deal for a fee in the zone of £8m. I’ll be honest: one minute I can see why and the next I’m convinced he’ll be off come the summer. But overall, on balance, I think he’d be a valuable addition to the squad. He’s scored eight goals in eleven starts, he’s picking up the English game, and even if his second touch is a tackle (thanks to Steve for that, I like it), my view is he’s got more to offer.

Tomorrow I’d give the excellent Diaby a chance. He’s been fantastic since his return from injury, and he’s also got that all-important midfield drive. He doesn’t score goals, but hey, he’s in good company.

And finally, I’m not a man for dipping my oar into politics as a rule, but I do like a good cause, which is why I’m all for footballers giving up a day’s wages for the UK’s underpaid nurses. If you fancy it, head to Mayday For Nurses and register your approval. The campaign is trying to sign all Premiership players up to give up one day of their wages for the cause, and thus far our very own capitano Thierry Henry has pledged his support.


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