It didn’t take long for the sweet FA to reject Ade Cool’s appeal against his sending off, did it? They’re going for this whole punishment lark with puritanical zeal. I don’t know why I’m surprised though; it was all rather predictable.
The interesting thing is that Ade didn’t appeal against his card on the grounds of mistaken identity, which is odd as I thought he had been sent off for punching – something he denied doing. So he can expect an extra match ban for “reacting aggressively and failing to leave the field of play immediately after being sent off”. The guiltier party, Eboue, has also not escaped censure and has been charged with “violent conduct”.
I have little sympathy for Eboue, but I do feel for the Cool. He overreacted to the card, but prior to that he never hit anyone, in fact he argues with justification that he was merely trying to break things up. Surely a three-game ban is more than sufficient here?
Either way, it leaves us in a pickle. Ade Cool and Kolo Toure are suspended for tonight, with Henry, Rosicky & Diaby injured, and Fabregas rested. Added to those are the doubtfuls: Hoyte [hamstring], Djourou [ankle], Flamini [foot] and Clichy [foot] are all struggling to be fit. I also read somewhere that Walcott’s shoulder injury might rule him out.
Fortunately, we can call on the experience of Gallas, Ljungberg, Hleb and Gilberto, and you can guarantee that all four of them will be in tonight’s starting eleven.
What we can also do is use this whole episode to our advantage. As well as learning important lessons from it, if the players are aggrieved at the punishments it can foster a useful togetherness that would see us in good stead.
We’ll need it tonight as I expect Mark Hughes is smelling blood. It’s in these circumstances – in a bit of a corner – that Arsenal used to be at their belligerent best.