October 29, 2011
Can someone please tell me what’s going on with all these early kick-offs? Have the police got wind of how rowdy our fans have been lately and decided the safest thing is to get the games over with before our army of solicitors and estate agents have had a chance to get too many Babychams in? (That last line was brought to you courtesy of 1983. Is Babycham still even a thing?) They must have heard about the last time we had a 3pm kick-off, sometime in 2008, when the crowd got so juiced up that the guy behind me stopped talking about his holiday home in Provence and announced that he wouldn’t be awfully displeased if these Tottenham boys took something of a beating.
Maybe the FA just realise how much I hate writing the short-lived preview. I’d better just get on with it.
Chelsea today and it’s the first proper test since things have picked up a little bit for us. You feel like a decent result today would really change the complexion of the season. Arsene Wenger, as always, agrees:
First of all a win would of course install us among the top teams in the league. But what is very important is that it would strengthen the belief inside the team and would continue our progress.
I feel we are getting stronger and Chelsea is a big test – a test of strength, a test of resolve, a test of commitment – and that is what we expect tomorrow.
With the strength of the two Manchester sides this season, it’s easy to forget what a strong squad Chelsea still have. Their fans will be upset that bogeyman Didier Drogba will be suspended for this one. They’ll be forced to bring in this Torres guy. Don’t know much about him but apparently he cost over three times more than we’ve ever spent on any player so he could potentially be a useful sub. They’ve also got Juan Mata of course this season having snubbed us in the summer. They look a more attacking outfit this year so it will be a big test for our defence.
Wenger has some big decisions to make as to who that defence will consist of. Jenkinson has trained but looks like he’ll be short. Vermaelen is fit but there are concerns over whether he has the sharpness to start such a big game. There’s also the small matter of whether he’s happy to break up the burgeoning pairing of Per and Kos at centre-back. I think it all comes down to the right back position. If Jenkinson can play I think we’ll put him in and stick with the centre-backs. If not, I can’t see him risking Djourou at right back. I’d expect Vermaelen to step in and Kozzer to go out to RB.
So I expect the line up to be: Woj – Santos – Verm – Per – Koz – Song – Arteta – Ramsey – Gervinho – Van Persie – Arshavin.
Think Andrei will get the nod ahead of Theo after his display midweek giving us the opportunity to use Theo’s pace from the bench. Whether he’ll be given some freedom to come inside into his preferred position will be interesting to see. I would also expect to see Park rise from his bench at some stage.
It’s funny that with the emergence of Manchester City and their bottomless pockets completely sabotaging the rest of the league and the way that football is run, Chelsea seem relatively tame now in comparison. But don’t forget, they’re still a club that operates way beyond their means so it’s appropriate that Arsene Wenger was asked his latest thoughts on the Financial Fair Play regulations yesterday. He seems a worried man:
I am less optimistic about it coming in than I was a year ago. And when it comes in, it depends on with what kind of rules.
I am not sure that UEFA has completely worked out all the rules that will make it work.
As we heard again at the AGM this week our entire business model is geared towards these rules being implemented and implemented properly. If the rules come in we are absolutely set to flourish with our self-sustaining model. If not, we’ll find it hard to compete and other clubs, less intelligently run than us, WILL go to the wall.
Yesterday’s statement by Arsene is a timely nudge:
UEFA has been challenged by the Sion case when they excluded them [from the Europa League for fielding ineligible players] and it looks like they are scared they could be challenged by the big clubs if they bring in [FFP] by force.
So I am not sure they will be capable of imposing it.
Not just Arsenal fans, but all fans should hope that they are. Chelsea had a blow this week as they failed to buy back control of the Stamford Bridge freehold. It’s a reminder that they only have two-thirds of the stadium capacity that we have and it’s seriously affecting their ability to bring in cash. And yet their reserve striker today cost them £50 million. Park and Chamakh cost us £2 million between them. It’s a stupidly large gulf in resources.
Let’s hope we can bridge that gulf today on the pitch.
Come On You Reds!