March 5, 2012
Comeback. Baby comeback!
That’s what UB40 and Pato Banton (originally the Equals) were singing back in 1994 and I’m pretty sure that song was written about what might happen if at any time in the future Arsenal came back from 2-0 down against Spurs 1-0 down against Liverpool and then faced a 4-0 deficit against AC Milan in the following game.
It’s a pretty straightforward task. All we need to do is score five goals without reply against a team that annihilated us two weeks ago and currently lies top of Serie A. Lucky that’s not a league known for its defensive ability. Ah, dammit…
Yeah, okay. Even with the backing of Pato Banton this looks like a comeback too far. But ever the optimist, Arsene Wenger’s not giving up hope:
We want to make the impossible possible. From the first leg it looks impossible but we have to have a real go, play with belief and think we can do it.
You never know. Maybe I will change the structure of the team to go for it and see if we can put them under pressure and score some goals.
We have nothing to lose. For us to find the right balance between having to completely go forward and not concede a goal will be the difficulty for us because they have talented players.
How did that song go? ‘To dream the impossible dream. To fight the unbeatable foe. To change the structure of your team for the first time in a decade.’ Yeah, it was something like that. Clearly the size of this week’s task demands an inspirational soundtrack. Pato Banton, The Man of La Mancha. Forget DVD releases, if we pull this off we should do a full soundtrack album.
It should definitely be an interesting one. And I’m not just saying that because I have a spare ticket and I’m looking to drum up some interest in a game which we’ve surely already lost. With the injury doubts accruing and I’m sure a reluctance to play anyone who isn’t 100% fit when we have the far more achievable goal of beating Newcastle next Monday, it’s an impossible quest to predict what sort of team we might field. Add to that the tanatalising suggestion of a change in formation and it’s anybody’s guess how we’ll line up.
One player who wants to be involved is our one man midfield engine room Mikel Arteta. He’s been speaking about the horror of something that hundreds of young Scousers face every Saturday night. Being knocked out cold and waking up in a Liverpool hospital :
I have suffered the biggest fear of my life. I only remember the fall by the blow and nothing after. It was terrifying but now I am better.
Sincerely, I do not remember too much apart from the impact. I have heard people applauded me as I left the field and I am grateful for this reception.
He thinks he’ll be okay for tomorrow but I’d be minded to give him a few days off. Trouble is, with Wilshere, Diaby, Coquelin, Frimpong, Benayoun and Ramsey already missing from that midfield it’s hard to know who would come in. Still, glad that injury crisis seems to be over for the time being. Le Boss was joking the other day that to turn things around we might have to play six strikers. That may not turn out to be such a joke. If Park Chu Young fails to get a look in tomorrow night he may as well stop turning up to the training ground altogether.
Wojciech Szczesny has thanked Arsene Wenger for the wise words which he believes led to him saving that Dirk Kuyt penalty on Saturday:
He said I move my feet too early and I end up losing a few inches by moving my feet earlier. Here I said I am not going to move my feet and go as late as I can and it worked. He will try and get all the credit for that.
It is always hard to take stick for not saving a penalty because it is hard for a goalkeeper to save a penalty, so he put a little bit of pressure. But it worked so I cannot say anything.
The second save was down to desire to get there and make it. If they score from a rebound, it doesn’t matter that you saved the penalty. You have to get up and get there. He scuffed the finish a little bit I think which made it easier for me.
It was a big moment for a young man who’s come in for some (undeserved in my opinion) stick in the last couple of months. We know all about his, ahem, ‘confidence’ but what’s really impressive about him is his desire. Desire to learn, desire to win. No one celebrates a win more than Wojciech and the more desire we have in that dressing room the better. As a keeper he’s still learning but when you realise that potentially he could still be pumping his fists in the direction of the Clock End in fifteen years time, he’s got plenty of time to develop.
I feel like I’d be remiss not to mention Chelsea having parted ways with Andre Villas Boas yesterday. After all the fanfare of his arrival he’s lasted just nine months. That’s six managers they’ve been through in eight years and is a timely reminder for us lot that the solution to your woes as a club is not always to have a trigger happy owner. Chelsea have unlimited means and resources and yet they still can’t find a coach to deliver the success they crave. A big part of that is no doubt due to their need to have it all yesterday. If you want a coach to come in and change the way the club plays and rebuild an aging team you have to give him more than nine months to do it in. The instability that it brings to that club will do them no favours and gives Arsenal a great opportunity to go for that fourth spot. But it should remind us that for all the frustrations that Arsene Wenger has given us over the last couple of years there is definitely something to be said for stability and continuity.
Despite this being a pretty terrible season to be an Arsenal fan, and it has been, there’s no doubt about that, we still, somehow, lie in fourth, and credit has to go to Le Boss for that. He was talking yesterday about that turnaround and reminding us that when we last played Liverpool the press thought we were playing this season to avoid relegation:
When we played at the start of the season, we were a bit in disarray because we were unstable.
We have since come back into a much better position, we are much more solid and we have 49 points.
When we played Liverpool before we were 17th in the league. We had room for improvement, but I feel we have improved a lot.
We lost Fabregas and Nasri and Wilshere as well. We also lost Diaby. What happened to us was completely unbelievable.
Well, no. It wasn’t completely unbelievable. We knew we were going to lose Fabregas and Nasri, it was just a question of when. And if we didn’t know we were going to lose Diaby the entire coaching staff and medical team needs a slap round the face with a wet fish. Completely unbelievable is not the phrase I would choose.
Still, we have turned it around to an extent and put ourselves in a position to fight for that top four, even though that should hardly be the height of our ambition. But if we manage it then we give ourselves another chance to assemble the sort of squad that might challenge for trophies next year.
And the Spuds result yesterday means the gap there is now just four points. If we could reel them in having been ten behind two weeks ago I’ll have to dig out the Pato Banton again.
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