Good morning, it’s been an eventful week here at Leper Towers (sounds like some sort of dreaded hospital where the people go in, but nobody comes out – “No, please! Don’t take me to Leper Towers! I want to live!”) however Arsenal it has to be said have not been a large part of it because on the whole things have been pretty quiet. Sometimes after a win it’s like the club settles down for a nap as you might after a satisfying meal and of course a 7-1 win must be like a double helping of Christmas dinner followed by a gallon of ice cream. No wonder the club has had nothing to do this week but ponder the diet that will be necessary to correct such gluttony.
So in the absence of Arsenal news I’ve had to occupy my time with trifling details such as my degree and my job, and working very hard not to go down arse first on the ice rink that is the streets of Canterbury at the moment. The other day actually I got a glimpse of what working in a bookies was like before the introduction of computerised tills and let me tell you this – it was a look into a grim world of hard work and hassle, and I hate hard work and hassle with a passion unmatched throughout the known world. When a freak fault takes down every till throughout a company with 1700+ shops then you know that it was never meant to be your day.
So, whilst these concerns have been occupying my mind this week, what bits of Arsenal news have floated past to engage our attention? Of course we’ve moved into February and that means that at some point this month Thierry Henry will be returning to New York Red Bull ahead of the start of their season next month. I believe the terms of our deal with them say that he has to go back to them after the AC Milan game next week unless we want to negotiate with them to activate the option in the loan to keep him until the end of the month which would enable him to take part in another couple of games including the North London Derby with Spurs. Keeping him for the extra time will be by no means automatic even if we decide that’s what we want. Red Bull manager Hans Backe says he’s sure Henry is returning on the 17th and Red Bull are keen to have him around for their pre-season campaign. From our point of view not only has it been great to have Henry back but he’s shown that he can contribute in this team. The African Cup of Nations is coming to an end though and that means Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh will be back with Arsenal before too long so perhaps the manager might take that into consideration. Personally I’d love to see him stay the extra couple of games and let’s face it, he’d be a better option than Chamakh any day.
Gervinho had a big moment at the African Cup of Nations with his goal helping the Ivory Coast to victory and progression to the final of the tournament. So far this season Gervinho has been a great influence on our attack but his finishing has left a little to be desired. Arsene Wenger feels that the confidence from such a big goal will help Gervinho return to Arsenal full of confidence that he can up his game with regard to goal scoring. He said,
“He creates those dangerous situations but the coolness he misses a little bit. That [scoring in the semi-final] can help him to do that. I feel he proved that with us.
“Also, who doesn’t want to be a hero in his own country? That will help him to be recognised in his own country and therefore boost his confidence levels.”
Now we all know that the African Cup of Nations is an undesirable problem for clubs in the middle of their seasons but if the net result as that Gervinho comes back a better player or more confident player then that’s a plus. I’d rather he was out for several weeks building confidence then out for several weeks with a tricky hamstring. Anyway, it will be good to have him and his forehead (they have to be considered separate entities no?) back in the team.
Tomorrow we face Sunderland in the league, and after their midweek win against Middlesbrough in the cup we’ll see them again soon for the fifth round. Martin O’Neil has certainly got them back to their level and they’ll be a tough nut to crack away from home as usual. It’s a game in which we’ll have to be ruthless and put our chances away when they come up, more like the Blackburn game and less like the Bolton game. Arsene Wenger has been talking a little bit about how putting chances away can be difficult when the goals aren’t flowing, saying
“It is linked with confidence. As long as you have not scored the first goal you want to score it desperately and therefore you are a little bit less relaxed and it puts more pressure on the shot taker. You are less efficient.”
And yes, the longer you go without that first goal the more of an obstacle it seems. The Bolton game was a particularly good example because after a while it just looked like “one of those days” and when you have that attitude in mind it’s even more difficult to get the ball in the net. We may have to be patient tomorrow again, but the teams got to make sure they hang in their and keep that belief that they will get the goal in the end.
Per Mertesacker likes living in London. Hurray! Seriously though, it’s always good to have happy and settled players and I think Mertesacker is making the adjustment gradually to this league. The pace is a problem for him so he needs to work on having the sort of unnatural Sol Campbell-esque perception of where he’s going to need to be to be most effective. When you’re not the quickest on the pitch then getting the advantage on your opponent has to come from the ability to read the game better than them. That’s an area where Mertesacker has had problems in this, his first season in the league. I think he’s getting there though and I think some of the criticism that has come his way this season has been unnecessarily harsh.
Jack Wilshere says he’s gutted by the exit of Fabio Capello from the England manager’s job. Capello’s departure has predictably dominated the headlines since Wednesday night but I have to say that I don’t share Jack’s sentiment. Instead I’m rather pleased for Capello because despite what the press have said about him in their crusade to get Harry Redknapp appointed as England manager, Capello is and always has been one of the very best managers in world football and he didn’t deserve the crap flung his way from all directions.
England and Redknapp will surely soon consummate their union of cunts and what England will swiftly discover is that once again a change of manager will not solve everything. The way the press talked at times you would have thought that England’s not winning the World Cup was down to Capello not being able to get on with his players, they they didn’t like the discipline that the Italian wanted in his team and he was too inflexible to change. A criticism that you have to say is rich from a press that roundly criticised the previous two managers for indulging the egos of the England team. That’s not the reason England didn’t get near the World Cup and it’s not the reason that they won’t get anywhere near winning Euro 2012. The reason for that is that they’re not good enough and the idea that Harry Redknapp is going to change all that is frankly laughable.
And on that little chuckle I’m going to call it a day. Have a good one and I’ll be back soon.