Silverware or Silver Lining.
By Simon Bailey.
There has been plenty of talk about United and Chelsea having to drop points in order for us to win the title this year.
It’s fairly obvious that one-dimensional United will drop some. Rooney looks knackered and with their fixture list, will inevitably fade. The press have made large about Capello urging Ferguson not to burn him out, but I think it’s a bit late for that. Anyway, the Scot has other masters to serve and Englands World Cup run is way down his list of priorities.
Chelsea are a different matter altogether. While a lot of teams struggled without their African players in January, they positively excelled. They have six points on us, but with City, United, Liverpool and Villa to come, theoretically they could drop enough points.
Stoke away this weekend is a vital match for us, as is the Spuds away in a few weeks. We have already beaten both teams on our home ground and I am confident that a full strength team, such as it is, will be more than capable of winning both of these games.
Burnley without Coyle seem pretty toothless, as do Hull at the moment. Wolves and Wigan should present no problems, but we can guarantee that McCarthy won’t gift us the three points like they did with United.
Fulham and Blackburn in May will be nail-biters for sure, but both are winnable. Hopefully Fulham will proceed in the Europa competition, and the extra matches will take their toll.
Birmingham and City are our bogey teams this year. We convincingly beat one and were unconvincingly beaten by the other. Birmingham has enjoyed a rich vein of form lately, but City not so.
West Ham are also looking up, but following our dismal two all at their place earlier in the season, I fully expect a home win.
If we are not careful, the D&G brigade will raise the stick of an easy run in to beat us with. Even though we haven’t got to play United, Chelsea, Everton or Liverpool, this won’t be an easy run in. We have got some tricky matches, plenty of pressure, and the continuous negativity that surrounds us to deal with.
On a positive note, Rooney is looking jaded, Torres and Benayoun are fit again and the Curse of the Arsenal has hit Ashley Cole once more. Not only is he out with a broken foot, but his missus has chucked him out. The Sun (that bastion of intelligent news reporting) have even started calling him Cashley.
The better Liverpool perform can only be good for us, and any problems at United and Chelsea are also welcome, but our real strength lies in only one place; Ourselves.
It is simply down to us to win this league, and the outlook is promising. Eduardo and Gallas should be available for the weekend, and Arshavin for the following weekend. I won’t tempt fate by suggesting that we might remain new-injury free for the rest of the season, but barring the other four in the physio room, Diaby, Djourou, RVP and Gibbs, we have a decent depth of squad to choose from.
The recent return of Bendtner and Walcott will prove invaluable in the coming weeks. Theo has begun to weave his deadly runs again, and Nicks close ball control is just astounding. They were both excellent against Sunderland and will improve as the season continues. Vermaelen has shown himself to be an invaluable asset this season, and with Gallas, Eboue, Sol, Sagna and Clichy to choose from, our back four combination is awesome.
We’re not too shabby in midfield either. Cesc is the glue that holds it together, and as long as Song doesn’t get too many more yellows, or chooses carefully when he gets them, their inclusion along with Ramsay, Rosicky and Denilson make up a midfield that none of our future opponents can dream to match.
Despite the lack of Van Persie, our forwards are another group of great players. It has been said many times this season that we don’t have enough going forward, but with Nick and Theo back and Arshavin due back soon, Nasri and Vela will be able to slot in to adjust to any opponents.
Much has been made of our goalkeeper situation, but I reckon it’s all smoke without fire. Barring the silly mistakes, Almunia and Fabianski have made some great saves lately. As long as the outside backs track back along with the forwards when the opponents break, then either of our keepers will be able to keep clean sheets.
So that’s it. It’s up to us. It’s nice to see the teams ahead of us drop points, but only our team strength and belief will win us the title this year.
I believe that we have what it takes to finally make the D&G brigade eat their humble pie, but even if this is another year without a trophy, I will be content in the knowledge that I watched my team play 50 or so matches of some of the best football entertainment that this planet has to offer.
That is surely the silver lining in the no trophy-cloud.
UNTOLD RUMOURS of a financial nature
Fab Cap, “the money man” or “Mr Swiss tax” as he is known, will issue a “stark warning about personal conduct” when his squad meets next time around.
No sex, no divorces, no speeding tickets.
Tax matters are however, totally personal, and have nothing to do with the job in hand.
“No one is indispensable,” he said, “except me. If I have tax issues, that is up to me, and not the affair of football. If Ashley Cole struts his stuffeta across his bathroom, that is a matter for me.”
Jérôme Valcke, the secretary general of Fifa, told a press conference that England’s location in South Africa will be ready on time and extra mirrors are being added in case Mr Cole appears.
“There is a welcome desk where you can pay, a breakfast area where you can eat. There was a television and internet in the room, although someone nicked it, but we can get another. We have been told the medical centre will be built. And a practice pitch. With goals.
“The mere fact that this country is now celebrating the 100th anniversary of the South Africa Act in the UK, in which they finally wrestled independence from Britain, after your country introduced concentration camps and mass murder into the land in a pitiful attempt to retain the mining rights, but were ultimately defeated by a bunch of Dutch farmers will not affect how South Africa lays out its hospitality.
AND MEANWHILE ON THE SECOND MOON OF PLUTO…
EPL owes more money than the rest of Euro football combined.
Should the top clubs from smaller countries move into Euro Leagues?
Vote now for the biggest prat in English football. The polls are still open.
Arsenal win the league: the start of the new golden era.
The England captain we signed from Kettering Town.
Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?
Arsenal in 1910 – the first edition of this book has almost sold out. We will be publishing a second edition shortly, but if you want one of the First Edition copies, you should order now. It is Arsenal in 1910, the complete story as a novel.
I do hope you are feeling happy today. The snow has gone in the East Mids.
- Arsenal v Leicester footnote: bad runs and past games
- Arsenal v Leicester; the injuries, the team, recent games, ludicrous predictions
- Arsenal v Leicester: comparing the form, and the goalscorers
- Arsenal v Leicester: how will the ref handle Leicester’s multiple tackling?
- What sort of referee is Darren England? The statistics reveal some odd facts.