By Bulldog Drummond.
This is one of those games where the journalists hedge their bets, saying simultaneously that Arsenal can’t lose and a shock could be “on the cards”. (Isn’t it funny how journalists have their own little turns of phrase? Does anyone say “on the cards” any more, other than journalists?)
Anyway, there is much talking up of Charlie Austin (a £4m signing from Burnley) as a goalscorer so the press reckon he’s bound to knock in a few against the worst defence in the league. This is because he’s the top-scoring Englishman in the Premier League and has scored nine goals in his last eight league games.
On the other hand all of Austin’s goals were scored in Shepherd’s Bush, (a small principality to the west of civilisation) and over half the teams in the Premier League have a worst defensive record than Arsenal’s, but between them have only a fraction of the number of defenders injured we have.
So here we go…
Debuchy, Mert, Monreal, Gibbs
The Ox, Cazorla
Welbeck, Giroud, Sánchez
Now there are two possibilities of alternatives with this team. Sánchez could be given a rest and Podolski play with either Sánchez or Theo coming on for the last half hour. And Flamini could continue instead of Coquelin.
I still don’t know what Mr Wenger thinks of Coquelin – he could have been sold in the summer, but came back, went out on loan, and was pulled back as cover. What’s more all the way through his Arsenal career since 2008, Mr Wenger has shown a keen interest in him, and even the poor year he had with Freiburg doesn’t seem to have destroyed his chances with us.
Now when people dismiss Arsenal’s defensive cover, Francis Coquelin is never once mentioned, but I still think there is a very good player there. And it is easy to forget he has played for Arsenal 22 times. He has played for France’s under 21s seven times, and started and completed all seven games in the 2011 Under 20 world cup in Columbia which means he can’t be utterly useless. So I’ll go with the general Untold feeling that he really is part of the squad, and not someone who is going to be ditched – at least not this season.
Chambers is said to be in need of a break, so I think he will be on the beach today.
Freezing to death then we have a mix of Ospina, Martínez, Hayden, Chambers, Flamini, Rosicky, Podolski, Campbell, Walcott, Sanogo, Bellerín
Arry the Red has claimed that he has so many injured players that he can’t actually name them all – or that if he did the journalists would all be off home before he finished the list.
It is a clever ploy reprinted in almost all the papers. Clever because as far as I can work it out the injured list is Faurlín, Sandro, Taraabt, and Yun with Zamora as a doubt. That is four play one.
Our list is
Injured: Arteta, Koscielny, Özil, Ramsey, Wilshere which is a straight five. Plus
Doubts: Bellerín, Ospina, Rosicky, Sanogo, Walcott (five)
So QPR 4+1. Arsenal 5 + 5. We win.
But of course it is Arry what gets the publicity, because Arry is a Character (not the capital C) and is Loved by the Boys from the Papers.
Oh yes. Cor stone the crows, luv a duck, makes you fink, this is it, and other meaningless phrases rarely if ever heard outside of an East Enders studio.
Some reports have Tomas Rosicky and David Ooooooospina available, but the other doubts are Real Doubts.
QPR’s form record shows a sort of WLWLW sequence, (yes three wins in the last five), but all the wins are at home and all the defeats are away, and add to that we don’t lose on Boxing Day (at least not much) and have won the last seven such games at home, (although I can remember having matches postponed because of tube strikes and the like), so its Arsenal all the way.
I mean, QPR did beat us at home 1-3 in the 90s. That was the one that is celebrated in the Anniversary Files on the Arsenal History Site.
31 December 1994: John Jensen scores – Arsenal 1 QPR 3
But despite all the gloom and doom and gloom and doom and [yes we get the picture – Tony] we have only lost one of the last seven games, and only one of 17 Boxing Day Premier League games. Hard to remember such things among the goom and dloom and oom and [I’m wanring you – Tony]
And here’s some more stats.
QPR always concede the first goal (well, nearly always) and Mathieu Debuchy is the 20th Frenchman to score a goal for Arsenal in the Premier League.
And another, if we win today it will be win number 400 for Wenger.
And Santi Cazorla has scored three and had two assists in the last five league games. Which is particularly interesting because a little while back his shots seemed to be more likely to end up travelling in the wrong direction. It shows the value of allowing a player to play himself back into form, rather than just dropping him, as the moan and groan and moan and… would have liked.
Anyway, we’ve got the winter tyres on the Merc and we’re all off for a glass of the red stuff, and a little bit of fun for the late afternoon in the snow (or so the forecasters say).
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