By Bulldog Drummond
We have risen dramatically up the injury table since I last reported on it…
|#||TEAM||How many down||Last man to fall||What he done|
|1||Crystal Palace||9||C Wickham||Groin Strain|
|2||West Ham United||8||J Hernandez||Illness|
|4||Everton||6||I Gueye||Hamstring Injury|
|5||Chelsea||6||D Zappacosta||Muscular Injury|
|6||Bournemouth||5||J Stanislas||Knee Injury|
|7||Manchester City||5||A Laporte||Foot|
|8||West Bromwich||5||S Field||Calf Strain|
|9||Burnley||5||J Gudmundsson||Calf Strain|
|10||Swansea City||5||S Clucas||Knee Injury|
|12||Huddersfield Town||4||E Kachunga||Ankle Injury|
|13||Brighton and Hove||4||D Stephens||Hamstring Injury|
|14||Newcastle United||4||M Diame||Knock|
|15||Stoke City||4||K Zouma||Knee Injury|
|16||Arsenal||3||D Welbeck||Back Injury|
Our three are Santi Caz of course, Cech and Danny as listed above. Given that Aubameyang can’t play that leaves us short of forwards.
But… it ain’t quite that bad because Mr Wenger said otherwise in his press conference…
“We’re in the quarter-finals and have to be very realistic. We don’t live in dreamland. We have to go step by step and give absolutely everything to go through. It’s about how well we play together, the quality of our game and how we want to play football.
“There is some extra pressure to do extremely well in this competition, but that is part of being where we are. We have to see it as an opportunity we want to take and keep our priorities right.”
And then he confirmed that both Alexander Lacazette and Peter Cech would be fit for selection for tomorrow’s game. He continued…
“Ideally you want the away leg first, but in Europe you don’t get to choose. You have to accept the problems, solve them and sort them out. No one has the ideal way. If we want to go far we have to accept playing first at home.
“Before the match both teams have a chance to win. Russian teams always have a good technical level. They have a good culture and a long history in the game. Personally I have always had difficult games against Russian teams and CSKA are a strong side. I watched the match they played in Lyon and they played extremely well and created many chances. For me this tie is 50/50.”
So, that is one vision. But through this series of articles I have been considering the views of the Calvert Journal, and this is what they have to say about Russian football.
“The Russian championship is a unique spectacle, at once intriguing and mind-numbingly dull….
“Nonetheless, the league does hold its own in terms of quality — the overall standard is about the same level as the French or Portuguese league. The main difference is the absence of ever-present big-hitters: in the Russian league, any team really can beat any other.
“The club with the most overall silverware in the cupboard is Spartak Moscow: they won nine championships in the 1990s, but are now going through an extended drought, with the 2003 Russian Cup their last trophy.
“In their wake, Gazprom-fuelled Zenit St Petersburg have emerged as high-achieving high-rollers. Nevertheless, despite the presence of Brazilian super-striker Hulk in attack, and one-time managerial wunderkind Andre Villas-Boas calling the shots, the petrochemical-powered Petersburgers have failed to take the title from CSKA, a team known for their fiscal good sense and the smarts of their coach, Leonid Slutsky — the only Russian manager not reminiscent of a hard-bitten, intellectually challenged gym teacher.”
As for the team, even if Cech is fit I’d still expect Ospina to start, with Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Wilshere doing the forward running stuff behind Lacazette.
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