Well that was an interesting day. Accounts of Arsene Wenger’s press conference spread quickly on social media and whipped up yet another mini storm. Most controversy was created by his linking our failure to win the title to the poor results suffered at home against the smaller clubs “in a very poor climate”. Whilst one cannot deny the atmosphere at a number of home matches of late has been less than convivial he might have been less than well advised to hit out at his critics at this particular time.
He also mistakenly suggested we would be top of the league based on away results only which is not entirely truthful. We would be only third, which is a position in the League that most would surely take in a heartbeat a fortnight on Sunday. I get that he will not be openly critical of his players who have let him down so often this season. His loyalty to them remains impressive.
Equally I understand he cannot yet judge himself in front of the vultures who would seize on any perceived sense of doubt or weakness. I do think though that he should have been advised to stick at telling his inquisitors that “I can understand the frustration, because nobody is more frustrated than we are.” and expanding on that rather than very clumsily poking a verbal stick into the angry swarm of bees that a portion of the fanbase has become.
All of which makes tomorrow’s proposed protest the focal point of the match rather than the three points which are so badly needed if we are to secure a Champions League berth again. That is my issue with the protest as I said on this week’s A Bergkamp Wonderland podcast. I can understand entirely how frustrated so many have been this season. It has been an opportunity wasted, although to be fair if Leicester avoid defeat in their final three matches they will be deserving champions. At the start of the season who would have thought we could finish above a team that only lost three matches?
Hopefully those who do raise their A4 sheets twelve minutes from the start and end of the match will also roar their encouragement to the team on the pitch at the same time. The protest, although deliberately a little vague, is about change off the pitch, not an opportunity to dig out those on it.
All of which leads us to the match itself. For the first time since Moses was found in a papyrus basket Arsene has a full squad to choose from. The last two players to be evicted from the infirmary at Shenley, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, are back in full training and available although the boss did say they wouldn’t both get any game time. Does that suggest a welcome cameo from the Spaniard who we have missed hugely?
In his chat with Arsenal.com the boss ruled out wholesale rotation, but it would not be such a surprise for Danny Welbeck to get a start ahead of the lacking in confidence Olivier Giroud. Other than that much interest will surround who makes what should be the strongest looking bench for many a moon.
Norwich have already won at Old Trafford, drawn at Anfield, and held Arsenal and Manchester City at home this season. They arrive at the Grove fighting for their Premiership life, as were Sunderland last week of course. Only one of those two plus Newcastle will survive the drop. Captain Russell Martin could return from a virus that caused him to miss the game against Sunderland but Timm Klose remains ruled out.
The ‘holic pound
A couple of seasons ago we enjoyed a 4-1 win in a truly memorable fixture lit up by a Jack Wilshere special. Jack should be available from the bench tomorrow, and I am attracted to another three goal margin, but this time 3-0 which is priced up at a market best of 8/1.
That’s another Friday preview done then. As it is a late kick-off tomorrow there will be no report until some time on Sunday. If you are going please remember everyone in that stadium wants the same thing for Arsenal. I’ll respect your opinion and hope that you will respect mine.
Have a great one, ‘holics.