It’s always interesting when you find something new out about Arsenal. Granted it’s not up there with when we wore the iconic red and white shirt for the first time, but it’s still new nonetheless.
And what is this nugget, I hear you ask? The club runs its’ annual leave policy on a financial year basis. We know that because Mesut Özil is pulling another sickie. Did he get his fiancée to phone in sick or did he put his best sick voice on? You know, the one where you sound like you spent the night drinking malt vinegar and tabasco sauce. He must be careful though. He’ll find it a shock to go onto SSP from his salary level.
Not that his absence matters this evening. No disrespect to Östersunds, but they shouldn’t beat us even if they even with the help of the swords of a thousand men.
Arsène made it clear he’s fielding a side to win the tie, meaning a smattering of youth and ineligible seniors. Surprisingly, Dave is in goal. He will be busy on Sunday so Wenger is keen to sharpen him up ahead of the final.
Mkhitaryan, ineligible for Wembley, plays and Danny Welbeck leads the line. Beyond that, guess away. Calum Chambers accompanied the manager at yesterday’s presser so he’s in for Hector Bellerin, I’d guess.
Welbeck was the subject of Wenger’s pontifications and it’s true that he’s been extraordinarily unlucky with injuries. Not as bad as Diaby or Rosicky, but in the Ramsey and Wilshere scale. A panic buy when Olivier Giroud broke his toe at Goodison Park, Welbeck craved a central striker role. We gave him it and he was found wanting; he’s not ruthless enough, despite scoring some vital goals (at the time).
Like Aaron Ramsey, he rejected Arsenal’s initial contract offer. Unless significant progress is made between now and June, his will be one of the names heading through the Colney door marked ‘do one’. To the chagrin of some, there’s a strong case for Ramsey’s retention. Indeed, letting him go would be a mistake in my view.
I can’t say the same about Welbz. He’s the new Theo Walcott, destined to see his England career vanish as he sits on the Emirates benches, week in, week out. He ought to go to Russia this summer though; Daniel Sturridge is proving more injury-prone than he.
However, beyond fleeting appearances when injuries demand, it’s hard to see him making any impression at Arsenal outside of the cup teams. Arsène talks well about him, but I could insert any players name here and it would be the same story. I could also have ended the sentence after “well” and it would be true.
Yet you only have to look at the squad to understand Welbeck’s problems. £110m-worth of strikers are ahead of him centrally with Eddie breathing down his neck. There’s precious little space on the flanks as well; he’s struggling to get a look in.
It may sound harsh and I do have a lot of sympathy for him. He joined the wrong club to fall injury-prone at; Welbz went into the black hole of the treatment room, visiting the real world as frequently as Haley’s Comet. On a day when more pills should be popped according to the medical profession, it’s trite to use his salary as a compensating factor in being injured and the mental toll that sustained absences from the pitch take on a player.
Hector Bellerin mentioned mental illness at his Oxford Union talk and football has much work to do in that field. Looking after players who are frequently injured or out for a sustained spell is part of the problem, as well as the myriad issues which affect players just as they do in ‘normal’ life.
But Welbz is back, regaining confidence and belief although you sense with players that this is a facade, built on the shakiest of foundations so easily are they lost. A goal or two would go a long way to restoring him to his former glories and tonight is the perfect opportunity to do so.
I think he faces the same problem as last week though: we’ll play within ourselves. That makes the prospects of him scoring tonight slim. There’s no need to take any risks on our part; let them attack and then hit them on the break. It could go one of two ways: an annihilation on our part or as dull as dishwater. I’m going with the latter, since you ask.
Ospina; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Mkhitaryan, Willock, Nelson; Welbeck
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.