It seems that not being assured publicly that he will walk straight back into the first team has brought the competitive side of Jens Lehmann to the fore. Did I say competitive? Perhaps bitchy might be a better phrase. The comments though need to be treated with some caution, their original intent perhaps being lost in the translation. Anyone who was expecting humility and the offer of dressing in sackcloth and ashes is barking up the wrong tree. Whilst he may believe that there is no-one of equal stature in the race for goalkeeping position – he’s right, there isn’t – it is his recent form opened the door for Manuel Almunia to takeover and current form is all selection should ever be based on.
The Spaniard has done little wrong in the three games he has been between the sticks. Whilst at times he has been unorthodox in his saves, the fact is that he has only conceded one goal in three games. It does not matter who the opposition were in those games; the objective is to prevent them scoring which he has done. It would be extremely harsh to drop him simply because of Lehmann’s return to fitness. There have been doubts due to Lehmann have two Jack Douglas moments in his opening two games of the season. Whilst he those are the only goals that he has conceded in his Arsenal matches so far in 2007-08, one of them proved costly and the opening day against Fulham could well have been more straightforward had we not been chasing the game for most of the ninety minutes. It is up to the German to convince Arsene that he is the best at the Club; whether he will do so before the weekend is another matter. Much of that will rest upon what other changes he is forced to make for the Spurs game. Already a new centre half is needed and probably the central midfield will have a swap around.
Thankfully William Gallas did not play for France on Saturday; his non-appearance in that international was good news from one perspective, as it meant that he could not pick up another knock or strain in the match. Given the propensity for Domenech to be beligerent and chose players even if they are not totally fit, it was a real surprise. Perhaps Venus was not properly in conjunction with Uranus? It raises the prospect though that he may not be fully fit for the Tottenham game although as that is a week away, it is too soon for that call to be made. However, Diarra’s apparent form at Right Back offers Arsene another way out if Gallas does not pass any fitness tests. If he can earn a Man of the Match rating from some of the media, then there is no reason why he should not be able to slot into the full back position on Saturday, allowing Sagna to move across to the centre, his apparent versatility was one of the reasons that Wenger signed him in the summer.
It seems unlikely that Gilberto Silva will participate on Saturday. Brazil’s match kicks off at midnight (BST) on Wednesday making Friday the likeliest day of his return to the UK. Previous international weeks have seen the player rested and it would be strange for him to be used in a Saturday lunchtime kick off. Flamini will presumably continue his role as his deputy.
A long way to go yet before those decisions have to be made and another round of internationals in which the best laid plans of mice and men can get well and truly screwed up.