Watching Arsenal is apparently the best thing since sliced bread. Or not slicing the bread, a legal action which strikes me as so ridiculous on many levels, that it is unmissable. You would have thought that the catering in the boxes would have been a lot better given the amounts of money involved…
A return to the good old days, of sniping from other managers swiped away by some urbane wit from Arsène. That is what used to happen before Arsenal were not considered a title threat. This week saw Chelsea pricked by the failure of their north London rivals to cede leadership of the Premier League. Eden Hazard thinks that come January that will have happened. His manager is not so cocksure.
At the time, Mourinho was contemptuous of Arsenal’s 5 – 4 victory at White Hart Lane, proclaiming it a hockey score and nothing anyone in football should be proud of. Was he, I wonder, convinced by his own side’s credentials following their win at The Stadium Of Light earlier this week? He certainly isn’t noted for his attention to detail – the hallmark of his first reign at Chelsea – and perhaps that reflects in the slack-jawed defending his side is currently serving up. Perhaps he just isn’t convinced and feels the need to boost his own confidence. Whatever the case, his inference that Arsenal have had consecutive home games is wrong. I know Cardiff felt like home in the early part of this century. It was a distraction this morning, nothing out of the ordinary beyond the first sign that the Portugeezer is beginning to take Arsenal at the top, seriously. Someone ought to whisper that in Alan Shearer’s ear.
Yes, a bits and pieces morning ahead of the visit of Everton to The Emirates this weekend. Moyes version of the club eschewed the The School of Science moniker, frequently preferring a more pragmatic approach to football which involved a bricklaying apprenticeship for his players when they visited Arsenal. Roberto Martinez, if their recent away form is anything to go by, has inflected an attacking aspect to that solidity as Manchester United found out to their cost; Everton were not content to sit back and soak up the pressure and as much as Mancunians may like to bemoan their ill-fortune, the visitors also struck the woodwork.
For Mikel Arteta, I am sure the match carries an extra meaning from the norm. He was certainly bullish post-Hull,
The difference is that we are top of the league, while normally by now we are 10 to 12 points behind whoever is first. That is the big difference. Obviously the confidence and atmosphere is different and we want to maintain that. As long as you have that quality, the ambition and the togetherness that we have, I think we are in a good position to do it. That is where we are and I think the Christmas period now is going to be massively important.
There are a lot of fixtures once the nine-day gap between City and Chelsea is over, rotation is a theme Arteta returns to later in the interview and at this time of year, it is important. That situation is beginning to ease with Arsène reporting that Lukas Podolski is ready to return to training, albeit a couple of weeks away from the first team. It would be no surprise, however, if he makes the bench against Manchester City but the timescales indicate a worst-case scenario of Chelsea. Popular opinion seems to be that the German will be Olivier Giroud’s replacement which begs the question of Nicklas Bendtner’s future. Will the manager release the Dane at the earliest opportunity or retain his services until the summer? If wage demands can be satisfied, there seem to be a number of Premier League clubs interested in his services but will they meet his notions of stature? Compromise may be necessary on his part, the maxim of taking a step back to take two forward may well be true.
After the Hull game, he was rightly bouyant and pleased. His perception that it is easy to drop in and out of the side is interesting, especially as he tends to be starting when wholesale changes have been made. He did well when he came on against Norwich when the side was back in control of the game, it was no different on Wednesday night with the quick goal settling the players into a rhythm. The opening twenty minutes or so was as good as the team have played all season in my view and Bendtner contributed to that. It doesn’t alter the long-term future, nor opinions overall but he deserves the credit he is being given. Steve Bruce noted that if he amended his attitude, Bendtner would have a good career. Perhaps he has done so?
Tradition reared its head yesterday with the honouring of Peter Hill-Wood, recognition of his service to the club. Having for so long sat alone in the Marble Halls, Herbert has now got company as Hill-Wood’s bust was revealed. Yes, I know, you have the same Sid James cackle running through your head. Unless of course you don’t know who Sid James was in which case by now you are either scratching your head or searching the interweb for enlightenment. Meanwhile, Stan Kroenke took his thumb out of Alisher Usmanov’s nose for long enough to appoint his son Josh to the board. Junior graduated from the University of Missouri. It brings to mind Grandma’s observation from The Outlaw Josey Wales, “Never heard of nice things from Missouri coming West“. Perhaps Junior will prove that wrong as he has come East. Meanwhile, calculators furiously computed that the average age of the board is now below the age at which state pensions are paid. George Osborn took a giant step toward helping the Arsenal board achieve that aim with his autumn statement; who says that Arsenal aren’t The Establishment club…