Warning: This morning’s blog is a certified spittle and sputum free zone
The spotlight shone on Cesc this week and he found he liked it. Having returned to his first full training session ahead of a possible return in the clash with Manchester City in a couple of weeks, he launched into a zesty Liza Minnelli-inspired song and dance routine, belting out “Life is a cabaret, old chum”, before praising the recent run of form:
In recent games everyone’s attitude has changed, the players and the fans, and you can see that reflected on the pitch. All of the frustration is now turning into enthusiasm for the season – we are also in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and are fourth in the league with nine games to go and a lot of points to win. It is good that we are fighting on three fronts and that we are getting our football back on to the top level. Now we need to keep it going and improve – a great team is one that always tries to get better and better. We are on the way, and we can’t lose that.
Ahead of the Champions League draw this morning, it is indeed a fine time to return to form, particularly since a number of key players have been absent. Crucially though, the players who are in the ever-rotating squad are not the ones upon whom the season’s outcome rests. Adebayor and Cesc have themselves perhaps a more definitive role to play. They have to hit the ground running and be in sparkling form from minute one when they enter the pitch.
Fourth place has been reclaimed, as have last four and eight spots in the knockout tournaments. The returning players have to ensure that they are ready and do not need a couple of games to find their feet, enhancing the play rather than stifling. I am sure they will do the former but the pressure is on in every game from here until the end of May and they need to be sharp to maintain the progress made in recent months.
Fabregas is aware of that:
We are back in fourth place now and need to take care of what we have. We must realise that now we have got it back, we can’t lose it again easily. We know how hard we have been working for it, and now it would be a big mistake to ease off.
All he has to do is make sure that the others know it.
Theo Walcott has done just that since his return. His performances have been full of energy and brought a verve / directness that has highlighted what might have been had injuries not ravaged the squad, a benchmark if you like for others to aim for. Walcott is confident that the injured parties will make a big difference to the run-in:
Everyone is a big hitter at the club. Big names are coming back, which scares other teams and that is a nice feeling. They will be back soon and hopefully we can push for the Champions League spots and some trophies. Last year we had our bad spell towards the end of the season and hopefully we have had it in the middle this time. With players coming back and the team getting back their sharpness and getting goals from all sorts of positions, hopefully we are going to have a good spell now
No surprise that other teams will be ‘scared’. If their written English is anything like that which they speak, I doubt that many of them could even spell ‘Adebayor’ or ‘Fabregas’. Maybe that is why the Arsenal players never seem to get the recognition from their peers that they deserve?
Bizarrely though, Andrei Arshavin may have found the solution to Arsenal’s problems. Not through his excellent start to his Arsenal career, oh no. Apparently, it is because there are not enough balls at The Emirates. He may have a point and perhaps the ’Doom & Gloom’ brigade have been right all along about a lack of character in the non-English contingent:
They (Hull) benefitted from using only one (match) ball and that was pretty surprising for me. Every time the ball goes out, you have to wait for it. The attacker loses momentum because of that, letting defenders get back and close the free spaces, it slows the game down. It gives an advantage to teams who play a slower game.
Oops, my bad. Our little wing wizard was talking about the match balls. He went on:
I’m used to having balls scattered all around the pitch
Perhaps he saw the Arsenal / Wigan match before Christmas…