Traditions of Christmas still abound in an everchanging world. Liz still spouts on, families snooze post whichever meal they have gorged on, too much alcohol and kids fighting because one of their toys does not quite function as well as they expected. And football returns on boxing day. Well, it would if the television companies had not meddled. Instead we wait until tomorrow lunchtime for a resumption of action.
Ahead of the clash with Aston Villa, Arsene has noted that armand Traore is the only player whose return is guaranteed from those who missed the fight, sorry, match with Hull City. The noteworthy absentees are minimal in being anywhere near fit, Cesc the nearest, rated as no better than 50:50. Which is a tough one to decipher because Arsene’s 50:50’s rate anywhere between 100% and no chance of playing. More team news will no doubt be forthcoming during today in the lead up to Sunday’s encounter.
According to the manager, the players trained on Christmas Day morn before tucking into their turkey or whatever takes their fancy in this diet conscious game that we live in. Arsene believes the only thing he can give at this time of year is the health of his family and that Arsenal wins their matches. Peace and goodwill to all men on Earth coming in a very poor third, no doubt.
I suspect that Arsene will not be worrying unduly about giving the FA their Christmas card next season, believing that the decision to charge Arsenal with ‘failing to control their players‘ to be a harsh one. Not too sure that he can really defend the players since an sign of a melee is going to see the clubs charged. Better that than having a single player or more facing a suspension through their actions, whilst the club will be fined. Hull are expecting to be hit with a bigger fine as they have been charged more recently than Arsenal with the same offence. It won’t happen like that, of course, since Arsenal are a big four club and therefore deemed to be immediately more guilty than their supposed peers.
Elsewhere, John Motson has decided that the 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane in The Invincibles season was the defining moment of the decade as far as the Premier League is concerned. Whilst I appreciate his rationale in that it sealed the title for a monumental Arsenal team, I am far from convinced that it is more of an achievement in a one-off scenario than the win at Old Trafford to seal the title, a match where United were dominated entirely. Indeed, there could be a strong argument that the victories over Liverpool and Leicester City in that undefeated season required more strength of character to achieve. The latter was a nerve-jangling affair with the history which beckoned provided that defeat was avoided, stress placed upon the players to a greater degree than in a normal 90 minutes.
The Liverpool match displayed even greater mental strength. Coming from behind in the match itself, immediately in the aftermath of a treble crumbling in front of the players’ eyes. The 4-2 win at Highbury was the defining moment of that season, the result which truly indicated that no slip-up in the league would be countenanced.