Look, we saw it was a foul, so let’s get that over and done with. Your blood pressure isn’t going to stand it if you continue to pick the bones over Alonso’s elbows. That’s after Hector Bellerin has finished picking them out of the side of his head.
Football Association guidelines recommend a fourteen-day break from, but as per usual, there’s a get-out which leaves the decision in the hands of the club doctor. The speculation that he may return for the Hull game seems to be based on his social media account as well.
Arsène is in a quandary over his right backs in these circumstances. Gabriel’s initial decent performances waned with Watford and Chelsea exposing the Brazilian.
I thought we put ourselves at greater risk of a battering on Saturday by using a square peg in a round hole. Instead of using Gabriel in a 4-2-3-1, we should have used 3 centre-backs. Away from home 3-5-2 or 5-4-1; Arsène didn’t, my assumption is that we don’t use that in training and can’t adjust to an untried formation during a game.
Thierry Henry says Wenger doesn’t need to leave but questioned whether he could change his way of thinking. We know it is bankrupt in a football sense; the absence of a challenge for the title when in good positions underlines that. It can work in the cup, particularly when we’re able to play on the counter-attack. In the Premier League, we’re too easily stifled.
We need Bellerin in Munich
Bellerin places pressure on the manager. All hell will break loose if we don’t take three points against Hull. The last thing Arsène needs is more pressure ahead of the trip to Munich. That game concerns me. Our last visit there resulted in a pathetic capitulation; the lack of heart, once an early equaliser was chalked off, doesn’t fill me with confidence that we’ll still be in the tie come the second leg.
However, Bellerin’s fitness is more important for that match than Hull; Gabriel can cope with the Premier League strugglers, even if they are on a decent run of results.
Henry’s observation resonates with many people because we know Arsène won’t change his way of thinking, not fundamentally. That prospect is not realistic at all; he believes in a way of playing football and isn’t going to change that for popularity’s sake. That being so, change at the top is necessary to progress.
His problem is that the next three away games define our season. Most expect us to exit the Champions League – with good reason – while the trip to Anfield may have great bearing on the shape of the top four. Given we have so far accumulated five points from a possible fifteen against top six sides, it’s no surprise we’re not given much chance in that game. There’s plenty of football between now and then so I’m not even thinking about that game yet.
Sutton is different. I can’t conceive of a situation where we will lose that game. The side which played at Southampton ought to win that game and will. In The Heil this morning, Martin Keown and Chris Sutton ‘banter’ about the tie.
The nonsense about basic facilities isn’t an issue. Getting used to the pitch is and Arsenal will no doubt be looking to replicate it either at Colney or finding facilities with a similar pitch to use in training. Thoroughness ought not to be an issue, especially with the game the Monday night cup-tie on TV.
Players are not immune from the speculation
Both Keown and Sutton agreed that defeat in Surrey signals the end of Wenger’s reign. I wonder if the players speculate the same; even in their bubbles, they can’t ignore the conversations.
None of them should be contemplating defeat; it’s not acceptable but guarding against arrogance is. We’ll get an insight into the manager’s thinking when the side is known. With a ten-day gap to Liverpool, there’s no reason not to field his best XI, but in the same way he is overly loyal to his staff, there’s no reason to think he won’t be loyal to the players who got us this far in the competition.
We’ll know whether that choice is right at the final whistle.
A reminder that we’re at 1990 in Times of Lives with 1991 chomping at the bit to land on Thursday afternoon.