You couldn’t make it up.
The Football Association yesterday rejected Arsenal’s appeal against Laurent Koscielny red card. While the judgement has yet to be published, I can exclusively∗ reveal that the FA didn’t believe it was Kieran Gibbs who made the attempted tackle.
It was a close run thing; the panel was split 2 votes to 1. Arsenal await the full judgement before admitting that Koscielny’s tackle was crap and dropped us in the cart.
With his compatriot missing, Arsène must reshuffle his defence. Reports yesterday suggested Shkodran Mustafi suffered a concussion against Sunderland and his place in the cup final XI is under threat.
The Arsenal Way is the hard way.
Gabriel is out, possibly missing the start of next season. It’s a hell of a way to stop the club selling you during the summer.
It will be a huge surprise if Mustafi isn’t fit which makes the choice Per Mertesacker or Nacho Montreal for the third centre back spot. There’s a fairly flimsy case to be made for Mertesacker’s inclusion. He wasn’t used at all when we were short of central defenders and there’s no real reason to include him now beyond a calming influence. Rob Holding might appreciate his experience, for example.
But when he’s being skinned by Diego Costa or Eden Hazard, the BFG will induce panic in the rest of the defence. For that reason alone, a place on the bench ought to be all he can expect.
Hec of a Problem to Solve
Koscielny’ s absence may give Hector Bellerin his place in the side. An already reshuffled defence could hardly benefit from another change. While the Spaniard’s form perked up recently, there is a strong case for Ox’s inclusion. However, with two of the centre backs missing, another change seems unwise.
Once the final is over, the club must face its demons. Brian Granville waded in with another critical piece on Wenger, articulating a widely held view with his usual vocabulary expanding style.
John Cross claims Arsène blames the club for the mess which suits both sides of the argument about his future. Jim White claims Usmanov is ‘meeting his advisors’ to discuss his bid. Using the Enigma machine given to his people by KSE, the Uzbek decrypted the Kroenke statement on shares not being for sale and now knows how much Stan wants to sell, including the ‘Cold War premium’.
The level of the problems Arsenal face in the summer was shown when Antoine Griezmann rejected out of hand, a move to the Emirates. Speaking to L’Equipe, he said:
“I’ve reached a point where playing nice football and scoring goals isn’t enough. Winning titles, that’s what I’m looking for”
Its going to be a familiar theme we will face this summer. Accepting a top four finish as the limit of our ambitions is more of a problem than the fifth place finish. It’s a brutal assertion from an elite player at the level many crave us to sign.
Reports link us with the top scorer in Belgium while Alexis’ agent is reportedly meeting Bayern to work out a deal ahead of forcing Arsenal to sell. Well, that’s what the papers say and they would never lie, would they?
That’s it for today as ordinary life demands my attention.
∗ By “exclusively”, I mean I might have made that bit up.