I knew there was a time when the old footballing joke would come in useful. I’d insert a witty quip about Arsène and old footballing joke’s at this point but I’d better not; we’ll get swamped by people telling us to be more passionate about the club and such like.
BATE tonight; I say that to remind myself who we’re playing such is the meaninglessness of the fixture. One thing worse than watching the match is previewing it. In itself, that’s a step up from reviewing it and no Isaac, that’s not a cue for you to get your mum to phone you in sick for tomorrow morning.
Arsenal claimed 50,000 tickets were sold for tonight; No-one believes that many will attend. Anything above 40,000 is a result for the club. This is the curse of group stage football and it isn’t a Europa League thing, crowds at the Champions League matches were similarly impacted.
So to this evening. Jack Wilshere starts, so too Theo Walcott. In fact, Arsène isn’t going to flood the team with youth, he made that much clear:
Not too much, because I have many players available who need competition. Next week we go into a week with three games and so some players need competition, some experienced players. We’ll play quite an experienced team tomorrow.
One man not included is Shkodran Mustafi who found a “little thigh injury” after much looking. He is set to miss Southampton, before returning with his own brand of brain fart at West Ham.
That suggests Rob Holding will miss this evening and travel with the first team at the weekend. Maybe Arsène will give him this evening as match practice ahead of what will be a tricky match on Sunday. Mo Elneny to fill alongside Debuchy and Mertesacker, if not.
Kiss My Arsenal
In fact, there need not be much speculation over the team:
Ospina; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Holding; Chambers, Elneny, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Walcott, Giroud, Welbeck
That’s an XI good enough to win. Mind you, it was an XI which ought to have been good enough to win in Cologne but fell woefully short. Maybe Theo’s inclusion is the catalyst. We shall see.
One thing we do learn is that there is no ‘punishment demotion’ for Saturday’s defeat. Who would you choose? Mustafi’s arse is saved by the Mysterious Thigh Injury; Elneny is the most likely to be promoted for Xhaka whose defensive work was poor against United.
Theo isn’t going anywhere in January, according to Arsène – not even into the first team, boom, tish – so he’s working back to fitness, getting sharp, and back into contention. The assembled hacks heard as ‘detention’ and pontificated over whether the discipline regime at Arsenal was really up to scratch.
Jack Wilshere meanwhile, has been told that if he took the kids ice skating, that’s fine. If he pirouetted and shouted, “Look at me! I’m the new Robin Cousins!”, that’s a problem. Ask your parents, kids.
Anyway, Arsène wasn’t impressed but I hope that’s more to do with the numbing questions being asked than anything else. There is something logical in questioning why glass ankles is using ice skates but you have to give him some credit for common sense. Going on a day out with the kids to the ice rink isn’t a problem and I bet most other denizens were awestruck to see Whacko Jacko on the ice.
Next in the press hitlist is Petr Cech and his place as chief tray basher in his Pogues tribute band:
Adieu, Farewell, So Long
Right, it’s mid-afternoon and this has been typed at a speed of around a word an hour so I’ll bid you a fond farewell.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. Isaac will be here tomorrow with the review.