Good afternoon, good afternoon, good afternoon.
Before I get into the news for today’s game I should like to say a little something about the Farcical Assembly that we call the FA.
As English football fans we regularly bemoan that lack of intuition, guile and consistency that UEFA displays on a weekly basis. Yet the problems in our own back yard are evidently as sanguinary considering the decisions announced yesterday regarding Ashley Young’s dive and Mario Balotelli’s GBH on Alex Song.
It isn’t simply a case of the FA allowing cheaters and potential MMA fighters like Young and Balotelli to get away with reprehensible actions, the most frightening aspect is that they do this with all evidence available.
Not only was Young offside (mistake one) but he threw himself to the floor on insufficient contact winning a penalty (mistake two) and Shaun Derry was sent off (mistake three).
Two of these mistakes cannot be remedied in any way until we have video technology (which may take an exorbitant amount of time as UEFA are only discussing goal line technology at the moment), but Derry’s red card should have been rescinded at the first opportunity as it resulted from a shoddy linesmen, blatant cheating and even shoddier refereeing, but the FA refuses to do this even though they have seen numerous replays.
With regards to Balotelli, the reason they refuse to engage in retrospective punishment is because they claim the incident was seen by one of the officials, and that retrospective punishment is reserved for those occasions on which none of the officials saw anything untoward (Song’s stamp on Barton for example).
They claim that they are prevented from doing this by FIFA’s laws, which causes to me to wonder…where do these FIFA laws come from? Are they sent from on high, carved onto stone tablets and considered the unalterable word of some higher power? No, of course they aren’t, they are rules laid down by us, for us, which are outdated and in need of an overhaul for the good of the game, the clubs which represent it, and the health and safety of the players which represent them.
Don’t forget that this is the same FA which appealed Rooney’s red card for kicking a Montenegro player during an England match, and they have now condoned the suspension of QPR’s regular captain and leader while the club fight for Premier League survival in spite of the evidence, and have condoned what everyone has seen in Balotelli’s horrific challenge on Song, potentially allowing Balotelli to help fire Man City towards the summit of Premier League.
It’s a scandal and a mockery of the values we hold as a nation with regards to football, and its being perpetuated by our own governing body no less. Shame on them while they do this.
I’m glad to have got that off my chest, now back to sunnier climes of Arsenal Football Club who we can always rely on to hold some quantity of dignity and class in an otherwise classless arena.
The win on Sunday was a result of technical superiority combined with a higher work rate and desire to win.
Arteta took the game by the scruff of the neck and refused to allow our profligacy to affect the result we so desperately craved.
This evening we are hosted by a Wolves side that currently sit rock bottom of the table; yet their work rate and desire to win cannot be bigger than ours or we shall allow QPR “take two” to occur.
We will be technically better than they are, of that there’s little doubt, but we must maintain our refusal to not win which is manifested through effort and commitment to the cause.
Whereas in recent weeks we have been blessed with a relatively stable squad, this week we come against some unplanned hurdles in the form of Kieran Gibbs needing a rest after straining groins and Laurent Koscielny being suspended after picking up his 10th yellow card.
Of course if Koscielny has just got a second yellow against City he would have only been banned for 1 match, rather than the 2 he is currently (Farcical Assembly strikes again?).
Therefore one can expect Andre Santos and Johan Djourou to step in as like for like replacements, and I’m sure as always they’ll bring with them doubt and scepticism from supporters.
Personally I think the entire “Santos can’t defend” rigmarole is unfounded; he came from an inferior league and he is Brazilian, meaning he likes to get forward and wasn’t used to the higher technical abilities of the opponents he faced when he first joined.
I am convinced that he is a better left back than Gibbs; I think Wenger sees it this way as well, and think it is only his fitness which is preventing him from starting every game.
Admittedly he is not the quickest player in the squad, but since when was speed everything anyway? Is Walcott our best player?
I think the line up will read:
Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Santos, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Chamberlain, Walcott, Van Persie.
If we look at the games that Benayoun has played, he is being selected in the fixtures where Arsene expects us to have to defend regularly and wants to us have an extra body in midfield.
It wouldn’t surprise me therefore if Chamberlain started, as I think we will have the beating of Wolves in the middle of the park and we shall be expecting the lion’s share of possession. As Gervinho is out of action I think it is just a tossup between Yossi and Oxlade, and I think he might go for Oxlade.
There have been whispers that Sagna may not be involved tonight, but unless this is absolutely necessary through injury I can’t see him not playing. Making three changes to a currently solid back four would be too disruptive I fear. Consistency is what has spurred us on this run, and we need to maintain that.
Thanks for reading, check back for player ratings/match reports etc.
(halls_dja on twitter for news and views).