Another tumultous week has passed, and I have just about survived it, by the skin of my teeth. Work pressure has just shot up, and I am gearing up for a grueling admission process for my higher studies. Well, Arsenal, frankly speaking, has been pretty quiet, compared to me.
There’s barely any muttering going on, apart from of course, the palpable sense of excitement, building up for the Bayern game, and the swansong of praises being showered on Sagna, and Szczesny for their heroics against Sunderland.
Of course, after such a gritty and gutsy win, there will be the usual ramblings of team spirit, and how the manager feels that the team is up for a fight. There’s also Mikel Arteta, talking up of how crucial the month will be, and Theo Walcott revealing his confidence, in Arsenal finishing in the top 4.
And yes, the month of February is extremely crucial. In fact, so is the month of March, and April and May. And, it’s about time the side takes initiative, and makes the final push in all of the competitions it is still in. The Champions League *coughs*, FA Cup *heavy coughts*, and the race for 4th spot in the league *extremely hoarse coughs*.
Starting today, with the 5th Round game against Blackburn, Arsenal will face Bayern Munich at home, Aston Villa at home (potential banana skin), Sp*rs at the Lane, Everton at home and culminating in the deciding leg against Bayern at the Allianz, in Munich.
The Gunners will require some mammoth performances in coming days, and there’s no doubt that these games will shape our season. It took that same kind of resolve last season, post the famous NLD, as Arsenal embarked on a 7 game winning streak, and banked on Sp*rs eventual capitulation, even managing to humble Milan in the process, almost recording a historic comeback.
Probably, the Sunderland game was the defining moment of our resolve. Maybe so. Hopefully, it is. Blackburn present a very different kind of challenge. One that surely, cannot be taken lightly, as we have done in the past! Blackburn have some familiar Premier League names.
Paul Robinson, Martin Olsson, Bradley Orr, Gael Givet, Leon Best, David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Danny Murphy, DIckson Etuhu and some bloke called David Bentley, the new Dennis Bergkamp. So, write them off at your own peril.
There’s a bit of transfer talk as well. Surprisingly, Arsenal fans have been dealt with another transfer saga, as star defender Andre Santos completes his high-profile move to Brazilian side Gremio, on loan till the end of the season. Yeah, that’s heart wrenching!
Let’s be honest. Santos was a good bloke to be in the dressing room, spreading positivism, or optimism, or whatever words you can think of. He was a genuinely nice guy, and at times we take it for granted. Yes, he was not good enough to play for Arsenal, but let’s be honest. You can include guys like Emmanuel Eboue and Perry Groves in the same bracket, and they are cult heroes at our club today.
Yeah, he committed the ultimate crime of accepting a jersey from the traitor, but we fans can be so unforgiving. Let’s cut him some slack, and hope he returns a slightly better defender after the completion of his loan spell.
Arsene Wenger revealed his disappointment, at not being able to snap up, now Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, from RC Lens. And, club legend Thierry Henry spoke of his eagerness to return to Arsenal, in some capacity in the future, something which the manager has not refused to rule out.
In other news, former vice-chairman David Dein has again come to the rescue of his trusted man Arsene Wenger, and his transfer policy; while the manager spoke about how he had the chance of signing both Walcott and Gareth Bale, but could only manage to sign Walcott, who he prefers over Bale.
Right, team news then. With the manager hinting at squad rotation, we could see Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey being given chances. Lukas Podolski could also be slated to start. At the back, the manager may not risk with Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen, and we could see a centre back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Ignasi Miquel. The full backs will be Bacary Sagna, and Nacho Monreal.
Blackburn do not have a host of players for the match. Adam Henley (hamstring), Josh King (hamstring), Dickson Etuhu (knee), Paul Robinson (back), Leon Best (knee), DJ Campbell (cup-tied), Josh Morris (cup-tied) and David Dunn (calf) remain sidelined for the fifth round tie.
Arsenal will look to probe Rovers with Podolski and Chamberlain manning the flanks. Rovers will have to dig deep if they need a result from this, but the quality and experience that players like Martin Olsson, Scott Dann, Danny Murphy and Morten Gamst-Pedersen bring to the Rovers’ table will be of concern for Arsenal.
Jordan Rhodes has had a great start to his Blackburn career, scoring 20 goals in 30 games, since his move from Huddersfield Town. Supporting him will be former Sheffield United and Fenerbahce winger, Turkish international Colin Kazim-Richards.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
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Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!