Absentees mount up as Derby beckons

News focuses mostly on injuries the day before the North London Derby at White Harte Lane. Jens Lehmannremains out of favour within the squad, as rumours abound that he has been sounding out other clubs to join come the January transfer window, in Germany. Now, as much as Jens is the most lovable goalkeeper since, like, ever man, he really only has himself to blame with those two ghastly errors in two matches, one of which we could have won rather undeservedly. I would prefer him to be fighting for his place with the ego bruised, as this historically is the best version of Lehmann. Instead, he’s looking for the exit door to another club, with the German team on his mind first and foremost, instead of Arsenal. That’s assuming the rumours are true – but given what he said about Almunia in the press several days ago, there’s a bit of fire causing all the smoke.

William Gallas, on the other hand, is confirmed as ‘out’ for the match, having not recovered from his injury in time. It leaves a slight poser in defensive selection – Clichy and Toure are definites, with Gilberto the other nominee for central defence, what with Senderos suspended. Consider, however, that Gilberto only arrives back in London today, the day before the derby. The situation sees the manifestation of a very worrying quote from Wenger, who says:

The centre half position? Gilberto is available I hope because he has played in that position recently. Then we will see. After that I have Alex Song who has played in this position and Justin Hoyte too.

Hoyte or Alex Song, eh? For some reason, I’m far from worried with either of them at the moment. That might change after a night’s sleep tonight.

One person who can play centre back but will more than likely be deployed on the right is Bacary Sagna, who has recovered sufficiently from his back troubles from the Man City game. The pain apparently is still lingering, but he should be ‘okay’ to play.

Martin Jol is relishing the Derby, as is natural, I guess – and while he generally has had his typical Spurs-ish moments of idiocy, he was of the objectively-fair variety when he started out in the job a few years ago, if you recall, and that’s somewhat evident in this Sky Sports article. Arsenal.com also has an excellent matchups-section for the Derby. All nice, spic and chic, too.
And that’s all there’s time for today. A proper preview tomorrow just before the match. Keep praying fervently to your personal deities in the meantime.

Ciao.

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