Most of us know already, but elaborating further why yesterday’s loss to Sevilla was not important would give it even more limelight than it already needs.
All we have to do now is look to what lies ahead of the team, putting the result behind us. Arsene Wenger has said that he intentionally sent out a much-rotated team so as to keep the first team fresh for a difficult December. Wenger says:
“For me, an unbeaten record in the Champions League is not important. What is important is to qualify and we’ve got the Premier League, too.We’ve got a lot of big games coming up and we’ve got a big December. We have to make some difficult choices and, for me, December is based on the championship.“
Which is exactly right. The focus this month is all on the Premier League, with the last remaining European match being a home game to lowly Steaua. Apart from a Quarter Final against Blackburn in the Carling Cup, this month coming is all about maintaining a title-push in the face of stern opposition.
Fittingly, we’ll round off all the Champions League news to get it out of the way. The only real repercussion from the Sevilla-match worth worrying about is how long any touchline ban of Wenger’s will extend to, after he was sent from the touchline by the Fourth official. Wenger was remarking on playacting by Dani Alves, which did not go down well with the official (“You can’t handle the truth!”). Wenger explains:
“I said to the referee that… Alves had gone down too badly then he came back onto the pitch and two minutes later he was sprinting. Therefore I got sent off. He could not give me any other reason.“
How long will the ban stand for after appeal? Even if Wenger means what he says about not being able to access the stands, the committee will not look favourably on that. Will he miss any legs in the Round of 16? Now that is something to worry about. Cellphones will be out.
Finally with the Champions League (“go away, please!”), Cesc Fabregas says coming second in the group does not matter, as Arsenal are ‘ready for anyone‘. The young midfielder says:
“I don’t care if we finish second in the group and have to play the big sides in the next round. If we want to be the best, we have to beat everybody.“
Though I don’t buy the “we came first last year and lost to PSV later”-line being spouted around the blogosphere, I can buy Liverpool’s example of last year: Liverpool topped their group while Barcelona came second to Chelsea. The two were drawn together, and Liverpool were able to do what was necessary to nullify and pass that test in the Second Round. If they can, we can. Not that we’ll be playing Barcelona necessarily, but the point remains – players like Fabregas have a youthful gumption that exudes a self-belief to compare with the best. And that is a very good thing.
Sticking with Fabregas, his fitness is a cause for debate. On the one hand, the midfielder himself says his substitution was a precaution after he felt a tweak in his hamstring, and that he should be ready for Villa. Other news sources, however, are not so positive, saying Fabregas could miss the next three games (all away) against Villa, Newcastle and Middlesbrough. Not all moonshine and roses at this point.
Finally, Emmanuel Adebayor has sympathised with Jens Lehmann’s goalkeeping predicament, but says he can do nothing more than be patient. The oh-so-stylish beanpole striker had this to say:
“According to the manager, we cannot change Almunia at the moment so Jens should try to be more patient. We have played many games with Manuel between the posts and we are still unbeaten. He is playing very well so he cannot change.“
It’s easy to sympathise with Jens’ plight, so long as he refrains from saying the stupid, callous things he has been saying about Almunia to the press. In a final round-up of non-news: Tottenham are allegedly chasing ‘Arsenal target‘ Luca Toni – which has as much credence as U.S intelligence on WMDs in Iraq, and the official site has done an opinion piece on our run of twenty-eight games unbeaten. Interesting reading for the games played last season, seeing as they’re less familiar than the present.
All for now. Be jolly, one and all.