You would swear by some of the emails I’ve received that Arsenal were on their way to the relegation zone (Tottenhamville). I’ve never once enjoyed that age-old past time of “Spot the Silver Lining, If You Can”.
Let’s spread some December joy instead with the news that Robin van Persie (remember him?) is set to commence full training beginning of next week. Arsene Wenger confirms on Arsenal.com that both van Persie and Abou Diaby will be back in first-team training by Monday, but asks for patience from the fans. Wenger says:
“We have to see how he [Van Persie] responds to contact training. Don’t forget he has been out for seven or eight weeks and has had no contact until now so we might have to be a little bit patient.”
Flamini is rated as the first to return out of the remaining absentees, but certainly not by the ‘Boro game. It would be very telling to be a fly on the wall in the Arsenal physio halls: Is Wenger covering up the injury extents to reveal all three of Cesc, Flamini and Hleb for the Chelsea match? I previously thought that Clichy and Hleb were nowhere near fit enough to play against Villa a week ago, but there they were, giving excellent performances for the team.
Then Hleb got injured again, of course. With Sam Allardyce going on about how Arsenal are a bunch of divers now that his job is somewhat secure, the club has chosen to focus on other aspects of the match instead, with Gilberto reiterating that the result was ‘a point gained‘, not two lost. The midfielder says:
“It would be great if you could win all the games but it is not like that, it is not that simple. They played a good game at home with the crowd behind them, shouting all the time. I think in general we had a good game and came back with a good point.“
A bit diplomatic to say we had a ‘good game’, especially from Gilberto, who was distinctly anonymous in large parts of the match. Gilberto, however, has said he will continue to fight for his place in this side – and I would not hold that against him at all. Sure, his performances have been hit and miss at times, but his service to the club over the years, added to his excellent covering as a makeshift centreback (his best performances have come in that position this season), will mean that I will always have time for the Brazilian captain.
With a full shift to centreback, Kolo Toure has praised the spirit in the side, saying it is this quality that gives them a chance of lifting the trophy at season’s end. He has, importantly, dismissed the notion that this team is the ‘New Invincibles’, emphasizing that they are mostly new players, working towards what needs to be done within their own abilities. Kolo Toure says:
“Everybody was certain that we wouldn’t be top of the league, but I think we’ve proved a few people wrong. It’s good to be like that. Sometimes when people think a lot of you, then you can struggle to live up to that. But we just focus on our game and try to get as many points as we can.”
Last and certainly least, Olivier Khan is imploring Jens Lehmann to quit Arsenal for the sake of his international chances; Claudio Pizzaro of Chelsea-fame goes on about how Chelsea will catch up to Arsenal, and Alex Ferguson – knowing full well that he would sign Cesc for millions if ever offered the slightest sniff – has decided to goad Goonerdom by saying ‘Anderson is better than Cesc’. Calls into question how good Sir Alex’s Cesc-life is at all, eh?
Eh? Eh? Ah, never mind. More news tomorrow, should it come my way. Until then, Adios.