Wenger Uncharacteristically Axes Lehmann for Almunia

There’s quite a bit of news to get through, so lets just pile on through as the hours here tick on by – I is tired. I is thirsty. I is up too late and I is needing to go to bed soon. I is yawning.

News ahead of the AC Milan clash in a day’s time is ghost-fearing Manuel Almunia is set to replace Jens Lehmann yet again this season between the sticks. In a totally uncharacteristic move of Wenger’s, the German will be succeeded by the Spanish goalie despite not playing that badly in his handful of matches.

Wenger has often insisted that a stand-in goalie will remain on the line until his form dwindles or he gets injured – the latter certainly applied to Almunia recently, but neither concerned Lehmann while he enjoyed time in goal for Arsenal, only to find himself replaced by Almunia. While I’m all for Almunia and the excellent season he has had, I do not think Lehmann can be faulted for too much of late. Nevertheless, so long as Almunia justifies his inclusion (which I am confident he will), there wont be too many complaints from the Gooners.

What will be needed is a telling performance from Arsenal, after the shenanigans against Manchester United, especially given how underrated Milan (surprisingly) are. Their squad is very balanced, although somewhat aged, and Arsene Wenger acknowledges that the Italian club are the favourites. In an Arsenal.com extravaganza, the manager spoke both on his putting the FA Cup aside in his mind, as well as the ‘tempo-setting’ Matthieu Flamini, saying:

Flamini has a similar style to Gattuso because of his size and the fact he’s always up for it. Mathieu is mentally strong and is a winner. Players who never give up mentally always improve. He’s responsible for the tempo in our game and he’s key to that on Wednesday.

His improvements this season as a player have been well documented, and Wenger is spot on in identifying him as our key player and the source of our biggest chance of winning. If anyone can dislodge Adebayor and Fabregas as candidates (or popular candidates) for player of the season, it is Flattusso. Should William Gallas even dream of that honour, he’d do best to cut out on his Nani-kicking antics, which nearly cost him a retrospective suspension – only, they didn’t. Champions’ luck?

A bit of opinion is doing the rounds on the circuits as well, with Cesc Fabregas dreaming of Samuel Eto’o one day joining his Arsenal. The Catalan midfielder says:

Eto’o is a phenomenal striker, he’s ambitious, he runs, he works for the team, he scores well and he’s a real winner. I would love to have him on my team.

So would I. Fabregas probably plays a lot of FIFA or PES. More important opinions surround the upcoming AC Milan Fixture, and both Fabio Capello and Gilardino have given their tuppence worth – Capello being particularly praising of our side while Gilardino rates his own team. Again, Milan should never, ever be underrated in this competition.

Finally, there’s a collection of Champions League odds doing the rounds over here, which make for interesting reading. I’ve put them in order for you here, for easier reading, though the in-depth analysis is in the article. As follows:

  1. Barcelona: 3-1
  2. Manchester United: 5-1
  3. Chelsea: 13-2
  4. Real Madrid: 9-1
  5. Inter Milan: 10-1
  6. Arsenal: 10-1
  7. AC Milan: 12-1
  8. Sevilla: 14-1
  9. Liverpool: 16-1
  10. Lyon: 25-1
  11. Roma: 28-1
  12. Porto: 33-1
  13. Schalke: 66-1
  14. Fenerbache: 100-1
  15. Olympiacos: 125-1
  16. Celtic: 150-1

Interesting odds, and Barcelona are certainly too high. Manchester United and Chelsea’s odds are correctly weighed up, while Inter, ourselves and AC Milan always have a chance. Liverpool will be interesting to watch – given the pressures they are under – while Sevilla may have more legs than Lyon, though I do not see neither winning it. Schalke will bore most to tears, while Fenerbache remain most peoples’ favourite underdog.

And with that, I’m off to that bed I promised myself. Match preview tomorrow – rest easy.



Filed under Arsenal, Blogging, Champions League

9 responses to “Wenger Uncharacteristically Axes Lehmann for Almunia

  1. Jammathon, when I saw the table, I realized there is a clear correlation with the richest clubs table from last week –

    1 Barcelona: 3-1
    2 Manchester United: 5-1
    3 Chelsea: 13-2
    4 Real Madrid: 9-1
    5 Inter Milan: 10-1
    6 Arsenal: 10-1

    1 Real Madrid £236.2m
    2 Manchester United £212.1m
    3 Barcelona £195.3m
    4 Chelsea £190.5m
    5 Arsenal £177.6m

    All 5 top richest clubs are in the top 6 in terms of odds.

    Anyone who says there’s more to football than money these days, how do you explain that?

  2. (artist formerly known as)eboue's hand

    10-1 could well be worth a bet at the moment, as those odds will shorten considerably if we get a convincing win over Milan tomorrow, or possibly even any sort of a win. And you can never completely rule out any Italian club so I’m surprised to see Roma at 28-1. And if Inter make it past Liverpool (as they should do) then they’ll take some stopping too.

    Interesting point Q has made above me, I’m inclined to think that it has a lot to do with bookies always tipping the biggest clubs at this stage of the season. If the Champions “League” really was a league then the winner would definitely come from that group of six but as its a cup competition you really can’t be sure. Look at Porto winning it a few years ago and Liverpool winning it whilst in the middle of a shite domestic season in which they finished fifth.

  3. Sue

    Get it right stupid arse Almunia is still injured…thats the reason Lehmann is playing….

  4. Great blog.

    My Predicted team for tomorrow:


  5. casicky

    um glad wenger realises Flattuso sets our tempo and i hope he will keep this in mind when Song is back coz he deserves to be ahead of Gilberto no question.i dislike Eboue even before the manUre debacle i jus hope he finally starts to put his head down and show the fans what Wenger sees in him becoz my goodness um at wits end coz of him.

    i cant wait to see Eddie i bet his going to relish this,he worked his socks off against manUre his really impressed me

  6. Jon

    Q, a truly earth shattering discovery. The 5 richest clubs, being the 5 hotly tipped clubs to win!

    Fancy that!

    Jammathon, I appreciate you may not have supported the Gooners that long, so you may not be aware that Arsene has always maintained consistency with number ones.

    Let me point you in the direction of a young Austrian called Alex Manninger. He was on fire the season of the 97-98 double and was dropped when Seaman returned from injury.

    So I would suggest a headline change, and if you thought Lehmann’s kicking was good at Old Trafford I would suggest you watch the game again.

  7. jammathon

    Only 14 years of supporting the Arsenal, no less.

    Manninger is a fair point, though I am talking of the Wenger of the past six or seven seasons. Stuart Taylor, Rami Shaaban and Manuel Almunia have all had extended runs in the side with reasonable form, either to be cut down by injury or poor form, in which the general custodian (Seaman and Lehmann, and now a promoted Almunia) have returned. Wenger has often said that a keeper needs a run of games, and that he cannot axe a keeper on a name alone.

    That said, Almunia has been confirmed ‘not fit enough’ anyway, so Lehmann lives on for another day or two.

  8. Daniboy

    We’ve done half of our half, time for to do the same!!!

    I’ll be watching, and cheering you on….ish

  9. J.Sanderson

    [b] Fuck Off Sue, if you actually bothered to read up instead of just reading a few lines and then jumping to conclusions you would know, Wenger said Lehmann would only be “covering” for Almunia whilst he is injured, and Jammathon is just making the point that is it unlike previous years, Wenger will return to his Number 1, instead of playing the inform guy.

    All The Best,



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