Another weekend is upon us, this means- in the absence of international football and stupid managers of national football teams- that it is nearly Arsenal time again. And a chance for the Gunners to put away the disappointment of the Donbass and put some pressure on Chelsea at the top of the table. It was only a few weeks ago that we were seven points behind the Chelsea juggernaut, but a win at home to Newcastle would reduce the gap to two points, with Chelsea taking the field at Anfield just after we finish on Sunday.
I say "win at home to Newcastle" as if it's a given and really, it should be. But we know that nothing can be taken for granted in this league, the 4-0 hammering dished out at St James Park last week will have no bearing on proceedings this weekend. Was it two years ago we beat Wigan 3-0 in the Carling Cup only a couple of weeks before struggling to a 1-0 win in the league? I'm probably stating the obvious so I won't go on about it. But what mention of Wigan and the Carling Cup reminds me of is the predicament I mentioned earlier in the week- look away now, Andrew- and The National gig possibly coinciding with the Carling Cup fixture. Well, I now know that we can remove "possibly" from the previous sentence. So, if anyone can recommend a good pub in Brixton, the more nutters the better, to watch some football before the gig, then please let me know. Otherwise I'm at the mercy of the V+ Box.
The good news, as we go into the weekend is that Arsène Wenger has told Bert van Maarwijk that he can have Robin van Persie, but only when his body is ready to be dedicated to medical science. No, no he hasn't. He should have though. I don't know what game we are playing when a club pays a player's wages and then the country get first refusal. I'm still really cross that van Persie, finally back in full training, with Thomas Vermaelen just days away from returning to training, has told van Maarwijk he is ready for Holland. I can see the logic of him getting a game in, but surely that game should be for us, not the national side in some friendly. Anyway, before that rant I was saying something about good news, wasn't I? Yes, the good news is that we have not just Cesc, not just Denilson, not just Andrei but also Alex Dmitri Song Bilong all back and available for Sunday's match. I say good news, that's brilliant news, especially with the likes of Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and alan Smith likely to desecrating our hallowed turf. Unfortunately, the news on Abou Diaby, crocked since Michael Essien's unpunished tackle on the back of an equally unpunished Paul Robinson amputation attempt, is less brilliant. Speaking in today's press conference Arsène said,
"You look at Diaby since he got this tackle, he has never come back to a normal level.
"He was never himself and today we have worries for him. We don't know how long he will be out.
"He has seen two surgeons already and at the moment we have to be patient to see if he can get away with it"
As I said the other day, I'm really starting to fear for Diaby and his Arsenal career. He is a player of undoubted talent, but he seems to a magnet for bad tackles, injury prone and further prone to a ridiculous number of Clichyesque brain freezes. The fact that Arsenal don't seem to know what's wrong with him is even more worrying, I think.
One player whose Arsenal career was written off by, um, pretty much everyone in the summer is Lukasz Fabianski. But, boy, is he beginning to win people back. We said after the Partizan Belgrade game that it was an encouraging start, but he would need a few more performances before he was going to start earning trust. Well, that was eight games ago and he has been near faultless since then. But he's not getting carried way, looking to work hard and play well. Speaking to Arse.com the goalkeeper said,
"Even when there was a difficult time for me I was always focused on my job or I was always working hard, that is the only way I think you can achieve something.
"Of course I have been through a difficult period but that's life, that's football. You have to just keep working hard and hopefully it will pay off.
"I always say my only thing is to keep working hard, to try to play as best as I can and try to help the team."
You can't argue with that. You have to think, too, that with Fabianski impressing, Chesney pushing him hard it may well be all over for the never quite good enough Manuel Almunia. In amongst all the news of the recovered and the still injured, I see no mention of Almunia- is there a reason for that?
Okay, the weekend is almost upon us, which means a night out in Shoreditch with some Arsenal-Mania forumites tomorrow night and then the game on Sunday. If I don't speak to you tomorrow, enjoy the game, I have no doubt I'll be tweeting from the Grove. And I apologise in advance for Monday's blog which is sure to be full of tales of drunken debauchery. There will be football in there too, but don't say you haven't been warned!
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"Of course I have been through a difficult period but that's life, that's football. You have to just keep working hard and hopefully it will pay off." Lukasz Fabianski
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