Win The Title Arsène? You Can’t Even Win A Sack Race & Seeking Per-fection
The talk of Arsène’s departure was fleeting, the Frenchman’s head shoved effortlessly aside from the high block by Andre Villas-Boas. Not that either of them are in any danger of losing their jobs. Immediately, at least. The Portuguese whippersnapper would be a horrendously expensive mistake even by Abramovich’s standards; a managerial Bogarde. As for Wenger, Stan Kroenke has been swift to let it be known that the plan is to retain his services, not dispense with them. Win the title Arsène? You can’t even win a sack race.
All this focus away from his future means that the match against Dortmund takes place in as serene an atmosphere around the club as has been possible this season. The players can walk tall, even the Igor Stepanovs lookalike, Per Mertesacker, whom Steve Howard did a favour to this morning by calling him a ‘dud’. Anything Howard believes about the club is invariably wrong but he was supportive of Arsène so that means which ever pompous prancer said that the media were more supportive of Arsène must have been right. Mustn’t he?
That is not to say the German is without flaws, something his manager has been identified,
In every second of the game you are really tested with full commitment, and it takes some time to adapt. We have seen that with [Laurent] Koscielny, who played at right-back and was exceptional. Last year he would not have delivered this kind of performance because you learn that from fighting in every game. That is why it is so difficult to buy defenders from abroad.
It is incredible how quickly judgements are reached over a player, especially one with the experience of Mertesacker. His reaction to the goal showed he knew he had dropped a ricket but he got up and got on with the game, the defence kept Norwich at bay for seventy five minutes or so to ensure that the lead, once obtained, was never lost. Koscielny is the right example to use as a comparator in that it took time to adapt but the wait has been worth it, I am sure most agree.
The most pressing thought is whether the German plays against Dortmund or not. His place can be accommodated with Koscielny playing centrally and Djourou on the right but I wonder if that is already planned for? The German Champions made use of the flanks in the home match and requires a mobile defender which for Djourou’s strengths is something of a weakness. He was positionally exposed by Chelsea. Is Jenkinson going to be used instead. His injury we were told, required rest but does that mean he can be used sparingly?
This pre-supposes Wenger is inclined to remove Mertesacker from the firing line. I am not sure that this is a necessary step. The German has the experience to deal with criticism and having played at the highest level for a number of years, the nous to know that taking notice of your critics is the fastest way out of the side. He is not an 18 year-old who needs protecting, after all.
That’s it for today, back with a preview for the Champions League in the morning. ’til Tomorrow.