As fans of a team that plays some amazing football, we are used to our players being kicked on the pitch and picking up all kinds of injuries. But the surprise I got today was of the worst kind. I was looking forward to watching Fabregas in action against Birmingham but Arsene has all but ruled it out.
Speaking to ATVO in his usual pre-match interview Le Boss said,
Cesc is very, very short and unlikely to be involved [on Saturday]. He has a little chance for Tuesday.
I just don’t understand what happened here. We knew he was a little short for the visit to Stamford Bridge. Subsequently, we read his tweet saying he was fit. This is what Cesc tweeted on Oct 5th,
I’m fit and training with the team. If the game was today I could have played, but it was 2 days too short and didn’t want to take a gamble.
El Capitan’s more recent tweets have all been about his holiday in Capri. I didn’t see any talk of an injury there. All this makes the news of that he’s very, very short all the more baffling.
With Cesc and RvP missing, and Walcott unlikely to be risked from the start, the home game against Birmingham will probably be a much bigger test than it would otherwise have been.
I would have considered the possibility that Arsene thinks Cesc isn’t mentally ready, especially after his recent comments about the winning mentality. But given the way Fabregas has performed when he has been on the pitch, it would be extremely unfair to question his commitment to the cause.
Speaking about his recent comments, I think some will view them as thumbs up to their belief that Arsenal don’t have a winning mentality. But it is worth noting that, in the same sentence, Fabregas also said that we have a wealth of quality and we should start winning. To me that means he thinks we have what it takes to win but just lack the winning habit which comes from getting the titles.
No one can deny that winning any form of silverware will provide a big boost to everyone including the players. But these comments should not be seen as an acknowledgement that half the squad is useless or that the manager doesn’t have a winning mentality because he doesn’t make the right substitutions!
Moving on, Alex Mcleish has started the mind games before the visit to the Emirates. We can be certain Birmingham are going to play an ugly, physical game with some rash and reckless challenges. Their manager is hoping the ref will turn a blind eye to their violence.
There is a fine line for referees. The British refs tend to kind of let the play flow. They allow the hard, robust challenges.
I would hate to think that Arsene’s comments would influence a referee in the English game.
We have Martin Atkinson this weekend who was on duty as part of the officials team at the World Cup final and he’s a top referee.
I am sure he will give a strong performance and you have to be strong at somewhere like the Emirates.
We are the small team going to play the mighty Arsenal and you hope that the referee’s fair. Martin Atkinson and the British referees all come into that category
It sounds like, “We are a small team going to kick the might Arsenal and you hope the ref knows I’m British but Wenger is not”. The Scot builds on Fat Sam’s comments and is setting the ref up with some clever points of his own,
Well Sam (Allardyce) said he thought that was a clever tactic, to influence referees.
But as I said, I think the refs are above all that. They should be above all that. They have to be strong.
We don’t want big crowds influencing the referee when there’s a challenge or something like that.
That shouldn’t go against us, especially when you have referees of a top calibre like Atkinson.
Those are astonishingly patronising comments towards the refs but the sad reality is that they seem to do the trick. I don’t blame the officials because theirs is a thankless job. No matter what they do someone or the other is going to criticize their performance.
In this particular case, I hope Atkinson doesn’t have his recent altercation with Arsene at the back of his mind. We could do with a half decent refereeing performance against a side like Birmingham. I haven’t forgotten the kick to Fabregas’ leg that eventually cracked against Farca.