Coping with the Obvious
The battle of Arsenal vs. Everton looms on the horizon.
The massive encounter means everything to both clubs.
Having started their season so brightly, Everton now find themselves nine points adrift of a coveted Champions League place; Arsenal similarly have slipped from league leaders to longshots for the title.
As I predicted might be the case, Arsenal lost the plot once again away to Stoke and have fallen from second to third in the BPL. Lady Luck chose to turn a blind eye on the Gunners last week as the penalty called against them was clearly unjust. The distance the ball traveled from foot to hand offered Laurent Koscielny’s brain no time to send signal that he should flail wildly to gain some sort of advantage.
This was a case of an unintentional handball by definition.
By all standards come and gone Arsenal did not play like Champions last weekend.
The theory that Arsenal could win the title by beating the lesser-weights but lose to the top four is balderdash of the highest order.
Since the first days of February, I have been warning Arsene Wenger to focus on the FA Cup in an effort to end the barren run at the Emirates.
Let us hope that the FIFA fever does not lead Arsene Wenger to once again become inebriated with the notion to ‘rest’ players during a pivotal cup clash.
Wenger has lost his favored Jack Wilshere to a fractured foot. Mesut Ozil was pelted by the scat of boo birds as the Bundeswappers showed him no mercy. Per Mertesacker and Koscielny played a full 90 minutes and may be maladjusted, as could Thomas Rosicky who also featured for his country.
This cannot be an excuse for Wenger to start – say – Carl Jenkinson, Thomas Vermaelen, and Yaya Sonogo.
By now Wenger must have admitted to himself – like an alcoholic reluctantly coping to addiction – that his team have only one chance at a trophy.
If there was ever a time for Wenger to call on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be his sponsor this must surely be the game.
This must be the intervention.
Wenger must come to terms that Ox through the middle of the park can offer his side the best shot at a happy ending.
I’m calling for the following starting 11: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs (if fit), Bacary Sagna, Matheiu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, and Olivier Giroud.
These players and coaches at Arsenal must sober Wenger up to the reality of the importance of Saturday's cup tie and give maximum effort to keep their season off dialysis.
That will be all.