Yesterday’s date allowed me to escape having to write about that awful performance on Saturday, which in any case was thoroughly covered elsewhere, by Arseblog and Gunnerblog amongst others, so read those if you want a full recap.
Suffice to say that conceding four with your first choice back four looking flimsy, and the players in front of them giving the ball away carelessly and needlessly time and again, is not good enough. At least Wenger recognised it and ditched the usual ‘the potential is there and we have a good spirit’ rhetoric in favour of giving the players a much needed kick up the backside.
But one thing stuck out for me on Saturday – the selection of Julio Baptista. Everything pointed to a 4-5-1, it was a big game, probably the biggest one left in the season given what we’re fighting for, it was away from home, and a draw would’ve been fine. It was made for Rosicky and Hleb/Ljungberg to be the wide men, and three of Cesc, Flamini, Diaby and Denilson in the middle, with Ade up top.
But it didn’t happen. Rosicky, back from injury, was left on the bench, and Baptista kept his place despite his appalling form. Now, if Wenger has already decided to jettison the Brazilian at the end of the season, would he really play him now he no longer has to? I don’t think so.
It’s been something that has puzzled me for a while and I think I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that Wenger has every intention of signing Julio Baptista on a permanent basis, despite the performances he’s been putting in. Perhaps he is so convinced of the big man’s talent from his days in Seville that he isn’t seeing what’s happening on the pitch, but this is how it is looking now.
Why else would he have played at Anfield? Wenger had the chance to drop him, and didn’t take it. Now I don’t think he will.
Call me mad, but Baptista will be at the Emirates next season. You heard it here first.