After a weekend away, it is time for a quick glance around at the last few days, tonight’s match in Romania, and the new tune from our potential new Uzbek leader (I hate those words).
Before Saturday’s match with West Ham, I wrote:
A draw wouldn’t surprise me, although at the back of my mind I am aware that a rested Van Persie is ready to win us matches again.
I really should learn to trust my optimism, with Van Persie coming back from his two week rest to score an early winner from Hleb’s excellent cross. With the Belarussian standing the ball up instead of crossing low or pulling the ball back, and with RVP’s accurate header, it was a very un-Arsenal goal, another sign of the willingness to play beyond the delightful football and from time to time get the ball in the net however you can. A very good sign.
Hleb’s game didn’t last much longer, having his standing leg scissored in an ugly challenge by Mark Noble. The intent wasn’t clear, but it was a dangerous challenge and a potential leg breaker, so the card should’ve been red rather than the lenient yellow he was given.
That isn’t to say we had the rough end of the refereeing decisions though – Ljungberg had a goal disallowed for offside when at worst he looked level – but overall the win was merited, with only Green (who is turning into Shay Given II with the displays he comes out with against us) and the woodwork keeping the score down. With Man Utd somehow winning another match 1-0 after playing poorly, and Liverpool taking the points at Wigan by the same scoreline, it was an important victory.
So the big losers from the weekend are again Chelsea, drawing at home to Fulham and finishing with ten men after Drogba’s sending off. The only one of the big four to be at home, they are conspiring to throw points away, and are now goalless in four matches. Meanwhile, Spurs scored four more, but even that wasn’t enough as they conceded as many at home to Villa. Seeing them celebrate their comeback from 4-1 down so wildly made it all the more amusing that they were tipped to do so well this season. As a reminder, yes they are still in the drop zone.
On to tonight, and the team news is varied – all the forwards are carrying knocks, so the partnership isn’t clear, while Hleb is a serious doubt. To be honest, I’m surprised he travelled after that challenge – resting up should surely be the order of the day. Perhaps Wenger plans not to play him against Sunderland.
Steaua are a team with troubles of their own. Without a permanent manager after Hagi walked out, they lost their opening Champions League match to Slavia Prague and the chairman has already announced that their interim manager will be fired if they lose tonight. There’s a thankless job if ever I heard of one.
In reality, winning home games and drawing away games is perfectly fine, so once again I won’t be gutted to see the points shared, but with the team chasing their ninth successive win, there is a lot to be said for momentum. Let’s see.
The most worrying news of the day is the apparent change of tune by Alisher Usmanov. Having indicated that he is investing, not looking to control the club, he has now seemingly let slip his plans for the future:
“We don’t have the capacity today, but this is business and life is changing,” he said. “Something that you can’t do today, maybe you can do tomorrow.”
Worrying words, if you ask me – with his PR offensive on maximum, you can be sure that he is choosing his words very carefully. Not ruling out a takeover is tantamount to announcing to the world that it is your plan. With Dein in tow, there was never any doubt – the orange one has such clear desires to be Arsenal chairman that he wouldn’t be on this ride if it were headed any other way. After all, he no longer has any shares – what good would Usmanov’s ‘investment’ do him?
This story is far from over. What is most important, however, is the football, which kicks off in under an hour. It is time to focus on that.