So this is Grand Slam Sunday, as Sky get their dream afternoon while the BBC count their measly Saturday night Match of the Day viewing figures.
The main focus of the build up has been on the players missing from both sides. I can’t be alone in being delighted by the absence of Drogba and Essien, the two major thorns in our side from the last couple of seasons, and although Carvalho is a doubt, I imagine he’ll make it back for this one.
On our side, it seems any of Van Persie, Flamini, Fabregas and Hleb could comfortably play an hour, but struggle to make it through the full ninety. As a result, I’d be very surprised to see all four start, with Hleb perhaps the one to make an impact from the bench. Cesc is the other possibility, while I’d definitely expect Flamini and RVP to start.
Of course today may well mark the return of the delightful Ashley Cole, with Wenger towing the official line by calling for calm from the fans:
“I want our fans to be behind our team and not to especially have resentment with Ashley Cole because he has done well for the club as long as he has been here.”
I particularly love the use of the word ‘especially’ in this sentence, as if it is fine to have resentment with the whole Chelsea team but not Cole in particular. But Wenger clearly knows what will happen, as he alludes to:
“Ideally, you want everybody who has played for you to be respected.”
Ideally, yes. But in an ideal world players that play for you don’t turn into greedy, lying, egotistical, arrogant, selfish characters who embody absolutely everything that is wrong with a lot of English footballers, where so many believe they deserve special treatment over and above everyone else. So, yes, ideally this situation wouldn’t arise. But we don’t live in that world.
I have to agree with Wenger’s final words though:
“Overall we want him to get a fair reception.”
And a fair reception he will receive. Only in this case fair is abuse like you’ve never heard before. What price Sagna avoiding a booking for 70 minutes, and then taking an opportunity to send Cole up in the air? Immediately followed by Clichy setting up the winner?
The match itself comes at an interesting time, with neither side playing particularly well. We say this is a good time to play Chelsea, they say its a good time to play us. Make no mistake, this will be a tough tough game, and I’m sure Chelsea would take a draw, so prepare yourself for a team sitting back and trying to hit us on the break. An early goal would be the perfect way to set this one up.
Come on you reds.