So it’s another North London derby tomorrow, the first of a trio of matches against Spurs in the next month after we were predictably paired with them in the Carling Cup semi final.
Remarkably, Eboue is fit again after sustaining what looked to be a genuinely bad injury at Chelsea last weekend, so if he makes it, and Walcott shrugs off his flu, we’ll be looking at a fully fit squad for the first time in a long while.
And with the reserves so impressively beating Blackburn the other night, there is an unprecedented battle for places in the side, a terrific problem for Wenger to have.
Some have reacted better than others to that competition. Lassana Diarra was panned last weekend for indicating he wanted to leave, citing an inability to break into the side so soon after arriving. The reasons for him struggling have been abundantly clear, and they come down to one man – Flamini, who has stepped up to the plate spectacularly this season.
But Diarra was outstanding on Tuesday night, a performance which should push him beyond the struggling Gilberto in the pecking order, and may well confirm the Brazilian’s departure. It is a shame that he has had such a fall from grace, but Wenger is no stranger to brutally cutting players from his side.
Lehmann has not reacted as well, once again suggesting that Almunia is not in his class and that Wenger is being unfair is sticking with him. Much as the German has had a superb career at Arsenal, I think it’s time to call it a day – he is nothing but disruptive and cannot possibly be recalled now. Thanks Jens, but if you left in January I wouldn’t be unhappy.
Djourou will return to the defence in the New Year, which comes as no surprise with Toure playing in the African Nations. I must admit I’m a little concerned – I haven’t been overly impressed with some of his performances at Birmingham, and with Senderos struggling the loss of our rock in central defence will be a big blow. Much of our season may rest on how we cope without him.
But back to tomorrow, I’ll stick my neck out and predict a narrow victory – Spurs are looking tighter at the back but they’ve got injuries and suspensions in that department now. Van Persie is looking for his first goal against them and I reckon he might just get it.