A lot has been said about today’s meeting with Birmingham being the first since that fateful day Eduardo had his leg shattered by Martin Taylor. Some say we owe them a hammering, which is true from the point of view that we threw away three points after playing against ten men for 87 minutes, but less so for the ‘tackle’ itself. That Taylor flew into such an awful challenge is no fault of those who will be on display today.
With both players missing today – Eduardo through injury, and Taylor a combination of injury and poor form – animosity should be thin on the ground. In fact, perversely, the events of last year may actually benefit us, as Birmingham may have to stray away from the usual visiting tactic of roughing us up, else they risk widespread condemnation. For once, Wenger may be able to trust that the opposition focus on the football.
The team news is interesting – Almunia is fit and in the squad, but only on the bench after his extended ‘chest infection’, which now seems likely to have been a simple break to get himself back on track after a poor start to the season. Mannone keeps his place, Gibbs comes in for Clichy, Eboue for Sagna, and Walcott starts ahead of Arshavin, who will be the impact substitute if required.
As I write this, Chelsea are minutes away from losing to Villa, and with Liverpool missing Gerrard and Torres against Sunderland today, we have a great chance to improve our position even further.
Enjoy the game, wherever you are.