With the weekend’s Premiership action ended, things at the top of the table remains almost status quo. Along with us; Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle all achieved similar 1-1 draws. The only benefactors in that section of the table are Chelsea and Tottenham who both won their respective fixtures.
It’s going to be a long season, not least because Spurs seemed to be putting up a strong fight. Perhaps not for the league title but their results have made it hard for us to close the gap on them. We trail City by 12 points but there’s a gap of 7 points between us and Aston Villa below us.
To get into the Champions League position is getting harder and harder year on year. Used to be only us and United who were the confirmed participants with Chelsea and Liverpool fighting out the other available spot. In recent seasons, City and Spurs have gate crashed the party. Goes without saying that every team is vying to get into the competition because of the money it generates.
We’re not talking about earning money as a profit here. With the FFP coming into play, where a club can only spend money that they generate, staying in the CL is utterly important. Money that is needed not only for transfer use but also in providing competitive wage to our players. In this regards, we are already behind what others are offering. What the top dogs is paying in La Liga is also beyond what we’re able to match.
Moving up in the league and maintaining our challenge in the CL should be the club’s priorities this season. Yes, I’m sick and tired of listening to the same “it’s been 6 years since Arsenal last won a trophy” quote as you are. But football’s landscape is changing (not entirely sure for the better or worse). It would be lovely to get that particular monkey off our back but success in domestic cup competitions will not be enough to pay the player’s wages.
This adding to Arsene Wenger’s latest comments that several of his players are in the “red”. That if of course referring to the physical conditions of his players. Red being the zone where the players are more susceptible to incurring injuries than they normally would. It’s a scientific manner in which the players are monitored and then assessed based on their match performance and training data.
Those players that fall into that category are Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. I have no access to those numbers but I’m guessing that the likes of Mikel Arteta, Alex Song and Andre Santos must also be close to that dangerous zone, having played continuous games and usually without being substituted off.
The injuries to Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs has put paid to Wenger’s hopes of rotating them previously. This does not mean it’s like for like replacement missing, just that having these players around would’ve afforded more rotation being done all over the pitch. Effectively, Wenger is already consistently playing those whom he might not even consider to be his first XI at the start of the season (even with the departures and arrivals).
Which puts tomorrow’s clash with City all the more important. What line-up would he select and will there be any surviving members from those who drew with Fulham? It’s not like we’re going up against a mediocre side. Even City’s reserves are a match for any bottom side in the Premier League. Should Wenger put out a weakened side, there’s no guarantee of our continue participation in the Carling Cup.
The selection for tomorrow should explains Arsenal and Wenger’s expectation in this competition. The return of Abou Diaby should go some way to ease Wenger’s predicament. Add Yossi Benayoun, Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin to the mix and we have a decent midfield at our disposal.
Personally I wouldn’t mind for-going the Carling Cup. We put ourselves in a spot by going for all competitions last season despite the shortage of capable personnels. It’s not the same as saying that a club like Arsenal should not be going all out at every single competition that we participate in. It’s more about doing the maximum within the limitations that we have.