Archive for December 26th, 2006

Nice of Watford to have us for Boxing Day

73 comments December 26th, 2006

You can’t help but feel it would be slightly rude of us to turn up and beat them, but I’m afraid that we really need the points. I’m sure we could give them a £10 WH Smith’s voucher to make it up to them, or something.

Apparently we tried to give them Alex Song for Christmas, but left the receipt in the wrapping. He’s already been returned.

With the fixtures more tightly packed than my stomach, it wouldn’t surprise me if we gave a few players a rest today, with Arsene conceding there will be “one or two changes”. Those most likely to come in would be Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, and Julio Baptista. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the midfield rested, but after their scintilating play on Saturday you’d expect the front two to remain intact.

One player who will start is Jens Lehmann, though he may not start next season here at Arsenal. With Arsene undoubtedly searching for a long-term replacement for the German, and the possibility of a move to sunny Spain or home to Germany on the cards, it wouldn’t surprise me if he took up a longer contract elsewhere.

Thierry Henry wants to become an Arsenal legend. To be honest, he could retire now and that status would be assured. He is the top goalscorer, and arguably greatest player, in our history. However, a difficult few months, battling against injuries and a tactical system unsuitable to his style of play (as well as the retirement of Dennis Bergkamp), have slightly diminished the great man’s standing among Arsenal fans. Last night, I watched a programme on Sky One, which ran through the top 50 foreigners ever to play in this country. Henry came in at Number 1. It was a timely reminder of the ability and achievements of a player who up until this season I would’ve unquestionably said was the best in the world. If he comes back fit, fresh, and motivated, then we might see the return of the man we all know and love.

One player who is certainly no legend, but is proving increasingly popular, is Emmanuel Adebayor. In Henry’s absence, he has filled the gap in his own impressive style. Arsene says:

“At the start he looked inhibited, especially at the Emirates. He is sensitive and sensed when people were on his back. That’s why I used him more away from home at the start. But he has lost that complex and today people who were on his back now love him. He struggled a bit with his confidence because he had a very difficult experience in Monaco where he was rejected and didn’t play.

Maybe he struggled because he was impressed by Thierry’s presence around him. Thierry loves to play with Adebayor but when you are 20 or 21 and you don’t play for Monaco, suddenly you are hit by such pressure. The World Cup helped him and this season he has become stronger.”

It does seem that Le Boss has got it right again, and you cannot argue with an outlay in the region of £7m last January. Although Adebayor’s goals have been vital, it is his energy and enthusiasm that has made him such a hit with the Arsenal faithful:

“He has won the fans over because he fights. I’d seen him play a few times and I saw something interesting in him. I took a gamble because at the time we needed somebody physical. These things are difficult to find in Europe. Physically, I can’t remember the last player like that at Arsenal. Maybe John Hartson or Ian Wright. Adebayor is an extrovert, a happy boy and that’s good. There are similarities with Wright.

He believes in himself. These guys who come from Africa have been educated in an independent way. They moved early to France from Africa at 16. He has learned to cope with difficult situations.”

He’ll face tougher tasks than Watford, but every game counts, and like I said: we need the points. Come on Arsenal.

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