Good morning Cocksandwiches, are you ready for some football?
The Fabregas’ take on Dynamo Kiev today at 11:45 PST with the match being shown live on Setanta here in the states. It’s a good chance to don your Fabregas strip (mine’s an away), pour a pint, order a sandwich, and cheer on your “new look” Arsenal.
Before I get into all that stuff I need to give credit to Gunnerblog for the poster above. The poster and the attached parody article made me laugh, and with all that has been going on at the club it was a welcome relief. Check it out.
OK, now, where was I? Oh yeah, the “new look” Arsenal. Cesc rolls out in the armband for the first time to the relief of many, many supporters. The more I think about this selection the more I like it. Disregard the supposed “curse” that the last few Arsenal captains have left nearly immediately after they get the armband: Cesc has already put that rumor to bed saying:
By becoming captain it shows how much I’m committed to the club, I actually feel I’ve shown commitment since I arrived here. Each year people talk about me leaving yet I’m still here and I want to be part of the future of Arsenal. I love the club and I’m totally committed to it. I’m not looking to play anywhere else.
The real benefit of Cesc as captain is that he’ll be allowed to play a little more unrestrained. Captains get away with heavier tackles, they get to complain to the ref, and they can defend their teammates — something Cesc was not really allowed to do when Lampard attacked Kolo during the Carling Cup final a few years ago. It’s that incident that stands out as his most captain-esque moment. Irregardless the fact that he wasn’t wearing the armband, when Lampard got in Kolo’s face Cesc waded in and sorted it out. So, in addition to getting away with a little bit more foul play, he’s also the guy expected to sort out the team. Despite what Arsene says about how unimportant the armband is, that’s what the captain does on the field and I think Cesc is perfect for that.
The other thing the captain does is “other duties as needed” which is why I’d like to see Cesc become Arsenal’s temporary enforcer: just until Wenger brings in Appiah (joke!). We shouldn’t forget that Cesc was brought into the club to be the holding midfielder and what a job the kid did, too. Who could forget what he did against Patrick Vieira in the Champions League run that eventually led to a final appearance? It was masterful: a box to box midfielder who tackled the ball away from Vieira, scored the opening goal, and laid on the second. Lately, he’s been playing a very forward role, which does suit him, but as captain, I’d like to see him revert to the dirty job in defense and let Denilson go forward. Of course, some of that depends on who Arsene puts in there. If Denilson, then my idea is fine, but if Song, well… then it’s Song and frankly I don’t know what to do with Song to make the team better. The point is that Cesc needs to lead by example and right now this team needs a holding midfielder, who better to do that than the captain? At least temporarily.
For the opponent’s tonight Wenger has a bit of a headache selection with Nasri and Diaby adding to the injury list of Adebayor, Kolo, Eboue and Sagna. Plus long term injured Theo, Eduardo, and Rosicky. If you are wondering why Gallas was included in the squad, you need look no further than an injury list that is 9 folks long. How many clubs could survive with 9 injured players? It’s an amazing number.
The Beeb is reporting that Wenger will pick from Almunia, Hoyte, Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy, Ramsey, Fabregas, Denilson, Vela, Van Persie, Bendtner, Fabianski, Song, Djourou, Wilshere, Gibbs, Lansbury, and Simpson. How you line that up is beyond my powers of prognostication. I would slot Silvestre on the right and play Djourou in the middle, but that’s just me. As for the pairing with Cesc, I would certainly start one of the youngsters — Wilshere and Ramsey both? I dunno. And up front… well… I don’t think I’d play Bendtner. Which means we’ll see Lansbury start next to Cesc, Bendtner and Vela up front, Djourou in the back with Gallas out right… you get the point.
So, that’s what we have this afternoon. Despite the recent struggles, the change in captaincy, the injuries, and the fact that 9 of the 16 included for the trip are youth team members I’m hoping for a really gutsy performance tonight and a modicum of revenge for the 1-1 draw away earlier. A win here would see the club through to the knockout stages and give us a big boost to go with our long rest ahead of the St. Andrews day clash with Chelsea. Plus, what better way to see Cesc’s captaincy kick off than with a win?
Come on you reds!