Pride, Progress and Podolski

Good morning. After the exertions and excitement of our near-comeback against AC Milan we’re now presented with something of a wait for our next game as we don’t face Newcastle until Monday night. In some ways this can be viewed as a good thing because whatever else the Milan game, it was a huge physical exertion for the players and the extra day or two to recover has to be welcome. I don’t see any sign of concrete news of Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who both left the field with injury problems on Tuesday night but hopefully it was nothing serious and they’ll be back in contention soon.

The sense of pride that came from the way we played against Milan and went about a near-impossible task continues to flow. One of our very best performers on the night, Tomas Rosicky has been speaking of the positives that came from that performance, saying,

“I am proud of my team-mates because what we produced today was great football, but it’s sad because obviously we are out of the competition, we can go out with our heads held high but we blew it in Milan.

“We knew [that we would be making history if we came back] and that’s what the boss told us in the pre-match speech. Who wouldn’t want to be part of something special? So of course we were up for it and I think you could see that. So it’s a shame.

At the final whistle Rosicky looked positively gutted, it was clear that he and others had really believed they could do something incredible on the night, but whilst we might have gone out of the Champions League we’ve also shown what we’re made of, and in this run-in of fixtures in the league we’re going to need to do that again and again. Tuesday’s game might not have seen us through but it can still have a big impact on the rest of this season.

The way things started for us this season, I was always going to be satisfied if we could hold on to our status as Champions League qualifiers. It is perhaps, not what we’re used to as an aspiration but realistically this season was always going to he hard and whilst it could still end badly for us, there is some light visible for us at the end of the tunnel now. We can qualify for the Champions League and we could overtake Spurs in the league and attain automatic group phase qualification in the process.

Wojciech Szczesny has amusingly talked about how we might even qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Spurs rather than Chelsea. Spurs now go into a tough game at Everton on the back of two bad results, and their custom of crumbling like a well dunked hobnob at this stage of the season could easily see them drop more points and allow us to get even closer to catching them. They must be hearing the theme tune to Jaws ever clearer in their minds as they look at the league table these days.

Moving on and it excitingly seems that the club might have learned its lessons from the transfer fiascos of last summer as Arsenal are widely reported to be closing in on the signature of Lukasz Podolski from FC Koln. Arseblog News reports that we’re believed to have agreed a fee of approximately £11 million with the German club, which is not bad business at all for a player with a very respectable scoring record indeed. Crucially, he’s a versatile forward who could easily fit alongside Robin Van Persie in our current formation, rather than as backup on the bench.

I don’t see Podolski being a replacement for Van Persie, purchased to account for the captain’s possible departure either. I think the club is not only seeking to ensure that we get important transfer business done quickly this summer, but also to demonstrate to Van Persie as perhaps we failed to do with Cesc Fabregas that we have the ambition to make sure that they’ve got other top class players alongside them (in fact there’s no perhaps about that, we did fail to do anything of the sort with Fabregas). Much as the time to talk about transfers is normally when the football ends, this summer there’s a major tournament and then that Olympics nonsense. If we want to get business done quickly then this is a good start from the club, and it’s exciting to see us bring in a player like this too.

Finally for today, UEFA have charged Arsene Wenger with improper conduct relating to the way in which he expressed his displeasure to the referee after the Milan game. Arsene was rightly pissed off by some shocking officiating on Tuesday night, something I haven’t really touched on myself but it bears mentioning that Milan worked out and took advantage of the fact that the ref was willing to give them free kicks simply for falling over. He bought it every single time and apparently he’s going to Euro 2012 as one of UEFA’s top match officials. Perhaps if UEFA stopped sending us these clowns then our manager wouldn’t have to get himself charged with improper conduct on an annual basis.

That’s about that then for today. Have a good one and I’ll be back soon. Of course if you can’t wait I’ll be about throughout the day on twitter, feel free to give me a follow on @LepersMessiahs. In the meantime, cheerio.

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  • Michael Sheehy  On 08/03/2012 at 7:40 pm

    The next time I’m dunking a hob nob I’ll only be able to think of it crumbling like the Spuds.

  • vieira4  On 08/03/2012 at 9:09 pm

    That referee was a pain in the butt. Worst decision; giving Ibrahimovic a free kick for kicking the ball into Vermaelen’s arm and then falling over.

  • Leper Messiah  On 09/03/2012 at 9:35 am

    I’m not sure I could pick just one decision, the man was appalling.

    Jam, that metaphor has had me craving hobnobs for 24 hours now!

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