Friday Waffle

Good morning, I’m back from a couple of days off from the world of blogging to deal with trifling details such as the ever increasing pressure of my workload at university. This being the second of four years of study that will lead me to teacher training, I’ve come to appreciate that Spring is just “that time of year” when the work piles up and you just have to get down to it.

When I was still at school some eight years ago I always seemed to find the way to avoid knuckling down to the serious business. I wish my eighteen year old self were here to give me a few pointers, but in retrospect that young man’s avoidance of hard work may have much to do with the fact that I am only now at the age of 26 studying for my degree.

I hadn’t really consulted the football news over the last couple of days before this morning and it would seem not much has been missed. It’s a bit of a strange one this weekend because there are a couple of Premier League games and of course the FA Cup quarter finals are taking place but some teams like ourselves just don’t have a fixture (I assume we were earmarked to face one of the quarter-finalists this weekend). This leaves us with a lengthy wait for our next game which isn’t until Wednesday next week when we face the always tricky trip to Goodison Park to play Everton.

Last week we had nearly a week’s break between our efforts against AC Milan and the game with Newcastle and that was good for us, the break was needed after our Champions League exertions. This time I have to say I find it quite annoying. We have momentum and really this is where you want to see us get into our next game and get the next big result (hopefully). A week’s break is nice and all but I’m not sure its as needed as the one before the Newcastle game.

Still at least we’re not in the Europa League, eh? Both Manchester clubs were eliminated last night but I have to say I’m not wheeling out much mockery because I don’t think either team was enthralled with the competition and their elimination comes as something of a relief for a lot of their fans I would think. One of my mates is a United fan and his interest in football has generally waned over the years but still he found United’s presence in the Europa League deeply embarrassing and was a strong advocate for them playing a reserve team that would get beaten as quickly as possible. As it transpired their first team was more than capable of playing with the lack of application that their eager opponents were quick to exploit. In the end, I can’t really make much fun of United or City because like them, I’d much rather our club was out of the Europa League than in it. For me that competition is less meaningful even than the Carling Cup.

In our own news, there’s good and bad news on the injury front. Arseblog News reports that there’s encouraging signs that Jack Wilshere will finally play a game this season, whilst on the other side of the coin the season is over for Per Mertesacker. Mertesacker has been the target of sustained criticism this season and in fairness he has struggled to adapt to a league where pace is very important. However I felt he was making progress and he’s clearly an intelligent footballer and a good reader of the game. I think in time he would be the same player for us that he was/is for Bremen and Germany. He has been a calming influence at times and we’d have been better off with him for the run-in than without certainly.

As for Wilshere, as I said the signs are good. Arsene Wenger says,

“Jack’s scan was positive. There is no problem, it is normal evolution and he is continuing his progression. It’s too early to fix a date though, we go day by day with him.”

When a player has missed so much of a season, conventional wisdom seems to be that we should write them off for the rest of the campaign and give them the summer to prepare for the new season. With Wilshere I would have to disagree. If he can play even a couple of games before the end of the season then we need that quality on the pitch. Whatever else you can say on the battle between ourselves, Chelsea and Spurs for Champions League qualification, it seems a safe bet to say it’s going to go down to the wire. We need our best players, even the ones that have missed large parts of the season.

Another such man is Andre Santos who is also close to playing after months out. The badly needed backup to Kieran Gibbs (because of Gibbs’ injury problems, not because Gibbs lacks quality because he clearly doesn’t, England would do well to take him to Euro 2012) is fit for action and it will be interesting to see what the manager does with the two left backs now. Santos started off at the club looking a little unfit and a little off the pace of the game but as time went on he started to look inspired, hard work in the gym clearly paid off and I think we’ve got a good player on our hands. Since Gibbs returned I think we’ve been nursing him through games a bit, and with Santos also coming back from a bad injury perhaps we’ll see a little rotation from the manager to keep both players fit. I think it’s going to be an interesting battle between the two for the starting place, and one which can only benefit us as a team.

Arseblog News carries an interesting piece on the club’s approach to dealing with young players using social media sites like twitter and facebook. I’d encourage you to give it a read rather than me rehashing the quotes here. Personally I wonder who the club would encourage youngsters to follow the example of. I can’t imagine they’d hold up Emmanuel Frimpong as an example of getting it right! Still, I’m glad the club are generally positive and not seeking to stop players using twitter and such because it is good fun to see a little glimpse of the players when they’re not in front of an interviewers cameras. I’ve never been one for celebrity news or gossip, I have no interest in pictures of our players looking annoyed because a photographer is following them around Tescos, but I do like seeing that they have fun at work and that they are a group of mates as well as colleagues. It’s a nice little insight is all.

Anyway, that’s all from me for this morning, have yourselves a good Friday and I’ll be back soon.

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