I woke today expecting to see Chelsea atop of the Premiership and our boys languishing behind by 9 points. What a delight it was to see they had failed to beat Everton and that John Terry had been sent off for a very similar challenge to the one he made on Bacary Sagna a few weeks ago. What a crazy, crazy season this is turning out to be.
The result means that Liverpool will go into Christmas at the head of the table and we will go in fifth, 8 points behind. Aston Villa sit in third although victory over them on Boxing Day will see us jump ahead of them on goal difference. Manchester United currently sit in fourth although the couple of games they have in hand coupled with Liverpool and Chelsea’s recent wobbles suggest to me that they are looking the best of all the title contenders. Whoever wins, it’s going to be one hell of a second half of the season.
The fallout from the draw with Liverpool is sure to be massive. The news is that Cesc Fabregas could be out for up to two months while Emmanuel Adebayor is certain to miss out on the crucial clash with Villa. How we will line up in that game is anyone’s guess, but the loss of both of those players will mean the likes of Alex Song, Denilson and Abou Diaby are really going to have to step up.
The loss of Fabregas is going to be a big one, but if there is one positive to be taken from the situation it is that it may force Arsene Wenger to become more active in the January transfer window. A month or so ago he would have been expecting to have Fabregas, Theo Walcott and perhaps even Tomas Rosicky at his disposal but fresh injuries to the former two and the prolonged absence of the latter means we’re desperately low on attacking options from midfield. A change is in order.
Looking at our fixtures over the next three months after the Villa game reveals a huge opportunity for Arsenal. We play 12 games in a row before another clash with a big four side and the sequence of Portsmouth (H), Bolton (A), Hull City (A), Everton (A), West Ham (H), Tottenham (A), Sunderland (H), Fulham (H), West Brom (A), Blackburn (H), Newcastle (A) and Manchester City (H) is about as easy as it gets.
Although we have struggled against the smaller sides it will only take a shift in attitude and a couple of good results to overturn that phenomenon, something which could be achieved by bringing in a new player. There are whispers from Russia that we might be making a bid for Andreii Arshavin, but I’d say for that the £20m being suggested it’s unlikely to happen. However, something does need to happen or we could miss out on a huge opportunity that has presented itself in the form of a friendly fixture list and some friendly results from the other members of the big four so far this season.
There will of course be calls for the centre of our defence to be reinforced and calls for a defensive midfielder to be signed. If William Gallas does leave – as many people are expecting – then the manager has to act but if the Frenchman stays then I would be happy to see him partner Johan Djourou for the rest of the season. As for a defensive midfielder, Song had been a huge improvement on Denilson and has earned the opportunity to be relied upon.
For me though the injury to Cesc means the priority for the manager is to sign an attacking midfielder when the window opens. The fixture list is kind and if it does happen then I believe we have a much better chance at sneaking the Premiership than most people realise.
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