“It’s not yet five past three!”

As is so often the case on Friday’s, with Arsene Wenger hosting his usual Thursday afternoon press conference, it is all about injury news and player availability today ahead of tomorrow’s trip to West Brom.

The news is mixed: Cesc Fabregas and Thomas Vermaelen are still out and not set for return until Chelsea next weekend, while Kieran Gibbs joins them on the sidelines after badly bruising his foot against Spurs. Meanwhile Tomas Rosicky (ankle) and Emmanuel Eboue (knee) face late fitness tests to see if they will come up good for the game.

More positive news comes in the form of Abou Diaby’s return from the ankle problem suffered at the hands of Paul Robinson, while Alex Song returns from suspension and Sebastien Squillaci from a well-earned night off at White Hart Lane.

The various problems in the squad means the team virtually picks itself tomorrow.

Almunia will return in goals behind a back four of Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny and Clichy, the midfield will be comprised of Song, Denilson and the energetic Wilshere while the front three will see Chamakh receiving support from Arshavin on the left and one of Nasri, Rosicky or Vela on the right. Aside from the constantly-confusing decision of who should play on the right I would be extremely surprised to see any changes to that line-up.

Just speaking about the injuries to Cesc and Vermaelen and their potential availability for Chelsea, I think Wenger is being deliberately careful with the pair and getting them just right for what will be a huge game. I suspect that Vermaelen could return as early as the midweek Champions League if he really needed to, but with Squillaci and Koscielny working well at the moment there is no need to rush him back.

Meanwhile Cesc just has to play, doesn’t he? We need our best player on the pitch in what is, on paper, the most difficult fixture of the entire league season. Fortunately I think the manager is just playing mind-games with Carlo Ancelotti with his proclamation that Cesc is only a “small hope” for Chelsea. Everything I have heard suggests the captain’s recovery is going extremely smoothly and he is almost certain to play against the league champions, so in my opinion there is no need to worry.

West Brom is a team we should be beating in the league, but the attitude of the players is all-important. West Brom at The Emirates Saturday afternoon will not have the same charged atmosphere as Spurs away on Tuesday night in a knockout Carling Cup tie, but the boys must turn up with the same win-at-all-costs mentality to avoid any potential problems.

With a tough midweek trip to Belgrade followed up by the huge Premier League clash with Chelsea, I’d like to see our team take the game by the horns and go for the kill early against West Brom. I know football isn’t as simple as saying “Come on boys, you’re better so go out there and quickly score three goals!” but I feel we need to try to end the game as a contest as quickly as possible tomorrow afternoon. Scoring early goals against West Brom to make the way for some necessary rotations and a decrease in intensity could be the difference between an excellent or a mediocre performance against Chelsea a week later.

I remember a piece of commentary in the season we went undefeated after we scored two goals in the opening couple of minutes: “It’s not yet five past three!” Wouldn’t that be perfect here?

PS. Don’t forget to catch Arseblog’s fabulous Arsecast today and indeed, every Friday until the end of time.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s clash with West Brom by leaving a comment.

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15 Responses to ““It’s not yet five past three!””

  1. Adam Sommer
    September 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    I totally agree, Arsenal do really need to jump on West Brom early and take control. I have no doubt that that is the game plan, but planning and doing are two very different things.

    It was a very energetic and emotional match on Tuesday, so it truly will take some extra work to get motivated for this one.

    I predict Arsenal 3 West Brom 0

    Party On!

  2. irish gooner
    September 25, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    why is their barca colours on your badge at the top of the screen?

  3. Andrew Weber
    September 25, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    @ Irish gooner – They’re not Barcelona colours, they are Arsenal colours. You can read the explanation of the crest here: http://arsenalfcblog.com/about/

  4. John
    September 25, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    I think your midfield three is a bit conservative for a home game against West Brom.

    I suspect that Nasri will be played alongside Song and Wilshire with Denilson a sub after sixty minutes, probably for Jumping Jack.

  5. billi
    September 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    but it’s already four o’clock now …. 😎

  6. billi
    September 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    it’s five to twelve 🙁

  7. Gunna shah
    September 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Wenger got it all wrong today,there was no need to bring diaby into the team so early,willshire should have have started,his impact,when he came on. was there to see,diaby if he had started at all, should have been from the bench,brought nothing to the game today,three points dropped,incredible,west brom scored three against arsenal at the emirates,WOW.

  8. Gibbs
    September 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Disgusting, disgraceful performance today. Almunia is back to his incompetent best.

    These are the type of performances that make you realise that we are not winners. We are losers and this will be another potless season im afraid. We never learn from our mistakes.

  9. LAGunner
    September 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Obviously bad performances all around (Except Nasri and Chamakh who I thought played well). My question is one of tactics. Why was Song going so far forward? I’ve never seen him this far foward and so often as I did today. It cost us a bit in extra time when the ball fell to Vela (I think it was Vela) in the box and Song collided with him. I thought to myself, What the hell is Song doing in the box on the left side no less. I can understand how scoring one goal this season may have him hungry, but during many points in the match, he seemed to play too far forward too often in this match. Both Diaby AND Song bounding forward together spells defensive trouble for the back.

    Clichy and Almunia’s performances are easy targets…

  10. MTY
    September 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Eboue-Song-Diaby in mid field!! Where is the creative spark?
    Look how Wilshere changed the game once he came on. With Cesc bound to return for the Chelsea game, Wilshere should have started today. The mid field line up used today would have made sense for the away CL trip next Tuesday.
    Nasri & Chamakh were the only inspirations in the side. On paper, this was supposed to be one of the easiest fixtures of the season; 3 points gone! Really tough to stomach.
    Almunia & Clichy continue to let us down. I don’t think the keeper should take credit for the penalty save cos it was his error in the first place that led to it. The goal keeper issue is turning out to be a nightmare and I feel once Gibbs is fit again, it’s time to drop Clichy!!

  11. Ianinja
    September 26, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    Almunia makes mistakes and he is going to make more. However he is all we have and I do not think Wenger is going to buy a new keeper in January or even next season. This dosen’t mean I rate Almunia, a very good second choice but a bit fragile to be number 1. I’ve accepted the fact that he is like a growing boy who needs constant support from fans although he’s already 32(not sure). Come on look at the repeats when the goals were conceded, his reaction and face shows a pitiful man, low on confidence almost bordering on patheticness.

    This time I think Wenger got the tactics wrong, 2-0 down and you take out Kos?Our opponents are West brom but have some respect for them. I may be wrong but that change shows desperation with a tinge of arrogance.

    Overall a bad team performance, some players like Diaby and Clichy should be rested untill their fitness improves.

  12. Lux
    September 26, 2010 at 3:44 am #

    In so many seasons gone by we have blamed injuries and the lack of cover for our poor return of silverware. This season I have been so impressed in how we have built a team with quality back up without alienating anyone by leaving them on the bench….for example Song, Eboue, Wilshere, Vela, Diaby..(the list goes on) could be counted as first teamers as well as impact subs. We have been hit by injury already this season and we have coped admirably until today. I know he is only 18 but due to Fabregas` injury I was a tad surprised to see Wilshere left on the bench.

    Almunia may have been to blame for a couple of sloppy parts…but should the ball have been there in the first [place…..the midfield lacked confidence and the usual totalitarian control we are used too. I dont think AW will buy and I dont think Almunia will improve.

    The positives include the late fight back but for me…we are still missing our Matador…the man with the killer instinct infront of goal…we have players that can pass….can dribble and can look damn fine but where are the goals coming from…how long can we rely on the midfield…with Fab, Nasri….scoring.

    Im confused, bewidered and a little upset….I know its not the end of the seaon….but I know I would be feeling very different if we had of won after Chelsea loss.

    I just wish Walcot, RvP, Verminator and Fab were fit and stayed fit….then we would have no excuse!

    – on an aside – My parents have been visiting me this week for the first time in 2 years..they ofcourse brought me the new arsenal home shirt (and one for my son-his first ever) since the arrival of said shirts we have drawn with Sunderland, beaten Tottenham Kids and lost too West Brom…..theyre not jinxed are they?

  13. eddie malta
    September 26, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Sorry guys but I blame AW for wrong tactics. Did it have to take an hour to realise that Diaby and Ebouie were a liability to the team. Handicapped as we are with Almuna in goal, Arsenal are once again destined to fail miserably.

  14. varun
    September 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    i think its better for arsenal if wenger wil leave the club.he is going after money for club not for glory.iam a huge fan of arsenal.now arsenal is a average team no many good players. only cesc,rosicky,nasri,walcot is world class.i dont know why players like song,danilson are playing in first 11 they have no skill, even they dont deserve to play in epl. i dont know why mr wenger sold hleb to barca. if that season arsenal was runner up because of hleb. however h didnt scored many goals but he is a very dribbler.

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