A bit of a disappointing start today with the news that our appeal to have Thomas Vermaelen’s red card overturned has been denied.
Not sure why this decision was made – any sane individual could see it was not a foul and therefore not a sending off – but I suppose what needs to be considered is that is the FA who is dealing with this. The are neither sane nor and individual and are never likely to get these sort of decisions right.
On the positive side I suppose we can be happy that the challenge was not deemed frivolous and Vermaelen’s ban will stand was not extended beyond the original one game. The decision confirms the fact that Arsene Wenger will have to choose two of Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre and Alex Song to start at the back against Birmingham.
I expect it will be Song and Silvestre starting together at the back with Denilson playing the holding role in midfield. The change will give Campbell time to rest for Barcelona where he can play alongside Vermaelen and allow Song to move back to his favoured midfield position.
Personally I don’t think our ability to get three points at Birmingham will come down to our defensive stability, more about getting our attacking game working. If players like Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky and Samir Nasri fire then I don’t think Vermaelen and Sol’s absence at the back will be felt at all.
The attraction of Barcelona in the Champions has distracted many Arsenal fans from the very real possibility of us topping the league table by the end of next weekend.
We face Birmingham away, followed by Barcelona at home and finish the week with a relatively comfortable home game against Wolves. Meanwhile Manchester United face Bolton away, Bayern Munich in Germany and an epic clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford.
There is nothing more difficult in high-end football than backing up after an away leg in Europe and I fully expect Chelsea to grab at least a point against United, leaving the path clear for us to take top spot, granted we win our two games of course. Watch this space.
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