First of all today I have to make a slight correction from yesterday. I said that I thought that the boss had refused to shake hands with The Spuds manager, as it hadn't been shown on Sky, and a few people had commented on it. I watched MOTD again last night and they clearly showed a handshake between the two of them at the end of the game. I'm happy to be able to put that right, as I hoped it wasn't true.
Having read a few blogs yesterday I was shocked at some of the comments directed at the boss, and some of the players too. I have no problem with constructive criticism, but some of the comments aimed at the boss were racist in my opinion. If these so called fans think the defeat to The Spuds didn't hurt the boss they are completely wrong. Did they not see his reactions on the sideline when things went wrong during that awful second half. He can be criticised for making some mistakes definitely, but to question his love for the club, or his desire for Arsenal to win is just ridiculous.
I watched the game again I can only say that The Spuds didn't outplay Arsenal in the second half, but individual and team errors were capitalised on by The Spuds. Arsenal had enough good chances in that second half to have got three goals of their own, and they paid the price for not taking those chances. Cesc Fabregas may not yet be back to his best, but he showed flashes of the player that he is yesterday, and with better finishing by him and some team mates his contribution would have been a lot more telling.
Those same hate merchants are telling the world that Cesc wanted to leave last summer, and that his heart isn't with Arsenal any more. I don't believe that for a second, and I firmly believe that Cesc is on his way back to his best for Arsenal. In my opinion he is the best player in the world in his position, and we will see that very soon.
Luckily for the players they have a chance to start to make amends tomorrow night, as they travel to Braga for our fifth game in our Champions League group. It's a game that Braga have to win, and that might just play into Arsenal's hands. It will be interesting to see exactly what team the boss picks for that game, and if he makes wholesale changes. In theory he could make eight or nine changes, and quite a few players will feel that they deserve a chance in this game. With a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday, I think Arsenal have to make sure that their best team is fit and ready to compete in that game.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Eboue, Johan Djourou, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Robin Van Persie and Tomas Rosicky playing from the start. If the players that played on Saturday were indeed tired, then they will get a chance to recharge their batteries, as they warm the bench tomorrow night. With Braga needing to win the game should be set up for Walcott to find space behind their defence, and show exactly what he can do. Braga will still be smarting from their 6-0 defeat at The Emirates, and they will see this game as an opportunity to gain some revenge. I'll preview that game in full tomorrow.
With Chelsea losing three of their last four Premier League games, and only scoring one goal in those games, there is a real chance for Arsenal to take advantage of their woes. There are rumblings of managerial unrest at Chelsea after Ray Wilkins was sacked from his post as assistant manager, and Arsenal need to put together a good run to take advantage of that. I think this season is the most open Premier League season ever, and usually a team that loses four of their first 14 games would already be out of the running. Luckily for Arsenal they are only two points off the top of the table, and they have scored as many goals as both "Manure" and Chelsea.
That points to the defence being the root of the problem, and the continued absence of Thomas Vermaelen is a real problem. According to the statistics supplied by MrArsenal Blog, Arsenal have a very good record in games where Djourou plays. I'm sure the boss must be aware that the only game we have lost this season that Djourou started was away to Shakhtar Donetsk, and he deserved to keep his place against The Spuds on Saturday. He is our tallest defender, and he wins more aerial balls than either Squillaci or Koscielny. I think he deserves to be considered a first choice until Vermaelen returns.
There's so much more that could be said about Saturday's game, but I'm going to leave it there as an unfortunate capitulation that must not be allowed to happen again. That's it for today.
See You Tomorrow.