By Avenell Dave
I hate the winter.
I hate the cold – but if there’s one player who should revel in the conditions, it’s Andrey Arshavin.
A leading member of the victorious Russian World Cup bid team, the Meerkat was impressive against Aston Villa last week and possibly revels in this wintery weather.
Some have speculated that he will be held back for the Partizan Belgrade match next week that Arsenal should and must win to see them into the knockout stages.
But with everyone showing such indifferent form in the Premier League, Arshavin should start, especially as he has had a week off.
There was plenty of debate on Twitter yesterday about some prat called Adrian Durham on Talkshite who said that AA23 shouldn’t be allowed back in the country because of his part in Russia’s WC2018 bid.
I have tried, occasionally, to listen to Talkshite radio in the past but I just can’t stomach it for more than a minute. It’s the Daily Sport of radio, listened to and contributed to by the simplest of folk and not meant for intelligent listeners.
Apart from the fact that many other people backed their own country’s bids (Cesc Fabregas for a start), the fact that England lost was down to money and political wrangling and the fact that there is no tangible legacy here because we have everything already – great fans, decent stadia and a superb Premier League (referees apart).
The FA has been in disarray for a while, the bid team and FA council has been at loggerheads with no FA Chief Exec for ages – how ridiculous – and a general feeling of dislike for England both on a national and the FA level.
Anyway, it’s a shame we won’t see a World Cup here for another 20+ years, but the real thing is club football and tomorrow we simply have to win and start turning Emirates into the home it is yet to become.
Mark Hughes has had plenty of run-ins with Arsenal in the past, including one with Cesc who sadly won’t be available tomorrow.
We brushed Fulham aside last season at home and should do it again – but then we said the same about Newcastle and WBA didn’t we?
Regardless of whether Sebastian Squillaci is fit or not, Johann Djourou must start.
I don’t think we’ve lost with him in the side and while he still makes the occasional slip, he’s getting into form and has been making up for lost time after a year on the sidelines.
I remember Tony Adams and Martin Keown when they first broke through and they both made mistakes and while I’m not saying Djourou is yet in their class, he has the makings of a fine centre-back.
Where he needs to grow is as a shouter – because he does give the impression that he’s just too nice a guy, and he could do with manning up a bit.
I loved the way Woijech Szescesny shouted at the defence on Tuesday night and it will be fascinating to see if he retains his position as number two when Manuel Almunia has had more than a week back in training.
It could of course have been Mark Schwarzer between the sticks for us tomorrow and I am so glad that move never happened. He is solid but hardly spectacular and it would have been a waste of money.
If we are to spend money, it MUST be on what Arsene Wenger calls ‘super-class’ players and not the freebies, rookies and journeymen that seem to be our usual recruits.
Which is why, despite his sometimes lazy impression, Arshavin has been a good signing for us. He scores and creates goals and we need the moments of magic he can provide.
Every time we think we’ve turned a corner, we suffer a setback and we have to cut them out if we’re to remain in the title race – and piling more pressure on Mark Hughes has got to be an added bonus, right?
Sagna Djourou Koscielny Gibbs
Song Wilshere Nasri
Walcott Chamakh Arshavin