By Avenell Dave
We knew it was going to happen sometime, didn’t we?
We knew that however much we wanted to kid ourselves that William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen could play a full season together, the demands of modern football made that an impossibility.
In truth, of the two of them, I think losing Gallas is the preferred option for a number of reasons.
Sol Campbell revealed in an interview last week that Arsène Wenger is looking for new recruits in the summer and while the departure through injury of Johann Djourou probably messed up his plans, I suspect he realises that he needs a new, towering, bruising central defender.
We haven’t become more solid since Thomas Vermaelen arrived, simply because the blend doesn’t work.
You need the beast to play alongside the beauty and we have two footballing stoppers who don’t have the aerial supremacy or steely determination that you need in the Premier League.
We might all despise J*hn T*rry but he sticks his head where the studs fly and when on form, plays like our very own Tony Adams, thinking of clearing the ball first and foremost.
With Gallas out of contract at the end of the season, there seems to me to be a very distinct strategy at play by the Arsenal board and CEO Ivan Gazidis in particular.
Gallas was on big money when he joined Arsenal from the Ch*vs and he’s not getting any younger.
If the Gunners are to break their pay structure and sign him up for two years instead of one, he needs to accept a pay cut which somehow, especially with a World Cup behind him, I just can’t see happening.
The fact is, Gallas is probably correct if he thinks he has one last move and pay day and Paris St Germain has been mooted.
It would allow Arsenal to save face, slightly, by saying that Gallas refused to fit in with their pay structure, while at the same time not admitting that while he remains a great player, as the older of the two first choice defenders, it makes sense to let him go rather than the Verminator.
With a week off following the Sunderland game, Big Sol can come back in and provide some height to cope with the Rory Delap slingshots while TV can deal with Ricardo Fuller, who will no doubt try to do his marker some damage during the course of the game.
I spoke to a Stoke fan yesterday who said we owe them a thumping and after their extra time exertions on Wednesday, tomorrow may well be that time.
We need the points more than they do, but we have to win if the hoodoo that Bolton held over us does not become a Potteries curse.
It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be rough, and without Abou Diaby to add some height to midfield, we’re going to have to be incredibly disciplined and resolute to get three points.
Do we have it in us? Well anything less than three points are going to make it very hard for us if we’re to win the title while a win would be one down of the four trickiest matches we have left (Man City at home, T*tt*nh*m away and Birmingham away...you know what happened there last time!?).
Manu Eboue has to keep his place in defence – especially after his impressive showing last week and away from home we need an attacking threat against a team like Stoke.
Games seem few and far between now and every one is a cup final, as the cliché goes.
I’d rather play Stoke away in August or April rather than a grim February evening but we just have to show we have the stuff of champions.
Eboue Campbell Vermaelen Clichy
Song Fabregas Ramsey
Nasri Bendtner Walcott