By Avenell Dave
We speculated here that Arsene Wenger may leave out Robin van Persie against Marseille and when the team news came through, I have to admit I was surprised.
Yes, we want to see Park get some games, but with Champions League qualification and top placing still in the balance, leaving out the Dutchman is a gamble I didn't expect Le Boss to take.
West Brom would seem to be the easier of the two games Arsenal play this week and we have seen before how taking our eye off the ball has resulted in a promising start to a UCL campaign ending disappointingly with second place and ties against much stronger opposition. Like Barcelona.
Victory last night and against Dortmund would have made the final game against Olympiakos no more than a formality and handed Wenger the opportunity both to rest established players and give young or fringe players the chance to get some experience or game time.
As it is, both our remaining games are now vital and the opportunity to take it easy in Greece has passed.
What a fairytale it would have been had RvP scored late on when clean through, his chip too delicate to beat the Marseille keeper.
But not winning a game after the run we've been on is not the end of the world.
You could see from how Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho and others performed how much Saturday had taken out of them and how right Wenger probably was to rest Robin given his injury history.
And a quick word on Park: the Korean striker has not had enough pitch time as yet to make a judgement on his ability, so let's cut him a bit of slack until he gets a proper run of first team appearances, cos at this moment in time it's too early to draw any conclusions.
Marseille are no mugs, remember, and the way we harried and hustled them showed great credit and that the Barca ethic of defending from the front is something we are starting to emulate. That's vital given the attacking attitude we have and earned applause on many occasions.
Theo Walcott didn't have as fine a game as against the Ch*vs, but his determination to get back and cover, particularly when he switched to the left and portly Santos sauntered back, deserves some credit.
Thomas Vermaelen showed why he has to be first choice (and should be captain in my opinion) and Per Mertesacker had a far better game than at Stamford Bridge.
I would like the goalkeeping coaches to have a word with Szczesny though. He was fortunate to avoid a red against the Ch*vs and came out of his box a little too often for my liking last night.
They say all goalkeepers are mad as a box of frogs and the Pole is no different and at the moment he seems to be getting away with it. But at some point, coming out of his area to head the ball or trying to skip his way past an oncoming attacker by showing off his ball skills is going to hurt us.
Getting the ball out has to be preferable to taking such risks.
So we move on. All thoughts have to be on helping the team recover from their recent exertions and getting ready for West Brom.
We simply have to win.