Squillaci: Not the one from Italia '90
At some point this morning/overnight the following headline appeared on arsenal.com, without the merest hint of irony: "Squillaci signs for Arsenal." I couldn't begin to tell you the excitement this shock news caused me. At least they got around to it in the end. As you can see from the photograph our new boy has been given the number 18 shirt. He has my sympathies already. It is often mentioned that there could be some kind of curse on the Arsenal number 9 shirt since squad numbers came in - Smith (retired injured, 2 years) Merson (transferred, 2 years) Suker (transferred, 1 year) Jeffers (least said, soonest mended, 3 years) Reyes (booted out of the English game by ugly brothers, 2 years) Eduardo (leg smashed, 3 years). Amidst all of this the curse of the number 18 shirt is, I feel, overlooked. Just consider this for a line-up of players to have been "fortunate" enough to wear it - David Hillier, Steve Morrow, Gilles Grimandi, Pascal Cygan, Mikael Silvestre. Hardly a list of the great and the good is it? Let's hope Squillaci can buck the trend and become a legend for the right reasons (honourable mention to the Grimster, as ever, for stopping Davids scoring at the new stadium on opening day with the greatest, and most well received, foul committed by an Arsenal player). In fairness I am not saying that those players were not good (with the exception of Silvestre, who was awful) but they were not exactly fan favourites now were they? Even Grimandi, before he was elevated to cult status, was very much the Eboue of his time when he first arrived, and took some serious stick for his ineptitude as a centre-back - the move to midfield saved his Arsenal career. I'm waffling now, but just to say I want Squillaci to be a new hero of the North Bank (or the first hero of the new North Bank if you like.)
Tomorrow the boys are taking on Blackburn Rovers in the early kick-off. Squillaci will not be involved, but Koscielny is back after his ridiculous red-card saw him suspended last week. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kieran Gibbs play, simply because he is taller than Clichy, and I expect Diaby and Song to provide the defensive element in midfield. The Manager told us yesterday that Denilson is back in contention. Again, pre-season is shown to be a waste of everyone's time and effort. How can Denilson be involved? He has not been seen in any match since April. Perhaps if he'd made a 45 minute cameo appearance in the reserves on Wednesday I would be more understanding. Added to the fact that he hasn't played, who exactly does he replace in the matchday 18? Koscielny comes back, but I would expect Djourou (who I would rather see playing against the boneheads of Blackburn) to keep his place on the bench. Fabregas will not miss out, nor Eboue or Van Persie. That brings us down to Gibbs/Clichy, Vela or Jack Wilshere (and remember that Koscielny has already replaced one of them.) If Denilson is in the squad, and Wilshere not, then I give up trying to work out what goes on in Wenger's mind. I like Denilson. He is not the useless clown that a number of Arsenal fans would have you believe. However he is, right now, probably the weakest (in every sense of the word) of our midfield players. Therefore he should not be anywhere near the team tomorrow. We need as much power as we can get against Fat Sam's cloggers so please Arsene, I implore you, leave the lightweight Brazillian out. With no new goalkeeper (I continue to keep everything crossed, but Tuesday at 5pm draws ever nearer) we can expect Almunia to play again - pray to the Almighty that no illness befalls Manuel overnight as we can not, CAN NOT, have Fabianski playing at Ewood Park again tomorrow.
I will post after the match tomorrow. How long after depends on the result and the mood it puts me in. Here's hoping I'm not ranting. Incidentally Rovers are 5-1 with Totesport to beat Arsenal tomorrow - generous odds for non-Gooners to try and take advantage of - my confidence is reflected in the fact that Arsenal are NOT in my accumulator tomorrow.