Apologies for the lateness of the hour at which this blog is being written. I've spent all day staring at the rain falling in High Definition, live from Celtic Manor. I have no doubt it would have been far more exciting in 3D but my TV is not that posh, and I don't see the attraction of watching telly while wearing flash specs. Yes, the golf was a let down - roll on tomorrow. As it has been a long day, and tomorrow will be too, I'll keep it brief.
In the world of proper sport (Arsenal to you and me) there has been some disappointing team news ahead of one of the biggest games of the season (admittedly, Chelsea away would not have been such 15 years ago, but they're not bothered by a lack of class and history, so nor should we be). Kieran Gibbs is developing a worrying tendency to get injured after every game he plays. As a result of this he is now out for three weeks (at least) with a calf injury. I am sure that most of the injuries that keep Arsenal players out these days would not have done so in the past. Surely we can't be that unlucky with our players, can we?
Worse news is that Cesc Fabregas has not made the cut for Sunday. I had been holding out hope all week that the negative talk was the usual smokescreen that manager's tend to employ ahead of such matches, kidding on that their star names have an injury, only to appear like a young gazelle come kick-off time. Sadly not, so no Cesc on Sunday. Samir Nasri will continue to deputise I am sure.
Manuel Almunia is also still "injured" so Fabianski has a chance to prove himself on the big occasion. Keep everything crossed Gooners, in the hope that Fabianski can confound the critics (and most of us) once again. We will certainly need our goalkeeper to put in a performance if we are to come away from Stamford Bridge with any points.
Thomas Vermaelen remains injured, and Wenger is now admitting that he is "not close" to returning. Why Arsene ever feels the need to tell us someone is "two weeks" away I will never understand. We can now, I think, get officially worried about Vermaelen's absence. Arsenal really need him, but I think we are going to have to get used to him not being around for a long time to come.
Can we win on Sunday? Yes we can. We need the back four to somehow show Drogba that THEY are in charge, and I think that will mean Squillaci hitting him hard early on (and if that means we have to go all Stoke City on him then so be it). With Chamakh's physical presence I hope that we can give them trouble at the back - he can be a real match for John Terry. With this being a big game I fully expect Arshavin to come in to his own, and Jack Wilshere will certainly not be afraid of the physical battle with Essien. We have the players to beat Chelsea, but they need to believe that themselves. A win against Chelsea or Man Utd is crucial to what Wenger describes as this team's "development" - and there's no time like the present.
My team for Sunday would be:
Fabianski - Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy - Song, Wilshere, Nasri - Arshavin, Chamakh, Rosicky.
With it being late, and there being little chance of any interesting Arsenal stuff to talk about tomorrow, the next post will be after the game on Sunday.