A sight I do NOT want tomorrow night
With my wife confined to bed with the same sickness bug that afflicted the children last week I have spent the past two days finding out the life of a house-husband. All I can say is that it sure beats the hell out of working outside in the ice. Thankfully I managed to avoid Jeremy Kyle, though This Morning was essential viewing while feeding the baby. If only the pay was better. Having seen this particularly nasty virus sweep through the other members of the household I think it must surely be a matter of time before I am similarly struck down. I just hope it holds off at least until I get home from the Wigan game tomorrow night. I'll be travelling to the game on the high-speed train tomorrow as driving in the snow is about as palatable to me as losing 3-2 at home to Tottenham, and a whole lot more scary at times. Arsenal have said on their website that they will be monitoring the weather but I doubt very much the game will suffer the same fate as the Bolton match last season. Considering that Newcastle were able to get their match on yesterday amid about three-feet of the stuff it would be a little embarrassing for Arsenal to cancel again, unless the under soil heating were to fail.
The team news for tomorrow seems to be that Emmanuel Eboue has recovered somewhat more quickly than expected from his injury last Tuesday. If the Ivorian is fit this is welcome news as Sagna needs a rest as much as everyone else, and some rotation between the two is not a bad thing. On the other side of the defence Kieran Gibbs will surely get another start, and another chance to convince the Manager of what most of the fans already believe - that he should be the main man at left-back right now (I almost choked on my cup of tea when I saw Clichy in the "Team of the Weekend" in The Sun today). Sebastien Squillaci is listed as having a knee injury, but I wouldn't have expected to see him tomorrow anyway - I just hope he's fit for the weekend. Midfield will be interesting. Denilson will play, but who else? Carlos Vela could get a rare start on the left, with Walcott and Bendtner almost certain to complete the front three. Henri Lansbury is out on loan (and was apparently very impressive in the East Anglia derby yesterday) but Craig Eastmond is still around and would be favourite to play alongside Denilson. As for the "Fabregas" position it's anyone's guess. I would have thought Rosicky would play there, but he has played two (almost) full matches in the last week. It's a puzzler for the Manager. My personal preference would be for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to step in (if he chooses to not play Arshavin or Nasri - though I have a sneaky suspicion the Russian might lead the side tomorrow) in order to add some beef to that midfield three.
The final position up for grabs is goalkeeper. Will it be Wojciech Sczeszny or Manuel Almunia? I hope the Pole plays with Almunia on the bench, and I would be a bit surprised (and disappointed) if that wasn't the case.
I think the team could look a bit like this tomorrow night:
I think the team could look a bit like this tomorrow night:
Sczeszny - Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs - Denilson, Eastmond, Arshavin - Vela, Bendtner, Walcott.
I was really surprised when Arsenal announced that Aaron Ramsey was off to Forest on loan until January. I am concerned as to what this means for his future. I find it hard to believe that Arsenal would send him somewhere else in the middle of his recovery unless they have noticed something negative. I really hope I am wrong and that he has been sent out to play more regularly than Arsenal Reserves can offer, at a competitive level, so that he is fit to come in for a tired Wilshere/Denilson during the second half of the season. Forest are live on Sky tonight against Leicester and there is a chance that Rambo could get his first run-out for them. With it being a local derby it will surely be a bit feisty and could be a really good test of Aaron's psychological state should the tackles begin to fly. I think I'll tune in to see at least a bit of it if he is playing. I certainly won't be watching Barcelona play Real Madrid as I would rather stick sharp pointy things in to my eyes than put up with Sky fawning over Jose Mourinho.
The FA Cup draw paired us with Leeds United, at home. You can't ask for more than a home draw against lower league opposition. Leeds will be very well supported with up to 9000 tickets ready to be snapped up by the away team - you can be sure they will sell out their allocation. I imagine the Met Police are not too excited by the prospect of a visit from so many Leeds fans. What has happened to Leeds United in recent years is nothing short of a disgrace. A genuinely big club should not have sunk to those depths, and it is the fault of Peter Ridsdale. How this man was subsequently able to involve himself with Cardiff City (who almost went bankrupt too) is quite beyond me. He should have been banned after what he did to Leeds. The man was an egotistical twat who wanted the limelight for himself, but took none of the blame when it all went wrong. I wish Leeds well, but not in the FA Cup this season.
Elsewhere in the FA Cup Dover Athletic's giant-killing heroics were not rewarded in the draw. An away trip to Huddersfield Town is certainly not the stuff of dreams. They would have to be a long shot for a live TV game (a home tie may well have been on the box) so a replay seems their best hope of making some real money out of their magnificent run. I've spoken to one or two Dover regulars and they are a bit downbeat. Martin Hayes reaction on Sky last night was quite funny as he completely failed to hide his disappointment at not getting a bigger tie. It's a shame for a Club that always needs good money, so I hope they can get a draw and bring Huddersfield to Crabble (it is not, and never has been THE Crabble as the TV and radio would have you believe) where a replay would surely make the cut for a live transmission. If they could get them back to Dover then who knows, maybe the fourth round wouldn't be beyond them.