Denilson has decided to speak candidly about his colleagues in an interview with Arsenal Brasil. The article was published by Arsenal Brasil and Arseblog late last night, though most will have read it in the "exclusive" in The Sun. The general gist is that Denilson has said Arsenal lack leadership among the players which is naturally being seen as a dig at Cesc Fabregas. What Denilson has said is nothing that most of the fans don't already think themselves. The thing is that Denilson is a player, employed by the Club, and should be keeping his mouth firmly shut in public. Any comments like this should never make the public domain. I remember William Gallas deciding to go public on the problems at Arsenal and being sacked as Captain in the process. Given that Denilson is not in the Gallas class as a player he really should be heading towards the exit door over this. Most Arsenal fans would not complain if Denilson had already made his final appearance for the Club, and his performances in recent weeks have been so lacking in effort as to be disgraceful. At the very least Denilson should be dropped from the team for tonight (he is almost certainly scheduled to be in the starting line-up) - I suspect the travelling Gooners might not be quite so welcoming to him as they usually are. Fabregas, to his credit, has moved quickly to diffuse any problems by posting a picture on Twitter of himself and Denilson on the team coach this morning - the players are travelling to Leeds by train incidentally.
On to the match tonight and Leeds' Manager Simon Grayson has decided to stoke things up a bit by slagging Theo Walcott. According to this brain-box young Theo should be suspended for admitting that he committed a bookable offence in the first game. That's right people, Theo should be banned for admitting to doing something punishable by a yellow card. The Leeds crowd will surely be rabid enough tonight without their plank of a boss winding them up even further.
I am concerned about tonight. I'm concerned because Arsene will make numerous changes to the team again, and I can see Ignasi Miquel possibly making his debut with Djourou rested (I'd far rather see Song move back alongside Koscielny, and Djourou really does need a rest). This Arsenal team has been incredibly inconsistent, but that is possibly reflected in the changes made to the side every few days. Obviously certain rotation is required to keep players fresh, but Wenger is likely to choose to abandon the FA Cup in favour of a Title push - which is okay (actually it's not okay at all) if you have a team that will definitely challenge. Of most concern is what a defeat to rubbish like Leeds would do to the fragile mentality of our players. It is a sobering thought to consider that by this time next week we could be out of both Cups and clinging on to Manchester United for dear life in the Premier League.
We know that Szczesny will play in goal after a "setback" for Lukasz ("out for a couple of days") Fabianski. Apart from that there are no clues as to the starting line-up. Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere are definitely on the trip, and Cesc's withdrawal early on Saturday hopefully means he will start the game and dominate it in the way he did when coming on as sub eleven days ago. My Leeds supporting mate tells me that pace is something they simply can't deal with, as evidenced by Walcott's influence in the first game, so I'd love to see Theo play from the beginning as well. I am always in favour of seeing the game get won, and then resting players, rather that needing to chase like we did against them last time out.
Despite my concerns I expect Arsenal to win tonight - Arsene has spoken about the "wake-up call" at Ipswich last week and certain players need to start delivering some performances - we keep hearing about the strength of the "squad" at Arsenal, and tonight represents a fine opportunity for this "squad" to show its mettle in a hostile northern environment. I, sadly, will be employing the Sky+ and watching the game "as live" after the event due to a badly timed committee meeting at my cricket club. I'll review tomorrow morning.