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Monday, 14 March 2011

It gets no better, Jens Lehmann

Jens Lehmann - give him a pair of gloves, and get him in goal

It's been 36 hours since I vented my spleen on Saturday evening. There has been no real change in my mood since then. It seems that the major emotion of most Arsenal fans is not one of disappointment, but one of anger. That is certainly the way I feel. I am angry that we are watching our players once again throw away what promised to be a season ending with silverware. The internet blogs and forums are awash now with articles and opinions on the Club and, more particularly, the future of the Manager. Arsene Wenger and the Board need to realise that, when the Premier League challenge finally dies, they are likely to have the sort of dissension in the stands that hasn't been seen for a long time at Arsenal. Something must change, and people will need to see the Manager preparing to make that change, before this season finishes - with the prospect of ticket prices going up next year they might find a lot of season tickets go un-renewed.
Of course the injuries are piling up, but we knew that was likely to happen. Our problems are not so much who isn't available, but who is. According to the official website Alex Song will not be back for Saturday. It seems that he is another one who has picked up some mysterious knock - he played the whole of the Carling Cup Final but hasn't been seen since. Arsenal miss him desperately, but the major issue is that we have nobody in the squad capable of covering for him. I believe that Denilson is his designated understudy, but you'd never know it from performances on the pitch. I think after pre-season Emmanuel Frimpong was set to move up but was scuppered by a cruciate knee injury, but should we really have been looking to rely on another teenager in midfield? Francis Coquelin, the other Arsenal player who is at home in that role, is yet another of our staff playing on loan to other clubs. The other mystery injury is the one to Theo Walcott, whose "sprained ankle" has now kept him out for as long as a hamstring strain - what the hell is going on?

With the goalkeeping situation being parlous it seems that Jens Lehmann might be set for a shock return to the Arsenal squad. Jens has been back at the Club recently doing a bit of coaching as he works towards his qualifications in that role. From my point of view I would love to see the big man occupying the Arsenal goal until the end of the season. Even now he will be a better option than Manuel Almunia. I will always maintain that Wenger's decision to stick with Almunia, at the expense of Jens, in 2008 cost us the Title that season. Lehmann would bring a winners mentality to the dressing room. The likes of Arshavin, Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky etc would not be allowed to slack with him around. Cesc Fabregas would have been physically restrained from all the hugging and kissing in the Nou Camp tunnel before the match last week. Above all, with no Djourou or Vermaelen, Jens would be the talker that the defence requires. Lehmann was constantly barking out the orders when he was in goal at Arsenal, always organising his colleagues. There is an interview with him on the end of season DVD from 2003-2004 in which he talks about the importance of Sol Campbell's vocal leadership in the defence - for my money Lehmann shouldn't underestimate his own contribution in that area.

It's going to be a long week ahead of us with no game until Saturday. The players have five days to regroup and try to rebuild some confidence. I hope that Saturday marks a necessary change in philosophy from everyone involved with the team. We all know what is required - I just hope the Manager can finally see it.

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