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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Leyton Orient (h) preview, United defeat a tonic

Time to show some pride in the Arsenal Cannon

I'll be keeping this very brief today as I am not very well.

We welcome Leyton Orient to Arsenal tonight following their much-deserved draw ten days ago at Brisbane Road. We know the Arsenal team this evening will be vaguely similar to the one that took part in the away game. A lot of Gooners will have been expecting to see Aaron Ramsey back in the mix this evening but he is apparently ineligible for the tie. I don't know why he can't play - did he play for Cardiff in the Cup? Whatever the reason it is a disappointment. Abou Diaby will almost certainly return in midfield - Arsene Wenger says he wasn't involved on Sunday as he was being over-cautious with him. Over-cautious in a Cup Final? Disgraceful.
Elsewhere we know that Manuel Almunia will return in goal, while Laurent Koscielny and Alex Song have both been ruled out with minor injuries. I realise that we have a lot of games and rotation, where possible (and tonight should certainly fit in to that category), is required but I can't help thinking that Arsenal players are now treated with kid-gloves a bit too much.
I think tonight's team may well look a bit like this:
Almunia - Eboue, Squillaci, Miquel, Gibbs - Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky - Arshavin, Chamakh, Bendtner
If that lot can't beat a third division side at home then there is little hope for them. It is time for the players to step up and show they have some balls and to concentrate fully on what faces them. I am concerned, though, that there is too much focus on the Barcelona game. Yesterday we had announcements from the Club that Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott will miss the second-leg, while Cesc Fabregas could be fit. We have two important games to play before that - what happened to taking each game as it comes? Focus on the task at hand, and then worry about Barcelona after Saturday.

With Manchester United losing last night we are, on paper, in a very good position in the Premier League. It certainly should have lifted spirits all round after Sunday's debacle. We were done a favour by the referee when he failed to send-off David Luiz, but let's not forget that United's goalscorer shouldn't have been on the pitch in the first place. I thought the "controversial" penalty was a stone-waller. Vidic could probably argue that his second-booking was for an innocuous incident, but he really should have walked a couple of minutes earlier for rugby tackling Didier Drogba. The fact that Vidic and Ferdinand will both miss Man Utd's trip to Anfield could make Sunday very interesting. Arsenal have to help themselves before then by beating Sunderland which is no easy task without a number of our best players - a failure to beat the Mackems would render last night fairly irrelevant. If Arsenal can move to within a point of Man Utd on Saturday then I fancy the pressure to tell on a fragile central-defence potentially coming face to face with Andy Carroll on Sunday.

That's your lot for today.

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