Saturday, 7 May 2011
Stoke City (a) preview, One less thug to worry about
Inevitably the build-up to the game tomorrow has centred on Aaron Ramsey's return to the scene of his terrible injury last season. The fact that the clumping Shawcross will almost certainly be in the Stoke team tomorrow merely adds to the media storyline. Eduardo never got the chance to bury his ghosts at St Andrews as he was an unused substitute on his only return there. Rambo, tomorrow, is set to to start for Arsenal and will be determined to dominate midfield with Song and Wilshere in the same way they did last week. I hope the neanderthals give him a nice reception, rather than singing mindless songs about his injury.
Cesc Fabregas remains on the sidelines (if the rumour mill is to be believed we have seen our last glimpse of him in an Arsenal team). I really don't know if he has a genuine injury. If Arsenal are not playing him in order to ensure collection of £40m+ in June then I'm fine with that - as long as that money is used appropriately (we live in hope). Abou Diaby is also still injured, and Samir Nasri is out following the hamstring niggle he suffered last Sunday.
There is big talk that Thomas Vermaelen will return tomorrow. A week ago I would have said that I didn't want him back in a game against Stoke and their cloggers. However, with Djourou injured the Belgian's presence suddenly becomes imperative. If Djourou had been available we would have had our commanding centre-back. In his absence we are left with the possibility of Squillaci and Koscielny up against the aerial bombardment so I would far rather see the re-introduction of the Verminator.
It will be interesting to see what sort of team Pulis picks for Stoke. The FA Cup Final is less than one week away, the biggest game in the history of the Club. I'm sure the twat in the hat would never forgive himself if they were to (rather ironically, in the circumstances) lose some of their key men to injury against Arsenal. On the other hand Pulis seems to have a deep hatred of Wenger, so he will be looking to balance his wish to defeat Arsenal against the necessity of having a full quota for the Final. I can see Huth and at least one of their forwards being rested tomorrow (and/or Shawcross). He might also want to leave Delap out of the side tomorrow - heaven forbid he should tear a bicep delivering one of those ridiculous missiles in to the Arsenal box.
With the subject of the physical approach fresh in our minds, I am happy to report that football pitches are now a safer place. The reason for this? Robbie Savage has retired from professional football. Savage was everything that is wrong with English football. The press adored him as a "wholehearted trier" (roughly translated as "talentless oaf who went around kicking people.")
Back in the early 1990's Manchester United brought through their golden generation of young players. Among the group that didn't make it at Man Utd was Savage. I suppose, if you think about it, he was Nicky Butt's understudy - that's about as damning as it can get, if you ask me. I will shed no tears over the end of Savage's career. The only shame is that it didn't happen years ago. Unfortunately he seems to have a burgeoning media career - fingers crossed for him to make a Ron Atkinson or Robbie Earle style faux-pas and he can disappear from view for good.
I'll review the match tomorrow night, hopefully. By the way - Happy St Totteringham's Day.