Although Robin is clearly the in-form front man in Europe at the moment, I have to say it wasn’t his performance that pleased me most on Saturday; it was our central 3 midfield players. Although our defence has been and continues to be a serious concern, up until Chelsea I had been really disappointed with the Alex Dimitri Song Billong, Arteta and Ramsey axis. Perhaps the disjointed underwhelming creative displays we had seen were the most we could expect from a trio including a new signing, a 20 year old who has been out for a year, and the loss of Wilshere. Stamford Bridge was different. They finally showed the kind of balance, shape, understanding and work rate that for whatever reason was missing against Blackburn and Sp*rs. More worrying beforehand was the apparent lack of creativity that we have become so used to seeing from central players over the last 20 years. I know I’m not alone in being surprised by how deep Arteta has been playing, putting a lot more pressure on Ramsey, but in one of the greatest tests of his career to date he rose to the occasion.
Arsene seems to agree:
‘We speak about Robin Van Persie but Aaron was out for one year when he was just getting into the first team. That is tremendous. It is completely normal that he improves now because he is young. And there is still a lot of improvement for him’.
‘Secondly he is back to his full physical potential which is huge. We see that when we analyse the games’.
In other news Silent Stan, after a few less than impressive words at the AGM last week, made another rare appearance this time in the dressing room giving what looks like a lecture to the whole squad. I have to say the fact that the pictures were put up on the official site makes it seem like an obvious PR move by a man who has recently been criticised for his lack of communication with the fans. I guess any communication is better than none at all. I wouldn’t have thought the players really care what he has to say.
Onto Marseille tonight and the team news is good. Jenkinson and Vermaelen are fit and ready to play if called upon. Chamakh has a small knee problem and Benayoun is back in the squad. When asked if he will rotate
‘I have not decided yet, I have not picked the team’.
I think he will. Having seen the way Marseille performed in France we can expect to see a few new faces brought in before the visit of West Brom on the weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arshavin, Rosicky, Benayoun if he’s fit enough and maybe even Park after his goal against Bolton. It’s been a big shock for me how badly Borussia Dortmund have fared after their impressive showing against us in the opening game. From this position we really should top the group, something we failed to do last year and paid the price.
Just to finish off a little observation. Does anyone else think that Andre Santos is fast becoming the new Eboue? The crazily relaxed approach in extremely dangerous situations, the dance moves and the all round irrational jocular behaviour suggest we may have another cult hero on our hands…
Let’s hope for 3 points tonight.