So Villa come to town off the back of what can only be described as an incredibly shocking season. I mean, they haven’t had it good over the past few years, but they’ve never really been in danger of dropping. However, under the guidance of Paul Lambert, they’re looking every inch the doomed club. I feel for Paul, I think he’s a good manager… I just think he bit off more than he could chew with this job. He should have stayed with Norwich for a few more seasons.
Anyway, we’ll have more on Villa in the guest post piece below. I want to talk about Arsenal. This is a major, major game… arguably bigger than the Bayern game because of the impending importance of the fixture after… which is Spurs away. Beating Blackburn was important so we could take something resembling confidence into the Bayern game… that didn’t happen, we lost to Bayern. That’s why this game is a massive worry, because we need three confident points to stand a chance next week.
I watched Spurs against Lyon in the week. Adebayor looked motivated and charged up, Gareth Bale is in an inspired run of form and they’re team overall looks pretty compact. AVB has worked on their play off the ball, he’s brought structure and and planning to the side and they’re reaping the rewards at the moment. I still don’t think they’re a better side… but considering they spend £60m less a season on wages, they’re doing alright. They’re still in Europe and the winds of progress are blowing firmly in their directions.
If we win today… then next week, the gap will have shut significantly. If we drop points today, next week will look even more daunting and we could find ourselves out of all cups and the run for fourth place by early March. That really will be a tragedy.
Arsene Wenger is still talking nonsense in the press each week. I can’t work out whether he’s bluffing or he’s totally deluded. Whatever it is, taken at face value he doesn’t think we’re that far away from Bayern Munich.
“We are not so far when people think at the moment from Bayern. We need to be intelligent and strong in this period and keep a guideline of what we have done until now. Strengthen the team where in the positions we feel we are a bit weaker. But we have a basis of a team that is very strong for me.”
How can we make up the ground?
“It costs a lot of money*, it costs intelligent work,”
Hmmm… it doesn’t cost a lot of money to do the basics right Arsene.
When pushed on players, he said the following.
“I think, now, we are in a stronger situation where, like you say, we can spend some money,”
“We went out to spend money at Christmas but we didn’t find the players. If we find tomorrow a player of top, top, top quality, we will take him.”
Would you buy Falcao for loads of cash?
“We can do it. If we can afford it, we will not say no.”
When asked if he had an issue spending out…
“I’m not reluctant to spend,”
First of all, we only had money recently. *Secondly, in England there is a way of thinking that every problem is sorted out just by spending money but that’s not always the case.”
Can we afford to keep our best players?
“Yes, of course,”
Could we resist buyers?
“You can only keep your best players, let’s be realistic, by paying the wages of the market.”
So above, you have all the ingredients you normally find spread across a transfer window.
1. We haven’t had money in the past (Even though it’s been pretty clear for the last 4 years there’s been plenty)
2.We have money to spend now (he said this two seasons ago… ‘we can compete with Chelsea’)
3. He said he’ll sign top top quality if he can find it
4. He said he can’t find top top quality
5. He’s said we could sign a £40m player
6. He said problems aren’t sorted with money
7. He said the only way to catch Bayern is with money
I mean honestly… the man is an absolute nightmare. I’ve gone through the clubs issues at length all week, I can’t be bothered to this morning, I think his contradictory press conferences are enough for you to chew through this morning.
All we need out there today is a win. We can’t afford to take Villa lightly and we can’t afford to sit in reverse gear until late into the second half. I hope we get a performance out there today… we desperately need one. It’s going to be freezing, sadly, I’m expecting to see loads of empty seats dotted around the ground. Not as many as there will be if we don’t win out next two games.
Anyway… fancy reading something from a good pal of mine who is a Villa fan? Why not. Here’s Tom… his e-mail was titled ‘Villa are sh*t’… enjoy and follow him on Twitter.
Guest Post – Villa
This fixture last season produced a routinely comfortable hammering of Villa. This was back in the dark days of Alex McLeish, who considered a thorough 3-0 defeat to a ‘top 4’ team a significant achievement. Big ‘Eck didn’t send his teams out to win; he sent them out to lose by a respectable margin. So cut to a year later, and we’re in an even worse position. Some how. However, there is nowhere near the disdain for Paul Lambert that there was in bile-filled bucket loads for McLeish, probably because we actually try to win games now. The only problem is – we’re not very good at it.
You’ll hear about how Villa generally aren’t playing as badly as their results suggest, and that’s partly true, although shipping 15 goals in 3 games without
reply is hardly an indicator of great quality. We’re coming off the back of a rare victory over West Ham, but that seems like an awfully long time ago now, and I
would worry that the team’s collective short term memory of how to win games, is as underdeveloped as their ability to adequately defend set pieces.
This Villa side fold like a house cards at the first sign of trouble, and even Arsenal on a bad day have plenty to tear apart our feeble defence. Arsenal fans should
brace themselves for a goal fest if Lambert sends the team out with 3 at the back; a bizarre preference he insists on returning to, despite the fact that the team
look much more solid, comfortable and dynamic in a 4-4-2. Gabby Agbonlahor should be back from injury, which is good news for us, and not so good news for
Per Mertesacker’s ability to turn, and obviously Christian Benteke is a match for the toughest of premier league defences (and someone you really don’t want to
see in a Spurs shirt next season). Charles N’zogbia has suddenly started to look like a man who actually accepts the fact he plays football for a living, albeit with
all the gusto of a nightclub toilet cleaner. Still, his undoubted quality represents one of the few remaining strands of hope we’re clinging onto to somehow drag us out of the relegation quicksand. And although this isn’t necessarily a game we would expect to win, sooner or later that ‘do or die’ mentality surely has to kick in. And let’s face it, stranger things have happened. After all, we did both lose to Bradford City.