Lehmann Standing Amongst the Gore
It’s mid-way through the week and, I must say, it’s refreshing to go without Champions League action, or cup ties for a change. Since the new year began we’ve been playing two games a week and if I feel this exhausted by it, as a fan watching from the comfort of my own home, I can only imagine how our players feel.
The big task ahead for us is the Premier League; it’s the only competition of which we are still a part and the sole focus of our energies. Taking a look at the upcoming fixture list we have an opportunity to put in a good run through the end of March all the way to Easter:
Of course ManU come up on the first of May, making for what could be a rocky start to a tense month, but we’ll ignore that for now.
In any event, we’ve got West Brom this Saturday and I think this is a game we have to win. Our meeting back in September left a sour taste in the mouth, being our first loss of the season. It seemed to kick-start that strange period in October and November where nothing we did seemed to go right or come up fully satisfying. A 3-2 loss at home is hard to take, especially against WBA (no offense to the fan of that club). We need to take the bull by the horns and really crash through their defense in order to put it out there that we are still in it to win. I, as an Arsenal fan, need this result and I think the players need it as well.
The biggest issue we face at the moment is that we still have a staggering injury list. Of the players out we will likely miss Djourou most, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the 2-0 defeat last weekend in the FA Cup. There is no indication yet when he will be ready to play, if in fact he is able to return at all this season (the Swiss national team seem to have underestimated the seriousness of the injury in saying he should be ready to play by the end of the month). Cesc will likely miss the game with a hamstring problem, as will Walcott due to an injured ankle. Song is another who will be sorely missed as he’s out with a knee injury and I’m not too pleased when Denilson has to step on the pitch. The official site says that he’ll miss the West Brom match and beyond that who knows.
The single worst thing that happened at the Barcelona Champions League tie, in my opinion, is the injury to Szczesny. He has a dislocated finger caused by, of all things, catching the ball (isn’t that what he does day in day out?). So our current best keeper is out for up to six weeks and that leaves us with our #3, Almunia, as the only senior keeper left. This is, of course, a situation we certainly did not want to find ourselves in, but being in it we have to recover somehow. This constitutes an emergency in the minds of many gooners and Wenger would agree and, as such, he’s very close to signing Jens Lehmann, retired keeper and member of Arsenal’s Invincibles squad, to a temporary contract for the remainder of the Premier League season. There has been mixed reaction to this, since Lehmann left under less than ideal circumstances, not to mention the fact that he’s 41 years old, but overall I think Arsenal supporters believe it to be a positive move for the club. I’m looking forward to seeing him get a chance in goal, though I know he’s just being signed to provide cover for Almunia should another injury come along. I think his presence will go far in the locker room, even if he doesn’t make it onto the pitch (he’s completely mad, of course, and who wants to mess with that?).
Alright, so that’s about it for now. Stay tuned for an update on the injury situation and, in the meantime, work up your nerves for the game on Saturday.