Interlull, Injuries and The Bob

Morning all, from another grey, sleep-inducing day in New York. Seems I open with something similar quite often, which I find confusing until I remind myself that it's autumn and autumn here sucks, in spite of what Winona Ryder, Richard Gere and any gerbils would have you believe:

Cinematic lies of the worst kind. In any case, it's rather fitting weather I think for an Interlull which featured a number of our players come back from injury, go out injured, and have small injuries reassessed and determined to be potentially fatal. So, nothing new there, really.

As it turns out Bacary Sagna is expected to miss some time due to a lingering thigh injury; I suspect 90's Irish band The Cranberries, but the powerful Van Morrison lobby is blocking my research. Anyway, Bac is scheduled to miss three weeks, so we should have him back by April. Fingers crossed. We will have Eboue to fill the right back role, which will at least give us some more songs to sing and perhaps some more accurate crosses for our forwards to miss. So that'll be good-ish. The songs will, anyway. Additionally, the manager today revealed that Laurent Koscielny will miss the Birmingham match due to some sort of back problem. For fucksake, even our players who DON'T have international duty come back hurt. No further details on the severity of the injury, but all indications are that Johan Djourou will start the next match, which in itself is pretty severe.

We will expect back both Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner, which will be a boost to us up front at least, particularly if Theo can rediscover the red-hot form he was on before his injury, and if Bendtner can get on the pitch. Arsene seemed very excited about the fitness of Bendtner, although I'm sure there are plenty of Gooners who won't be jumping for joy. I love Big Nick though, so it's good that he's back, same for Theo. At this rate, it's an oddity just to have enough warm bodies to stick on the bench.

And of course, the "small" injuries to Cesc, who was nearly fit for Chelsea two weeks ago, and Vermaelen, who was just short of fitness after the LAST interlull, both remain unresolved. Arsene reports that Tommy V is still "10 days away," which can likely be taken to mean that his amputation is now gangrenous and last rites are being administered. It's rather concerning about Cesc, obviously. A supposedly slight hamstring issue that ought to heal up rather well appears to remain an issue despite 4 weeks out. Given his issues with hamstrings throughout last season (and taking into account the career-threatening hamstring issues experienced by Tomas Rosicky), this is not something to be taken lightly. We're not the same club without Cesc, and despite the emergence of Nasri and Wilshere, we don't have anyone else who can do all of the things that Cesc can do on the pitch. Not to mention we've been without a proper captain for weeks now, and the lacklustre display against the Baggies followed by periods of tepid play at Chelski may have been a bit different had the skipper taken part.

All of this, and we're still missing the permanently-crocked Robin van Persie. I don't know what kind of wages Robin is on, and while I love watching him and while his commitment to the club warms my heart, one has got to wonder if we'll ever get a full season from him, or even 3/4 of a season. The threat that he'd become that superstar if we were to sell him on begins to feel more fantastical with every passing season.

Arsene commented this week on the impressive nature of Aaron Ramsey's speedy recovery, as our young Welshmanis finally out of the training room, kicking the football and running. He's a long way off yet (I'd be surprised to see him in full action until December, personally) but this is some encouraging news. Hopefully he'll come back full speed. Glad to see you back on your feet, Rambo.

We've seen as poor an injury record at Arsenal this season as we did last season, when many of us thought it couldn't get any worse. How foolish of us. It remains a mystery why we are so hard-bitten by the injury bug, while other clubs remain largely unaffected. Is it our training? The players' diets? Some sort of bizarre physiological coincidence that predisposes all of our players to be injury-prone? No one seems to know. All I do know is that I think it is long overdue that we abandon whatever medical practices we have been employing, since our players' injuries only seem to get worse once treated. It is high time we start utilizing voodoo full-time. And for anyone who questions the benefits of this, think about this: Picture Thomas Vermaelen pursuing you as you try to dribble away. Scary, right? Now picture ZOMBIE Thomas Vermaelen pursuing you as you try to dribble away. Fucking terrifying, and he wouldn't stop for an injury, barring a gunshot to the head, for which even Mike Dean would show a yellow card. And it's a lot simpler and cheaper to sacrifice a live rooster than to utilize all those beeping machines and such. Food for thought. Braaaaaaiiiiinnnnssss...

Speaking of people who've had their brains eaten out, Fat Sam Allardyce was shooting his fat gob off in the press again.

We host Birmingham City at the Grove on Saturday, and as we should all be aware, Alex McLeish's side will not lay down and die for Arsenal. If anything, Arsenal will look a bit wounded and vulnerable to opposing sides, coming off of consecutive defeats to WBA and Chelsea. One would assume that Brum will look to come into our house and take at least a point. It's down to our players to prevent that from happening. Cesc was quoted in the press this week saying that Arsenal lack a "winning mentality." I'm not going to favor the haters and demand his head, because he's our captain and because he's right, and because FUCK the Cesc haters. An Arsenal team with a winning mentality would not have capitulated three damned times to West Bromwich Albion, nor would they have hung their heads and played with no urgency for long stretched when down at Stamford Bridge. Cesc has that mentality. Who else in our side does?

I found it disheartening that Arsene was quoted replying to Cesc's statement, and softening the blow a bit:

"As long as you have not won you are not completely certain that you can do it - but that does not mean that you lack the desire to win. This team has a great desire to win, but you have to show it week in week out."

All well and good to say, but I think our players have been protected a bit too much. If the truth stings a bit, they need to be introspective and figure out why don't turn up every single match and give it all. One way or another, they will need to commit 100 per cent, or they should find another club. There is no half-assing it at Arsenal Football Club. That wasn't good enough for Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, David Rocastle, Patrick Vieira, David O'Leary, Alan Smith, Ian Wright or any other Arsenal legends. It shouldn't be good enough for our current crop, who haven't won fuck-all at this club in comparison.

Speaking of Arsenal legends, Robert Pires is in training with the club in an attempt to remain fit. Le Bob is without a club at the moment (having AWESOMELY rejected the Philadelphia Union's offer), and while Le Boss kind of said that we wouldn't sign him, I believe he said similar things when we had Sol Campbell training with us last season, so there's no guarantee. Either way, welcome back Bob... you've been sorely missed. We haven't had a player of his dreaminess since, and I admittedly have a man-crush on Bob Pires. Hell, I think it's gayer NOT to be attracted to Bob.

Finally, with Birmingham's visit to Emirates will be the first reappearance of Alex Hleb at Arsenal since he forced his way out to Barcelona (who still haven't paid up, by the way), only to be benched, loaned to Stuttgart, benched some more, and flogged off to Birmingham. While I think we all enjoyed the delicious schadenfreude as his hubris led ultimately to his abasement and humiliation and other big words, he did admit that he never should have left. So while I'll hope his play contributes to a Brum loss on Saturday, I won't be too hard on him. Although if anyone else wants to have a go, I'm not stopping them.

And we're back, Gooners. Roll on Saturday. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!

As a parting gift, here's a video of Le Bob at his Le Best. Enjoy.