Think Forward...

A hearty hello to you all on yet another nipple-freezer-offer sunny day in New York. We've managed to muddle through another useless, FIFA-money-grabbing interlull without our usual spate of injuries, and we've got a bit to look forward to this weekend, so let's jump right in, shall we?

First off, I'm not going to waste paragraphs on the Newcastle result. Sean's already recapped it in detail, although we don't see exactly eye-to-eye on all of the particulars, but he covered everything. And I've already discussed the match for longer and with more people than I care to recall, but what I keep returning to is that it's in the past, there's nothing to be done for it, let's put it behind us and hope that Arsenal do the same. Life doesn't stop because you got a crap result, we're still in with a shout in all four competitions. Complaining that "Ohhh, we could have been just 2 points back on United!" is silly in the extreme. Going into last weekend, I don't know if there was a (rational) supporter alive who really liked Wolves' chances against United, meaning that even if we had won at Tyneside, we'd have remained 5 points back and United would still be pretending to be Invincibles. Instead, we got a lousy draw, but wonder of wonders, United lost to Wolves, so we actually picked up a point on the leaders. Stop your bitching and enjoy what you have rather than pining for what you don't have.

I will make the following points about the Newcastle match before dropping the topic. First, we were absolute dynamite in the first half, and that is not to be forgotten. When we're on-song, as we were for the first 45, we're as dangerous as any team in the world. Second, Abou Diaby should know better than to do what he did, and if he's going to react like that every time someone makes a bad tackle, he's better off going to Barcelona now than in the future (and you though Hleb had no chance there). Third, as Diaby was rightly sent off, Barton should have had more than 2 yellows, and Nolan should have been sent off for his headlock takedown of Szczesny. Phil Dowd made it absolutely clear who he thought should win this match, and even gave the home side two completely undeserved penalties. While we were soft in defense, I do believe the officials' calls had a part to play there, affecting what our defenders thought they could do without getting whistled for a foul or penalty. As it turned out, there wasn't much we COULD do without Dowd's interference. Other supporters will no doubt accuse me of being biased, and I'm sure I am, to a degree. But I defy you to watch that match on your own and see if you can spot the fair calls. Finally, the drop in quality from Djourou to Squillaci certainly hindered us, but at 4-0 up, with Djourou picking up a knock you withdraw him then EVERY TIME. While I question the other substitutions later in the match, Arsene made the right move there. And to those who are still moaning about not signing a central defender last month: it's done. Get over it. This is your team, get behind them or stay home.

Okay, glad that's out of the way. As the mercifully brief interlull didn't seem to have the chance to put half of our players in triage, we can look forward to our own clash with Wolves (who more than anything restored my mood on Saturday), this one at the Grove. We had a tightly contested match at Molineux already that we won with goals at the very beginning and the very end from Marouane Chamakh, but also required Lukasz Fabianski to play the game of his life. While we do have RVP back for this one, and won't miss Fabianski as much having Szczesny in goal, Wolves have made themselves into giant-killers this season. We'll have to hope that we're able to break them down early, since Wolves have had a knack of holding out for long stretches, many of their defeats coming on late goals (much like this fixture last season). There's surely no reason to think we won't take the points, but there is also no reason to think it will be easy. If "Lazy Arsenal" come out and expect Wolves to lay down and surrender, we could very well face a shock. As Arsene pointed out in his pre-match interview, it's probably better that we had that interlull to get the players out and away from the team for a few days; hopefully no one will be dwelling on last weekend and the lads come into this one fresh and ready to fight anew.

So far, apart from the still-injured Vermaelen, we will have Rosicky and Diaby shelved for this match. Djourou and Song are both anticipated to pass fitness tests (although with Barca coming up, I doubt either will start this match). We also have Cesc and Robin recovering from a strain of Internationals flu, so they should be available as well. I anticipate we'll line up as so:

Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy
Denilson, Wilshere
Walcott, Fabregas, Arshavin
Van Persie

I know, I'm looking at Squillaci and Denilson in there and worrying like mad as well. But this is a team firmly in the drop zone, and if we can't rotate the squad a bit here then we don't really deserve to win, in my opinion.

I've got nothing to add right now regarding Barcelona and our upcoming showdown with them. I will say that per Arseblog, I did read the Guardian interview with Xavi, and apart from the bit when he talks about Cesc and how he had no part in trying to unsettle him, he doesn't come off as a complete asshole.

In any event, enjoy yourselves this weekend. I won't be making it to the Blind Pig tomorrow as I have a prior engagement, but for those who are, sing up and be proud. We are Arsenal, and whether you want to like to admit it, we are moving forward. Keep it goonery.