Well Arsenal started 2007 with a comprehensive 4-0 over Charlton Athletic which was great because that idiot Pardew was moaning about it afterwards. Simple pleasures eh?
But of course it marked the return of The King Thierry Henry who simply ran riot by scoring the first, setting up the second and then winning the penalty for the third – coupled with the flair and skill on display that night it was easily a Man of the Match performance from the captain.
Whether the spell on the sidelines was due to injury or simply rest, Arsene has got what he wanted which was a fully-fit and focused Henry who is ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the Premiership and the rest of Europe – which can only lead to good things.
After the poor end to the year with the 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United it turns out that 9 points from a possible 12 wasn’t that bad after all, with Liverpool returning the same total and Chelsea only getting 6 points over the Christmas period – although United did extend their lead at the top by earning 10 points from a possible 12.
But as with most things in football things change – usually very quickly – and 2007 looks like it could be a good second half to the season. We’re still unbeaten at the Emirates, we started the year by win 4-0 and playing some brilliant football, and the injuries seem to be clearing up…
With Henry returning on Tuesday night, it now appears that Julio Baptista, William Gallas and Theo Walcott are all close to a return and could be available for the Carling Cup match against Liverpool on Tuesday. Eboue is ready to play against Liverpool tomorrow in the FA Cup, the almost fogotten man Lauren is also ready to play and Dance-master Adebayor should be back for the Blackburn Rovers game on the 13th (unlucky for them eh?).
Freddie Ljungberg is almost back to full fitness and Abou Diaby has returned to full training after his horrific ankle break last May. His progress has pleased the manager and it will please the Arsenal fans as he hopefully progresses into the physical presence in midfield that we are sometimes lacking. Good luck to the lad.
Tomorrow’s travel up to Liverpool for the FA Cup looks like a tough game especially with Robin Van Persie and Cesc both serving a one-match suspension for the tie.
Arsenal have done well in the FA Cup in the Wenger-era but most of our injured players won’t be back for another week or so. Flamini looks set to replace Fabregas in midfield and there are rumours that Van Persie could be replaced by Baptista in attack, although I would expect Arsene to go with a 4-5-1 formation and give Flamini support in the middle – especially against Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso.
And even though Liverpool will be with a full strength team I still fancy Arsenal to progress into the 4th round. Henry is back (and will hopefully play) and Liverpool are a side that actually play football as opposed to bullying teams. Futhermore, Benitez doesn’t seem to know what his strongest frontline actually is.
Kuyt, Bellamy, Crouch and Fowler have all been inconsistent and that might help Arsenal tomorrow. But with Steven Gerrard Liverpool always have that goal-threat with his surging runs from midfield so Gilberto will have to be on his best form to shut him out.
I’m not the best at these but I’ll stick my neck out and say we’ll nick it 2-1!