Arsene Wenger is 65 today. Hooray!
And like this day last year, it falls on a Champions League Matchday, Day 3 again. Same Arsenal team – almost – but with a more different feel to this one, that of great expectation. Jurgen Klopp’s men somewhat ruined that night at the Emirates with Robert Lewandoski’s last minute tap in from a counter. Still, it wasn’t a terrible result as we had won the previous two group games against Marseille and Napoli, plus the pleasure of seeing our club at the top of the League table.
It’s been a strange, different, inauspicious season, this.
Wenger could afford a birthday defeat last year, but he may be in real danger of having a ruined year if he gets same gift today. Having started off on a rather forgettable note in Dortmund, the impressive win against Galatasaray was very needed and was handsomely achieved. Now, away at Belgium, we even need a victory more. Managers are wont to say that there’s a different approach to the different competitions in a season, but for the Gooner on the street, every Arsenal game counts as much. That means we all expect the Anderlecht game to be a rectification of the quite under par turn out last weekend against Hull. After a brilliant start which saw us take a 13th minute lead, there was nothing else to cheer other than the 89th minute equalizer…
…and that we have a player like Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean is gradually shaping himself into the figure we should all have to look up to if we are to ascend the heights to which we’ve set our sights this season. In a period where we suffer more injuries than a nation pillage by a nuclear catastrophe, we could do with one outstanding player to take us through the troughs and bring joy to those on the terraces.
Ramsey was that man last season, but he hasn’t quite being the same player this term. That doesn’t mean Wenger wouldn’t be chuffed to have him available for this win-or-burst game. The Welsh star has spoken of there still being a possibility of winning things this season and you wonder if that includes the Champions League, if you consider what some teams did yesterday.
The recurrence of injuries will continue to have a say in our seasons, with Ospina now the 4th to be ruled out for at least 3 months this season. Wenger has had to call up 17 year old Ryan Huddart to stay on the bench, in case Damian Martinez puts up a Woj moment. Yet, we must fancy enough of what we have being able to get all 3 points from Anderlecht and if we are going to keep being seeded in the first pots, we’ve got to show it againts teams like this, home and away.
The pressure of the return fixture in a fortnight will be significantly less if we did our job today. Wenger would want the best birthday gift possible today, his players must know this, and should deliver it, without reserve.
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