Szczesny returns as Vieira puts the boot in

Wojciech Szczesny makes another save for Arsenal

Chezzer shows Almunia and Fabianski the correct way to deal with a high ball into the box

The good news ahead of our crunch match against Liverpool on Sunday is that Wenger has confirmed Szczesny will play in goal, leaving Lehmann to resume his place on the bench.

We have missed our young Polish prodigy since the Barcelona game – he’d have prevented the two dropped points at West Brom and that could make all the difference to the final table. More importantly, he is better equipped than any of our other keepers to handle Andy Carroll. The lanky England striker stole the points for Newcastle at the Emirates earlier this season by beating Fabianski in the air and although I’m concerned about his superior physical and aerial presence against our centre halves, I feel much more secure knowing that Szczesny will be guarding the net.

Other promising injury news is that Song and Djourou could also feature on Sunday:

“We have plenty of players back, some are short of competitive edge but Johan Djourou and Alex Song are both available and even Thomas Vermaelen is in full training now. There is a good chance [he will play again this season].”

We are close to fielding our strongest eleven now with only Vermaelen and Sagna missing from the team. If we are to have any chance of catching Man Utd we need to keep everybody fit and hope to rediscover some of our goalscoring form from earlier in the season when Nasri and Walcott were banging them in. I think we’ll line up as follows:

Szczesny
Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Eboue
Song, Wilshere, Fabregas
Walcott, van Persie, Nasri

That looks much more like it – plenty of goals in that team and a solid presence in goal, but will they click again or has the Carling Cup trauma done irreparable damage? Well, the last Arsenal captain to lift a trophy doesn’t believe we have the stomach for the title fight. Speaking to L’Equipe, Patrick Vieira said:

“I really enjoy watching them, but they lack the physicality to impose themselves. Arsenal don’t have the killer attitude that a team like Manchester United have. Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Parlour weren’t as good with the ball as the current players, but they put their head where others won’t even put their feet.”

Ouch. Are you listening Arsene? Even one of your most loyal, respectful and famous footballing sons is saying it. Our pampered players may talk a good game off the pitch, but when the going gets tough they shrivel up and don’t want to know. Apart from Wilshere, Fabregas, Vermaelen and maybe van Persie, they lack the spirit and bottle to kill teams off and compete with more physical opponents.

I think Man United will drop a lot of points in the run-in, but they will probably still lift the trophy because we won’t take advantage and that’s what disappoints me most about this season – it’s been a huge missed opportunity. With Man U not the team they were, Chelsea’s pensioners on the decline and City having trouble fitting all their egos into the dressing room, the title was there for the taking this year. Unfortunately Wenger’s policy doesn’t allow for experienced winners to be bought into the team and grind out results, leading by example and providing a role model for the talented but weak youngsters to follow suit.

I hate to be a prophet of doom and there’s still some hope, but I fear we’ll have to settle for another season of success on the balance sheet rather than the pitch. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

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