The fun(!) of the international break is over and, as usual, we’re left counting the cost in terms of injuries. For tomorrow’s away fixture at Carrow Road we’ll be without Koscielny (knee injury) and Walcott (bruised lung). Koscielny picked up his knock in training and although it seemed to be a very minor issue, he won’t be ready for another week. Walcott, on the other hand, was the victim of a mugging by the San Marino keeper during the week, despite the fact he had left his wallet in the changing room. If I was vaguely interested in international football, I might be able to be philosphical about such injuries. But I’m not, so I can’t be, unlike the manager who reckons that statistically-speaking, two injured players per break is normal.
He has also made an interesting observation, which the conspiracy theorists and armchair psychologists among you might choose to regard as a subtle piece of mind games aimed at our opponents tomorrow:
“The most dangerous [thing] when you are a football player is to play against players of a lower level, because that’s where you feel in most trouble. If they hit you, they don’t do it on purpose – but they are the most dangerous. Sometimes, when you go down a level, that’s what you face.”
Of course, he may simply have been referring to the San Marino keeper. Or that Shawcross bastard.
In any case, tomorrow will be a tricky fixture against a Norwich side who will feel they have underachieved so far this season. The fact that they haven’t yet won a league fixture suggests they haven’t bothered to get off the team coach rather than underachieved. But Hughton the ex-spud is a proud football man, who has done well to dispel the notion that good first team coaches don’t make good managers. So we can expect the carrot-munching, mustard-loving, Shrieking Delia-supported canaries to work hard to frustrate us and keep the grafting 30-year old yeoman that is Holt supplied with plenty of ball in and around the box.
Having said that, I think we should win. We are without Theo and Kozza as mentioned, Diaby is still out and it’s still too early for Jack who may make a brief appearance off the bench. But Podolski and Giroud were certainly not overworked during the internationals, and The Gorgeous Frenchman scored as well, so hopefully he’ll carry his form into this game. No doubt Norwich will work very hard to close down Cazorla as early and as often as possible. Santos will play in place of Gibbs, and if he can link up well with Podolski down the left, it may help to provide other attacking options should Cazorla be frustrated. Of course the flip side is that whoever else is in midfield – Ramsey and Arteta I should imagine – will have to keep an eye on the left back position everytime Andre goes galloping off into the East Anglian twilight in search of the net.
Finally, I’m trying to be very optimistic that Vito and his big face can keep up the good work and keep Norwich out. The new defensive focus in the side and the change in training methods have certainly worked in his favour – if ever you were forced to field your third choice keeper, you’d like it to coincide with something of a defensive renaissance. I’m sure you’re aware that poor old Fabianski has done his ankle ligaments and is out until the New Year. At this stage, with the litany of injuries he and Chesney have been collecting, you might be forgiven for thinking that Goalkeeper is the new Full Back. The difference is when we had four full backs out last season we drafted in centre halves to play in their place. If Vito picks up a knock we can’t do the same thing, so we’d be looking at Martinez to start and Shea on the bench… so let’s hope I haven’t put the hex on Vito, then.
Right, I’m off for bedtime stories. Cheers.
Up The Arse!