I was not optimistic going into Sunday's game, we have massive injury problems, our squad is down to the barest of bones, our form is poor and consequently confidence is low, and then I heard that the hapless and compliant Mike Dean is to referee the game, I no longer have much room for optimism. This ACLF article talking about shoddy Mirror journalism and low quality refereeing is well worth a read.
Our defense has been absolutely decimated by an unfortunate series of injuries; Sagna, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Santos, Coquelin and Gibbs are all still out for Sunday, meaning that we don't have many options, it is likely that Djourou and Miguel will continue in the full back slots. These novice full backs need help from the midfield and forwards, the likes of Arshavin and Walcott need to pull their overpaid fingers out, work harder and do their fair share of the defensive work, and not just leave our full backs to fend for themselves.
The other big blow is that Arteta remains out, he has been a lynchpin in our midfield so far this season, he has played with real discipline and tenacity, so when he is not there we have missed him. We also lack any quality combative backup in the squad with Frimpong out on loan and Coquelin injured. I am not sure how wise it was to send Emmanuel Frimpong on loan, we could have done with him against Fulham, Swansea and Manu. LeGrove have a point about players like Lansbury, a midfield fighter who would add so much more than a Benayoun or Rosicky.
Manu are still a strong side but very suspect defensively, I just doubt our ability to take them apart as we could have done if we had a fit first eleven. With Vidic out and no decent goalkeeper, as well as their lack of a proper quality right back, they are vulnerable at the back. Again I doubt it will happen, but I would prefer to see the Ox start, Arshavin has been woeful all season and his work rate has been poor. It's a big game for Walcott to prove his doubters wrong, his recent form has been poor and he needs to do something on Sunday.
On the topic of the transfer window, I do not think that is easy to go out and restructure our squad in January, however to claim that our squad is good enough and has the right balance is simply daft as well, I don't think either extreme of argument makes sense. As I talked about earlier in the week, we have too many underperforming players in the squad, this needs to be dealt with but it will be hard to do much in January. The likes of Fabianski, Squillaci, Rosicky, Arshavin, Chamakh, Denilson, Bendtner et al need to be cleared out as soon as we can.
Mike Dean is useless and he is refereeing tomorrow, it is virtually guaranteed that we will not get a penalty, we will get booked for minor fouls and he will do his best to wreck the game with his unique brand of refereeing incompetence. Dean has already missed clear penalties for us against Fulham, a game in which he failed to send off Senderos for a blatant second yellow card when he took out Gervinho when clean through on goal, Dean also missed Van der Vaart's blatant handball which helped him scored Tottenham's opening goal.
Something I have frequently talked about is the PGMO, the body that runs refereeing, and the completely hidden process by which refs are selected for PL games, it is blatantly open to corruption. This excellent piece from UntoldArsenal makes a point that I have frequently made, some very strange decisions seem to be being made by the PGMO and there appears to be a clear bias in the way in which officials are selected. The mainstream media have completely failed to get to grips with this issue, there are too many lazy journalists who are happy to reproduce the same old tired cliches without bothering to do any proper thinking or investigative work. Anyway come on you Gunners!