A decent if slightly frustrating win on Saturday against Birmingham City. We really should have put the game away easier than we did. We also conceded another sloppy goal for which I think William Gallas and Vito Mannone have to take equal shares of the blame.

Despite Mannone making another mistake, not asserting himself sufficiently for the Brum goal I’d still select him ahead of Manuel Almunia for tomorrow night’s Champions League game in the Netherlands. I think he’s more likely to be a game-winner or game-saver for us. I expected Arsčne Wenger, who is usually fairly conservative in team selection, to pick Almunia over Mannone. I’m pleased I was wrong. I have no animus towards Almunia, an intelligent man who has always tried his very best for us. I just think that Mannone shows more promise as an above-average ‘keeper than him.
The injury curse has struck yet again with Theo Walcott all but ruled out of tomorrow night’s game having had to be taken off on Saturday just after the half hour. Still, Carlos Vela should be available for selection after his long trans-Atlantic flight back from Mexico’s World Cup qualifiers. I’m looking for a win tomorrow night against AZ Alkmaar. Without any arrogance on our part we should be well capable of sowing up top spot in this group ASAP so we can concentrate our efforts on the League and the FA Cup when it rolls around in January again.
Andrey Arshavin has been giving out again in the media about the new top-earners’ income tax rate in Britain. He’s probably right that it will deter some foreign players from coming to our shores. I actually think the plunge in the Sterling exchange rate against the Euro and to a lesser extent the US Dollar is a bigger problem. With the state of the public finances neither problem is likely to abate in the near future so we’re just going to have to live with it. I understand the natural tendency to go where the pay is best. I’ll be honest though and say I can’t really comprehend the difference between taking home £175,000 a month and £225,000 a month except one is a lot and the other even more. I’ll never be faced with that choice so I’m not really qualified to give an opinion, except how I feel NOW in the abstract is I’d choose what suited me best in terms of where I wanted to play rather than who was offering the most take-home pay. In the real world however I’ve no doubt the players will go where the biggest post-tax pay cheque is.
Keep the faith!

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