More than 48 hours before kick-off and I’m already feeling tense ahead of the Chelsea derby game on Sunday. Thomas Vermaelen is already trying to hedge against the worst by saying we can still win the title even if we lose on Sunday. Emmm, I don’t know about that.
Notoriously, saying a team’s championship chances will stand or fall on one game this early in the season is fraught with difficulty. Who thought we would catch up to Manchester United in 1998 being so far back in the race as late as February? I do think though that if we lose on Sunday it will make life VERY difficult for us.
That’s especially true if we continue to suffer our current long-running injury curse. This may well deprive us of William Gallas on Sunday, having already cost us both senior left-backs Gaël Clichy and Kieran Gibbs. This provides the manager with a real headache. We can but hope that Mikaël Silvestre, Philippe Senderos, Emmanuel Eboué, Armand Traoré or whoever is selected on Sunday to fill in will be up to the task. I hope so. I have my doubts. I hope I’m proved comprehensively wrong.
The return of Denilson from injury is welcome. Likewise Theo Walcott. I do worry about cover for Alex Song when he goes off to the African Cup of Nations in January in Angola though. He’ll probably miss the FA Cup Third Round, certainly Everton at home and Bolton Wanderers away in the League, the Fourth Round of the FA Cup if we progress in that tournament and Cameroon go through their group (likely, they’re drawn with Tunisia, Gabon and Zambia). If Cameroon goes through to the last four he’ll also miss Manchester United at home in the League. The same absence will apply to Emmanuel Eboué of course (Ivory Coast has Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana in its group, tougher than Cameroon’s draw), but Eboué, much as his form and attitude has improved, is not the vital cog in the wheel that Song has become.
The timing of the African Cup of Nations this season makes signing any potential cover in the transfer window difficult. We’re almost certainly going to have to rely on our current squad.
Still, that’s all for the future. Let’s concentrate on a quality performance on Sunday against Chelsea. We need to do our part in the stands too. Time to REALLY pump up the volume. Make sure you bring your scarf and your vocal chords!
Keep the faith!