INJURY GREMLINS – OUT, DEMONS, OUT!

They’ve struck again. It looks like Cesc Fàbregas will be out for up to three weeks with a hamstring problem. He’ll certainly miss tonight’s game against Celtic and probably Saturday’s game at Old Trafford. Great. We really don’t get a break with injuries, do we?  
Arsčne Wenger is copping a fair amount of flack from some Gooners for risking Cesc when he was carrying a hamstring tweak last weekend against Pompey. I can see their point, but hindsight is always perfect. If Cesc had been rested along with Nicklas Bendtner, Bacary Sagna, Alex Song and Gaël Clichy and we’d have lost we’d have never heard the end of it.  
Let’s be thankful for small mercies. After Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford there’s an international week so at least Cesc and the other crocks will have additional recovery time.  
We need to put the gremlins out of our minds and concentrate on a professional performance against Celtic tonight. Queen of the South has always been my Scottish team (the first match I ever saw in Scotland was at Palmerston Park in Dumfries, home of the mighty Doonhamers. I fell in love with the area, the town and the club, a wonderful name for a football team and a town). I confess that if I have any leanings in terms of the Old Firm it’s to Celtic. I still remember that fabulous 1967 team which won the European Cup in such style with a team constructed of players all from Glasgow or the surrounding area (seven of the side which beat Internazionale in Lisbon were born and brought up within walking distance of Parkhead). I’m sure that will never happen again. People forget now that they very nearly did it again in 1970, reaching the final in Milan but finishing runners-up to Feyenoord, losing 2-1 to goals from Rinus Israël and Ove Kindvall in the San Siro.   
Tonight however there’s only one result I want – a good professional win. No last minute dramas please! Even in the unlikely event that we bomb out of the Champions League (but let’s have no complacency. We’ve stood on our collective crank like that before), we’ll still be listening in to a European draw. If we were to dip out we’d drop into the group stage of the Europa League.  
The draw for the Champions League takes place in Monte Carlo tomorrow Thursday 27 August 2009 at 5.00pm BST. The draw for the Europa League also takes place in Monte Carlo but the following day Friday 28 August at 12.00pm midday BST.  
Last night’s Carling Cup tie at Upton Park versus Millwall was depressing. Several hundred kicked off before, during and after the game including three pitch invasions. Some of the video footage was like a Mad Max film. I’m often a big critic of the police. In this case however I can’t see any blame attaching to them. Here you have two groups of people absolutely determined to cause as much mayhem as possible. How is this the fault of the Babylon? We’ll get all the usual pat, hang ‘em and flog ‘em responses. If it were that easy to solve this problem which blights the whole of our society, not just football, somebody would have discovered it by now. Round my way, Holloway Road and Upper Street are often war zones at the weekend.  
Why do they do it? Don’t look for complicated explanations. It’s simple. They enjoy it. A lot. Any solution has to be based on that depressing fact.  
Keep the faith!
 

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