Well, who’d have thought it? Yes, the Baggies were poor on their own patch, but it was something close to normal service restored at The Hawthorns last night with a good 3-1 win.
Nicklas Bendtner continued the good form he showed when coming on as a substitute against the Cottagers at the Grove last weekend with two good goals to add to Kolo Touré’s effort. Unfortunately, normal service being resumed also meant slinging a silly goal away from a free-kick which did NOT amuse Manuel Almunia. Oh dear. Let’s hope we can keep the shut-outs whilst pouring on the goals in the next few weeks.
Time to forget about the League for a while now. Next up is Burnley at home in the FA Cup on Sunday. We need total effort and concentration on this match. No other considerations should be entertained until it’s over. I expect Lukasz Fabianski to be selected in goal. I’m happy with that. He’s played well enough in his Cup appearances thus far to deserve his chance. I do want to see the strongest possible side selected in the outfield positions however.
I don’t think Burnley will be any pushover. They’ve been going for it in the cup competitions this season. Let’s not forget they very nearly had Spurs out of the Carling Cup in the semi-finals despite losing 4-1 at the Lane. They deserve to be taken seriously. Having established a good unbeaten run in all competitions since losing to Porto away last December we now need to really roll out our customary Spring offensive if we’re to pick up silverware and Champions League qualification in May.
Five days out at the Burnley match is still not sold out and is on general sale having been offered first to silver and red members. Burnley has sold its allocation (it’s taken just over five thousand tickets). There’s been some slackening of demand for matchday tickets this season. It would be interesting to know how many season ticket holders exercised their right to “opt out” of this match. I still adore the FA Cup personally, but I know it’s lost a lot of its shine for many Gooners. I hope the game sells out, I really do, but I understand why it might not. The club’s decision to freeze season ticket and matchday prices next season is welcome but many of us may simply have no choice but to cut back or completely give up going to matches if we lose our jobs which so many have already done.
Talking of the FA Cup, there are media reports that Setanta and ITV are trying to re-negotiate their £425 million, four season deal to cover the FA Cup and England home matches. Not good news for the FA. The new deal lifted some of the gloom at Soho Square that followed England not qualifying for last summer’s European Championships.
Amidst all the economic gloom let’s hope our beloved Arsenal can provide us with some much-needed joy in the coming couple of months.
Keep the faith!