I had the radio in my ear when the draw was about to get started last night. My only real hope was that we would be pulled out first given us home advantage, whatever followed that would have been just fine. So it was even more of a relief to be facing a Championship side. This is where I am supposed to qualify that with a statement explaining how I mean no disrespect and how we can't take them lightly etc but I won't. Because it's obvious that we would want to face a lesser side than a stronger one, seems like common sense to me. I expect whichever team that faces them on that day to give everything they have to win the game just as they should do against the likes of Manchester United or Liverpool.
While it may well be a little early to be bigging up our form after 4 victories in a row, I still think it is worth pointing out that we are achieving these results with most of our squad fit and healthy. Coincidence?
I should really stop mentioning this but it gets my goat how missing so many good players gets such short shrift by so many people as if it is just excuse making.
Anyway, I will refrain from going down that road because I don't want to send you to sleep or indeed myself. Our squad will get even heavier in the next few hours I'd imagine as Gabriel has been granted his work permit so it is probably just a case of dotting i's and crossing t's *At the time of writing*
You'd expect him to go straight into the squad against Aston Villa on the weekend, more than likely on the bench. He will need a few weeks of training with the team and getting used to playing the way Arsene wants him to play. That said, it could be rather different if either Koscielny or Mertesacker have any injury issues, especially for the former.
With the signing of Gabriel and the resurgence of Coquelin the squad has a more complete feel about it now. So much so that keeping players happy and committed to the club could prove to be an issue. That seems to be the case with Chuba Akpom. The youngster is coming to the end of his deal and it seems as if he has many options which is why he has not committed himself as yet. There is talk of teams abroad like Borussia Dortmund and the like hoping he will sign for them but today there was talk of Liverpool showing interest.
I can totally understand why he wouldn't want to rush and resign for us. Our attack is pretty heavy with Giroud, Welbeck and Alexis all ahead of him for that central role. Walcott, Santi, Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all options for wide spots in the team. The queue looks too long for him, where as if you look at Liverpool they have an out of favour forward and a veteran from Southampton. The path to first team football looks rather more promising at Anfield than it does for us.
I like the look of Akpom though. Thought he showed some good promise against Brighton at the weekend. Seems to have a lot of the ingredients of a top striker. If he had the patience, I think he could get a chance this or next season. Sadly with his contract coming to and end, I don't see it happening.
Right gotta shoot off, time to play footy in the freezing cold.
The Podcast will be recorded tonight (not yesterday) I promise. Arseblog is the special guest, you might know him. Brighton, form and the new boys will be on the agenda.
Hopefully it will be up tomorrow.