This weekend is the start of a very important week for Arsenal as they have three league games to play. A return of nine points from a home game against Newcastle and trips to Wolves and Everton would be very welcome indeed, and it would certainly guarantee that Arsenal remain in second place at least.
The manager left a few players behind for the midweek trip to Donetsk, and I think he had those three games in mind when he did. It was a calculated risk in my opinion, and some people might think that it backfired but personally I don't think the result was overly important. The performance may not have been great, but I thought that we should have got a draw with the chances we had in the second half.
Our next Champions League game will be away to Braga in Portugal, and all we need is a draw to qualify for the last 16 with a game in hand. If the worst happens away to Braga and we lose, we will still qualify with a win against Partizan Belgrade in our last game at home. I don't think it will come to having to win that game, but if it does, I have no doubt that we will get the required result.
I suppose the manager's gamble will be judged on Sunday week after the trip to Everton when Arsenal's points haul from those three games will be known. It's important that we start those games with a win, and the visit of Newcastle to the Emirates on Sunday is an ideal opportunity for the players to put right Wednesday night's reversal. Arsenal may have beaten them 4-0 in the Carling Cup just last week, but I'm sure it will be a different team that makes the trip to the Emirates.
I will be very surprised if Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Laurent Koscielny, Bakari Sagna and Maraoune Chamakh don't start on Sunday. That tells us that Arsenal did indeed play a weakened team on Wednesday night, and it makes the result just a little easier to take.
One player who did play on Wednesday night was Theo Walcott and the speed he showed to break clear of the defenders and score his goal was fantastic. When he joined the club, we were told that he was faster than Thierry Henry in sprints and he showed that pace on Wednesday night.
Quite often in the past he has shown that pace but had no end product to go with it. He took his goal really well, and he is now our joint top scorer in all competitions this season despite how much time he has missed with injuries.
Let's hope he gets a little bit of space to operate in for the next three games, and if so, he will probably be our leading scorer so far this season.
After the Newcastle game, the next opponents will be Wolves, and it will be interesting to see how much punishment Karl Henry decides to hand out to the Arsenal players, especially Cesc.
In fact I'm fairly sure that Newcastle's Joey Barton will look to leave his mark on Cesc if Cesc is available to play on Sunday. Arsenal fans have being complaining for a long time about the bad challenges that are routinely handed out in the Premier League, and these are two players who are very fond of "putting themselves about."
I saw a little bit of Liverpool's Europa League game with Napoli last night, and there was a challenge on Liverpool's Davin N'Gog that was an absolute disgrace. The Napoli player looked to clearly play the man instead of the ball in my opinion.
N'Gog was very lucky not to have his leg broken, but the referee played the advantage and took no action against the Napoli player. If there is any justice in football, he will be charged with violent conduct and receive a hefty ban for his actions.
A lot of Arsenal players are now on Twitter, and it's actually quite interesting following some of them. The latest one is Wojciech Szczesny, and he says he is on Twitter because he is fed up being misquoted elsewhere.
Cesc is fond of posting pictures on Twitter, as is Jack Wilshere, and Denilson and Henri Lansbury can be quite interesting too. If you are a fan of Twitter, you could do far worse than follow those Arsenal players.
That's it for today's brief effort, but don't forget that I'll be back later in the day with my Premier League predictions for the weekend. After that I'll have to produce another set of predictions very quickly as the next round of games starts on Wednesday night.
I'll certainly be very busy as another set of predictions will have to be prepared for the following weekend too. Over the Christmas holidays, there's four league games in 10 days, and I'm going to have to push the boat out to keep up with the predictions for those games.
See you tomorrow.
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