Mikel, Arsene, Eden Hazard’s filthy admission, Per’s ankle, away goals, yellow kits and a case of the shits.

Good morning, folks from around the globe, and a very happy Valentine’s Day to you. I hope you’ve all got something nice planned if you’ve a significant other, something maudlin and gushy that’ll entice them toward the bedroom. If not, and if you’ve taken a moment out of your day to cast eyes upon my humble offerings; they’ll always be a place for you in my heart.

You’ll have to excuse me if today’s post appears rushed; I’ve thunderously evacuated my bowels several times this morning, and I’m in considerable distress. Worse still, I fear a severe dent could be made in the cornucopia of carnal delights I’ve planned for this evening. Damn you, bowels. Damn you to Hell. But, less about my arse, and more about The Arse:

Sunderland at the Stadium of Light began the period described as “seasoning defining” by Arsene Wenger, and it’s a test we can be buoyed by having passed. Jammed between another visit on Saturday, lies the small matter of a trip to the San Siro. The glorious city of Milan sandwiched between two visits to a thumping gert shit-hole (‘gert’ is a Bristolian word, for those who may not know. We have gert-lush sandwiches round ‘ere in these parts, my lovers).

The general feeling amongst fans I’ve spoken to is negative towards our current blue monstrosity of an away kit. So hearing today that the boys will step out onto the pitch against AC Milan wearing last season’s yellow 2nd shirt has come as a welcome bit of good news. I know it’s superstitious nonsense, but seeing Arsenal play in blue has never sat right with me; I never feel confident about getting a result.

Of course, the kit means nothing if those wearing it aren’t up to the task, and Mikel Arteta has had a few bits to say regarding the teams penchant for slack defending and concession of goals:

“I watch the game from behind the attackers and I know that when we become too open we leave many spaces and concede goals.

“I just try to balance the team a little bit. Sometimes I would like to go forward more, but I’ve still had chances and the goal against Blackburn was my sixth this year, which isn’t bad.

“I don’t want to be the main man; we all know who the main man is and that’s Robin. He is the leader, he is the one who makes a real difference.

“Everyone is part of a machine and we are all just trying to make the machine work as well as we can.”

I’d agree with that totally. Defending is a team responsibility – some have more than others – and it requires 11 players on the field to contribute. Milan have a squad with experience and undoubted threat in the final third. Defensive duties will play a vital part determining the result, and Arsene Wenger, perhaps a little alarmingly, has stated his desire to attack the Italians and obtain the much-coveted and valuable away goal:

“The European system is organised to reward audacious action away from home,”

“When you go away in the Champions League, you have to score. The best way to score is play in an offensive way and we will try to do that.”

Whilst their defence is certainly open to being exploited by the pace of our wingers, a cavalier approach could prove disastrous. The San Siro is a large pitch so they’ll be plenty of space to unleash Theo or The Ox, but we’d do well to focus as much effort ensuring there’s organisation and concentration at the back; by all means attack, just don’t sacrifice stability doing so. I’d be more than happy to come away with a 0-0.

In other news, The BFG’s ankle injury has, mercifully, only ruled him out for a month and Belgian hot-shot and much revered wonder-child, Eden Hazard, has upset the proverbial cart of apples and sent fickle Gooners into blind fury. In an interview with some hack French rag, he stated he might sign for our mouthy neighbours. Reports suggest a deal may have already been done, and the player has agreed personal terms. However, my bullshit-ometer has gone into overdrive. The little scamp is whoring himself out to attract higher wages. Either way, he’s hardly covered himself in glory with the Arsenal faithful.

Tomorrow I’ll post up a in-depth preview and discuss the areas I feel we have strengths and weaknesses. Until then, thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follows my tweets – _ArmchairGooner.

And I’ve got to go to the lavatory again…

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