As I’d earlier suggested, news continues to trickle out of various first-teamers who won’t make the trip to Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Of course, as we well know, Jack Wilshere will be out due to an injury to his “good” ankle, not the one that required surgery last year. I’m willing to bet that he overcompensated his stride to protect the damaged one and, in the process, put more stress on the other. Take no chances with him, I say, with apologies to good Gooners who put down some money to see him (and others) play in Germany.
Joining him on the metaphysical sidelines will be Wojciech Szczęsny, sitting in favor of Lukas Fabianski. Why Vito “it rhymes with bologna” Mannone won’t start instead is a puzzler. Does Fabianski have lots of family coming in from Poland to see him play? Whatever the case may be, it’s a good game for sitting Szczęsny if only to remind him that he’s not as great (yet) as he might believe. Stakes are low, but the message can still reach him.
In front of Fabianski, the news cuts both ways. Kieran Gibbs is finally available, but I don’t see the need to throw him on. Bacary Sagna will rest his sore knee, and with Monreal cup-tied, we’ll probably see a back-line of Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertesacker, and Jenkinson. Whereas Fabianski might earn a play due to home-town-ish connections, the opposite appears to be happening to Lukas Podolski. It’s not like the Bayern fans are going to howl him down, I don’t think. He posted to facebook that he’s not fully fit and hoped to play Wednesday, but it’s not to be. So be it.
The less that he and other first-teamers feature on Wednesday, the better. It further lowers expectations and pressure on us to deliver any kind of miracle. With our third-string keeper in, and our first-string right-back, and two attacking midfielder, we can blithely chalk up any drubbings to injury rather than actual gaps in talent. Yeah, Bayern will go in without Ribéry, Schweinsteiger, or Boateng, but it’s not a concern. I don’t see Bayern coming like bats out of hell. They have a 3-1 lead and may just content themselves with defending that or perhaps tallying once. Heck, it’s possible that president Uli Hoeness might ask the team to take its foot off the pedal due to his apparent regard for Wenger.
Some were calling for an epic performance of the kind that might just launch us on a momentous run, and many of the players have talked gamely about their desire to go in and achieve something. Even at full-strength, I didn’t see us winning by three. Let’s just go in, have some fun, and play some footy. After all of the pressure they’ve been under, the boys deserve a more-relaxed evening. Odd that it would come in the UCL against, say, QPR or Reading, but hey. I know I’ll appreciate having a chance to watch a game a bit more casually, rather than getting all worked up about every potentiality. Having said all of this, it’s possible that Gervinho will have the game of his life and score five. And I’ll wake up to that Triumph Scrambler I’ve been wanting.