Arsenal Welcome Back Some Of The Wounded For Visit Of Birmingham
Arsenal will try and get their season back on track this weekend as they welcome Birmingham to the Emirates. After successive defeats to West Brom and Chelsea, three points are a must.
Arsene Wenger is still without Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Aaron Ramsey, Manuel Almunia, and Thomas Vermaelen. The latest addition to the casualty list is French right back Bacary Sagna who was injured while on international duty. Wenger, however, will be pleased to welcome back Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner, and left back Kieran Gibbs, while there is a chance that Theo Walcott could be passed fit if he comes through tomorrow's training session.
The visit of Birmingham sees Alexander Hleb return to his former club. The Belarus international was a popular player during his time at Arsenal, although he frustrated with his unwillingness to shoot for goal, but his departure from the club was anything but nice and his seeming demise in footballing status has pleased many a Gooner. Hleb now admits it was a mistake leaving the club that made him a worldwide name, but Arsenal will still be out to punish him further by making sure he's on the losing side.
Another man who will be closely watched at the weekend is referee Martin Atkinson. Atkinson has not been in charge of a Blues' game since last season's Birmingham derby when he awarded Aston Villa a controversial penalty that decided the game. The referee has also had run-ins with Arsene Wenger in the past, with the Frenchman having pushed Atkinson (acting as fourth official) during the game with Sunderland, landing Le Boss with a fine and one match ban.
There is plenty of recent history between Arsenal and Birmingham, not least the Taylor/Eduardo incident. Both players may have now departed their respective clubs but no doubt the resentment lives on among the fans. Birmingham will be happy to get anything from this game, for Arsenal anything short of a win will be a disaster.