So it’s finally here, Boxing Day proper and The Arsenal match.
I’m not really sure what to say about this match. We know where we are at, we know about our record against man U and Chelsea, we know about our home record, we know about our defence and we know we need to win more for this side’s belief in themselves than for the three points (although they are pretty important).
What else is there to say? We know that if we don’t turn up we won’t win, and while a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world, a win is what is really needed to kick this team on.
Win tonight and we can reclaim second place, draw and we stay in third, lose and we slip to fourth. Read Reznuk’s take on tonight’s six-pointer here.
There is some talk that Diaby will start, and while I think he would add power and height to our side, having seen VP and Cesc return before match-fit you have to wonder if he really would be a benefit. As Arseblogger pointed out today, Arshavin has been found wanting in his defensive duties and the question has to be asked if a half-fit Diaby would offer a higher defensive work-rate even if that isn’t his position.
In goal, Chesney can consider himself very unlucky as he would have played last weekend had it not snowed and could have very well staked a claim to start this match. Of course, he could always give Fabianski a sly kick in the warm-up before the match, but given that they are good friends I doubt that will happen.
At the back, like most of you, I’d like to see Djourou alongside Squillaci but it is more likely to be Kos. Sagna and Clichy will complete the back line.
In the middle, Song will be in there not playing the holding role, and with Cesc being reported as fully-fit and mentally over his recent injuries we can expect a big game from him. I’m sure he hasn’t been best pleased with what he’s seen in lots of matches this season, but he needs to show his full range tonight and lift the others. Jack will more than likely complete the midfield three.
Up front, recent talk of Chamakh’s tiredness and Van Persie’s readiness hints at the Dutchman getting the nod. Nasri is a no-brainer on the right and out left we probably will see Arshavin though he doesn’t have assists to guarantee his inclusion any more so you have to wonder what he needs to do (or not do) to be dropped and give someone else a chance.
We know from previous matches that they will try to bully us, but we are stronger this year. We know they will capitalise on every mistake, but we have to make sure we do the same. We need to play without fear even though I’m sure, to a man, the lot of them will be bricking it.
The ability is there in this team, but no matter what they say the belief is not. I sometimes wonder if the team even think they can win before they take to the pitch. If they dont’ then it’s no wonder our heads drop at every setback. But little by little we have been closing the gap between us and them, tonight we have to give everything to show that the gap no longer exists.
It will only be one win, three points, but it will do more for our whole season than a run of ten straight wins against bottom half teams.
Fail to win, and I say we all chip in to buy them a copy of this:
It’s can’t hurt can it? Not that we’ll need it after tonight.
Sure we won’t?
Reassure me people.
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