It didn’t really feel like Christmas without Arsenal, once again, on Boxing Day did it? And let’s face it, there hasn’t been anything that could be described as ‘festive cheer’ since then but as Arsenal get ready to face West Ham in the rearranged fixture, memories of matches past can at least raise a wry smile.
The 3-1 win over West Ham just before the International break left us all full of hope. Some of us ran to the bookies to pop on bets on trophies, top four, top three, hell, maybe even top two. Not me, I’m banned from betting due to the adverse affect it seems to have on whoever I decide should be winning. That or I’m just rubbish at betting, it’s one of the two.
Arsenal go in to this match as favourites and rightly so. It’s at the Emirates and even without Coquelin [hamstring], Arteta [calf], and Rosicky [calf] and a doubt hanging over Diaby [Diabyness] the return of Podolski and the Ox after illness we aren’t as weak as we could possibly have been.
The match gives us a chance to close the gap on fourth place to four points, nothing when you consider the position we were in this time last year, but anything less than a win after only gaining one point from the last nine available and you can bet your house that all hell will break lose amongst the Arsenal faithful.
There can be no failure to turn up in the first half, even if a large portion of Arsenal season ticket holders aren’t going to bother to turn up at all. There can be no handbrakes or jaded fear of failure. There can be no excuses any more.
The problem with being in the situation that we find ourselves presently is that teams arrive at our place knowing that we can be got at. There is no sense of fear for them in going to Arsenal. The Emirates is a place where points can be taken and Arsenal a team that can be challenged. It’s horrible and I don’t like it.
Marouane Chamakh, on loan with West Ham, won’t be eligible to play due to the Premier League regulations but he’s already talking like a West Ham player, saying
“I don’t know if I necessarily have any secrets [about Arsenal]. The players will have to produce something pretty good over there. They’re going to play with their hearts and their heads and they’ll have to give everything to bring us back at least a point.”
I saw a joke doing the rounds that Arsenal fans would prefer that he was allowed to play against the team.
In other news, it’s perhaps not surprising that the tickets for a Champions League tie against Bayern would sell out quickly, gone in a couple of hours while tickets for the match against West Ham and Liverpool sit unsold on the Arsenal site. However you rate Arsenal’s chances, the fact is, we are still in the tournament which is more than can be said about the likes of Chelsea who had to put their tickets on general sale for their second leg against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.
This is the fine line we are walking at the minute.
The Ivory Coast might have found nothing but disappointment in the last Africa Cup of Nations which they lost in the final but, instilled as favourites to win the competition by the bookies, Gervinho helped them get off to the best possible start. He might not be able to find the net for Arsenal from a yard out but he delivered an assist to give Ivory Coast the lead and then scored a delightful winner in the 88th minute to give the Ivorians all three points. Watch it here if you haven’t already seen it.
Youngster Kristoffer Olsson gave an interview to the Swedish press in which he talks about his ambitions. He comes across as a very mature young man and his interview can be read here.
And that’s about it on the news front. How nice would a stress free night be watching the Gunners? How about it Arsenal?
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