Well, it’s finally here, our first big match since our last one.
For the Spuds, matches against Arsenal don’t come much bigger, and as they search for their first win away against one of the big four for the first time in five hundred years we will need to be on top of our game if we are to make sure that we are to avoid handing them the pleasure of taking three points from us.
We know how it goes, the Spuds up their game to a level they are not able to maintain for every Premier League match whenever they play us, and people might say I’m being disrespectful to the Spuds and the quality of their team by saying it is their cup final when they play us, but until they start to prove otherwise, that’s how I’m going to see it.
In team news there was good news in that not only is Jack fit, but we haven’t lost anyone from the mid-week internationals. We all know that our home record has not been what we would like it to be, but as Wenger has never suffered the ignominy of losing at home to the Tiny Totts, the team should be operating at 100% to ensure that we do not succumb tomorrow.
Anything less and it will be a miserable day for Arsenal.
If the league table was based on home matches we would be sitting fifth, having played six, winning four, losing two, scoring 15 and conceding six in the process. On the flip side, the Spuds are tenth in the away table with stats of played six, won two, drawn one, and lost three, scoring seven but conceding 10.
Then again, what do stats mean when it comes to derby matches? As I’ve said, the Spuds play against us in a way that is not overly representative of their true form.
So how are we likely to line up?
Well, in goal regardless of the fact that Almunia has returned to full training, Fabianski will rightly retain the number one spot. In front of him we will see Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, and Clichy. Sagna’s had an excellent match midweek for France and I don’t see tiredness being a factor. Even if it is, I can’t seen Wenger plumping for the enigma that is Eboue ahead of him. Djourou has done more than enough to maintain his place in the squad and Squillaci will bring a much needed calm and organisational quality to the back line (that’s no slight on Kos).
In midfield I fancy we will see Song, Jack and Cesc, with the on-fire Nasri and Arshavin (both of whom played more than 90 midweek) out wide. Chamakh should get the nod to start, with Van Persie being introduced from the bench.
Of course, we have the option of starting Theo and TR7, but Theo especially should be kept back for his impact. Then again, do you put him on to keep Bale pushed back? Decisions, decisions, the joys of having a nearly fully-fit squad – remember the weeks when we knew who would be playing simply because we didn’t have any other options?
So how do I think it will go? Well, I’m not quite as confident as everyone else seems to be. Yes, we always win when we play them at our place, but those kind of runs have to come to an end at some point. I don’t think it will tomorrow, but should even a quarter of the team turn up with a West Brom attitude we will be in big trouble.
Luckily, the shackles of expectation of the home crowd will be put on the back burner as the crowd join the team in seeking Spud blood. There should be nothing more than rip-roaring support and encouragement from the crowd and that should be the minimum expected at home.
Get the early goal and we should romp to a comfortable victory. Let the Spuds get a foothold and we might start to get a sense of unease filtering down from the stands and on to the pitch.
I’ve had the privilege of going to a few Arsenal v Spurs matches at the Grove and I can honestly say that the crowd do nothing but support the team. They are loud, they are baying for blood. They are as they should be.
If Arsenal perform as we know they can then we simply have too much for the Spuds, there is no doubt of that. Our squad is far superior in terms of talent and depth. Match their attitude, get our tactics right (after all, they don’t use any according to VDV) and this should be a walk in the park.
Beat the Spuds, go top, now that’s what I call a brilliant start to the weekend.
Would be downright rude if the Arsenal team where to give us anything else wouldn’t you say?
Both Arshavin and Crouch have five assists in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal’s top scorer in the league this season is Chamakh with five, whereas for the Spuds it is VDV, also with five.
Arsenal have only lost one of the last 21 matches against the Spuds.
Arsenal have not lost back-to-back home games in 13 years.
Arsenal have not lost three home games in a season since 1997.
The Spuds have only kept two clean sheets in all competitions this season.
Useless fact of the day: Arsenal have not lost at home in the league to the Spuds since 1993.
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