The question you should be asking yourselves at the top of this blog, dear readers, is just what you have done to deserve two blogs in two days from me? The short answer is nothing. I just thought it would be nice to take advantage of a quiet work day and have a look at some stuff I don’t normally get a chance to. This, certainly, is not a case of singing when you’re winning. And, with my record of writing confident match previews here only to see the Arsenal crumble, neither is it a preview of tomorrow’s trip to the Black Country.
Oh, just whilst I think of it, you can thank me for the hex I put on Spurs at the end of yesterday’s blog later…
And that thought leads me nicely onto Spurs, Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur and all that. On the 25th March, I wrote a blog titled No Fear for the Arsenal. Within it, I dared to suggest that having come through a fairly tough period of games with 7 straight wins, the remaining 8 matches should not unduly trouble Arsenal. I also ventured the opinion that Spurs had suffered huge psychological damage as a result of winning one Premier League match in seven- this opinion appeared to rile more than a few Spurs fans, which is surprising only in that I was stating a self evident fact. I guess some of them were feeling a little bit rattled, the poor loves.
Now, we can sit here and remind ourselves that Arsenal then went onto lose to QPR, which was as frustrating as it was strangely predictable. At least, I wasn’t surprised. But we should also then remind ourselves that since that blog, Spurs have taken just four points from two home fixtures (Swansea and Norwich) and one away game (Sunderland). Going further back on this, Spurs last recorded back to back wins in the Premier League in the opening two fixtures of 2012- is it really so fanciful to suggest that Harry’s target of 5 wins from their last 5 games is beyond them? Such has been the scale of their collapse, alongside our resurgence, with Spurs now surely more worried about holding off Newcastle than catching us, that there seems to be a Dorian Gray kind of vibe to the whole thing. Dorian Gray, with a large helping of Fabio Capello sauce. To borrow from Tony Wilson (RIP), if you don’t know who Dorian Gray is, “it’s okay, but you should probably read more.”
Anyway, enough about them.
I’m serious about not writing a match preview for the Wolves game, by the way. What I will say is that I’m not unduly worried about Johan Djourou filling for Laurent Koscielny tomorrow night, nor at home to Wigan next Monday. What does worry me is the thought that Arsene may look to shore up our midfield, a midfield that largely performed brilliantly on Sunday by including Aaron Ramsey on the left for the third away game in a row. Aside from the fact that the captain of Wales looks to be forcing things rather than just playing simply- the best way to regain your form I think- he is no left sided midfielder.
I wonder if part of the thinking is to use Ramsey’s box to box energy to protect that flank in the same way as Ray Parlour once did on the right. If it is, it appears to be a self defeating strategy with the natural tendency of Ramsey to play in the centre exposing that left flank. Not to mention much of the fluency and attacking thrust that comes from playing, you know, wide players wide gone. With Benayoun recently preferred in that position for two big home games against Spurs and City, it begs the question as to why he has been largely ignored elsewhere. Even if you don’t want to risk the lightweight Israeli away from home, then surely the direct running of either Gervinho or the Ox are better bets than the fish out of water that is Ramsey? I mean, if you’re- I don’t know- Luke Young, who would you rather have running at you all day? If, to return to the opening sentence of this paragraph, the idea is that Ramsey can do a Parlour style job, you also have to factor in that the balance of the team. Back then, with Pires or Ljungberg providing a massive goal threat off the other flank and Thierry and Dennis up front, we could set up like that. In fact, away from home, it was probably sensible to. But we don’t have the same kind of goal threat now. Not now Robin appears to have stopped scoring for the season anyway.
Finally, one thing that- as I sat committing highlights of recent games to DVD- sprang to mind yesterday was the fact that, even as we see option after option rotated off that left flank, Theo Walcott has, very quietly, cemented himself as a first team regular. He is still prone to off days- show me a footballer who isn’t! But it seems that the arrival of another Southampton youth and, to be fair, the return of Bacary Sagna has seen Walcott become a very effective footballer. I’ve given Theo more than his fair share of stick, but watching the amount of goals that he has been involved in this season gives me hope that there is much more to come from the winger. It certainly seems that Arsene believes so. Now, if he could just get a little more lethal with his finishing…
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