Afternoon all, how’s it hanging? Loose and limber, I hope.
I hope that, like me, you’ve finally shaken off Arsenal’s second concession of a two goal in the space of a week and are all looking forward to tomorrow’s match against Spurs. The importance of which hardly needs spelling out. Nor does it need to be spelt out that the team need your backing like never before. Yes, as the Arseblogger said after the Fulham game, they can make your head hurt. But, when they set their minds to it, there are some pretty good players in that Arsenal side. Players that should be good enough to go out and collect three points against a Spurs side who appear to be in a similar kind of disarray to ourselves.
Oh, I’m sure the pundits will talk Tottenham up- that’s their job, right? But talk to a Spurs fan, if you can bear to, and AVB is convincing nobody. Nor should it be forgotten that, as much as Arsenal suffered the departure of their MVP last season, Spurs are now a Luka Modric and Van Der Vaart light. And Van Der Vaart was usually good for a goal against us, wasn’t he? Plus Moussa Demebele is injured.
Speaking of injuries… I can only hope Arsene Wenger is playing some kind of game with the media, because his pronouncements on the fitness- more to the point- the lack of fitness, of several, important members of our first team is a real cause for concern. There are question marks over the participation of Szczesny, Sagna, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. And, with Santi Cazorla fresh (see what I did there) off a plane from Panama, it’s fairly clear that Arsene’s plans for the derby and, yes, I’m making the ginormous leap of faith that he has one, are up in the air. This seems appropriate.
That said, I don’t think anyone would be too surprised to see all of the players I have just mentioned, except the Ox, starting tomorrow. With Carl Jenkinson having progressed well this season, I could feasibly see Bacary Sagna being rested. But I do believe that, despite the Bac Man’s slightly indifferent form since returning to the first team, no coach would willingly rest him. Not for a game of this magnitude. Especially not as it was his goal, really, that was both the catalyst and symbol of last season’s dramatic, joyous, comeback.
Thinking about the players whose participation is in doubt, it’s obvious- to me at least- that them all being able to play tomorrow would be a massive boost to our chances. Particularly if Spurs continue with the high line of defence that seems to be AVB’s preference. An on form Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla (and yeah, I know none of them are exactly tip top right now) should be able to play through the Spurs midfield and provide Podolski and (hopefully) Walcott with plenty of opportunities down the flanks. Olivier Giroud, if he is fit to start, will also be feeling pretty confident about his chances of writing himself a page in the folklore of a North London Derby. I think he’s beginning to show, really, why Arsenal spent £12m on him.
No, not just because he’s French…
I haven’t really got too much else to say about tomorrow. The optimist in me thinks that both clubs are in a bit of a mess, but when it comes to it, we’re at home and we have a manager who, say what you will about him, knows a thing or two about beating Spurs. The pessimist in me remembers all too clearly that dreadful Saturday lunchtime when we threw away a two goal lead- hmmm, how familiar does that sound? It’s Spurs and anything could happen. Dennis Bergkamp once said that he only considered Spurs rivals in a geographic sense, but years later this game has now become of vital importance to both clubs. A Spurs win would give AVB some of the legitimacy he craves. An Arsenal win, particularly a convincing one, would bring Arsene Wenger some breathing space.
With the number of Wenger sceptics increasing by the week, he needs it.------------
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