The final game preview of the season is here and a little more news has begun to trickle through regarding tomorrow’s game, though it has come more from the Fulham side in that both Duff and Zamora are confirmed as missing out. Both are welcome absentees from an Arsenal perspective as it was Zamora that tortured Sol a few years back in what turned out to be his final game for the club in his first stint here. So, I’m sure Sol will be happy to not have to face him again, as am I, because he has been in good form this season.
The manager said that there is a chance that Clichy will play, but to be honest I would rather see him take a chance on Gibbs as it is the final game of the season and even if Gibbs were to have a setback, there is still plenty of time for him to recover before the new season gets underway. Not that I want him to have a setback, but you know what I mean. I think that Gibbs will be the future of the club at left back, so it would be nice to see him get a bit more playing time under his belt before the end of the season.
Both Van Persie and Arshavin should start the game, probably Walcott, too, with no other players to return since the Blackburn game. That leaves the manager with one huge decision to make, that being who to play in goal tomorrow? If indeed Almunia DOES have an injury, then it is a choice between Lukarse and Mannone. Neither of those choices fills me with great confidence but, I would pick Mannone ahead of Lukarse as we know that Lukarse has a definite mistake in him in every single game he plays, guaranteed. Mannone may be younger and less experienced, but I would have more confidence in him to do a job for us tomorrow, especially as he had such a good game against Fulham before. It’s crazy that Arsenal are in the situation where we’re hoping our third choice keeper plays instead of our 2nd choice, but that’s where we find ourselves so we just have to get on with it. Pray to whatever god or higher power you believe in that Wenger goes out and buys a quality keeper in the summer.
So, our probable line-up tomorrow will be: Mannone (hopefully), Sagna, Campbell, Silvestre (God help us), Clichy, Walcott, Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Arshavin and Van Persie.
I think Eboue will keep his place after looking bright and making some good runs against Blackburn last week. Though we may see Eduardo start in place of Walcott. If that happens, we could see Arshavin and Van Persie starting in the wider positions with Eduardo up front. Van Persie plays out wide for the national team, so he could be a good support for Eduardo, who is likely to play his last game for the club tomorrow.
Elsewhere, the boss says that Tottenham deserve their place in the Champions League and as much as it pains me to say it, you can’t really disagree with that. After 38 games, the league table doesn’t lie. But, we’d better not let those bunch of c*nts pip us to third. I was at the Villa game a good few years back on the final day of the season when ManUre clinched the title on the final day by beating Spuds and a bunch of Spuds c*nts came down to Islington to gloat/goad the Arsenal fans. So, we can’t give them the chance to do something similar again.
The boss also came as close as he ever has to confirming a transfer without actually confirming it when saying this about Chamakh:
“It is not officially done, but we are confident on the boy. When all is clear we will come out and announce it.”
So, we are a step closer to having our first signing officially announced. Now, Arsene, get the finger out and sort out our goalkeeping and central defensive issues, please.
Of our current league predicament, the manager had this to say:
“I am surprised because I thought we would make the points before now. I know this match comes after a few disappointing results and of course since we have gone out of the Champions League there was a little downer in our heads. But I think we have enough pride and quality to finish the season well and to secure third place.”
It’s the job of the manager and his staff to make sure that the players retain their focus, fight and desire, despite the disappointment of going out of the Champions League. You get the feeling that there was an air of complacency floating around the club in that they thought that a 3rd place finish was a given. This year should be another lesson to the team that nothing can be taken for granted in the league. But, how many times do they have to be taught this lesson? I wonder can Demento lend his hairdryer to us this weekend, because some of the players need a good kick up the arse.
Talking about possible transfers and team progression the boss had this to say:
“If we bring some players in then they have to be experienced. I think we have been in the race this year with the team we had. We will be stronger next year just with the internal improvement and with the experience these players will have. The additions will be minimal but if there are some they have to be really top class.”
In a strange way it is the final line of that quote that scares me the most, because we have heard the manager say this before and he has then gone out and signed Silvestre. Fingers crossed he means actual quality players this time. They don’t have to be expensive, as long as they are good. Also, I hope that our players actually do learn from the experiences of this season.
Anyway, this is the final game of the season, it’s at home, so I hope that our fans will give their all to drag the team across the finish line. The team needs our total support tomorrow. One game, three points. Let’s get the job done.
One final note, I’d like to wish Robert Pires (one of my all-time favourite Arsenal players) all the best in finding a new club after Villarreal told him that they won’t be renewing his contract. I still wish that we had never let him go.
Take it easy. I’ll be back on Monday.