Just like pints to Gazza in a bar, the games are coming thick and fast over the festive period. Monday saw us take on and beat what can best be described as an average Chavski side. That’s not to detract from our own performance but clearly, on current form, Chavski will have their work cut out for them if they are to maintain a title push. That feels very nice to write, although it’d be foolish to write them off just yet as they are still in contention given ManUre’s draw last night.
As mentioned in the title, we are in the midst of nine days that could go a long way to showing whether or not this team will be capable of mounting and maintaining a credible league challenge. The first of the four games in nine days was Chavski, tonight is away to Wigan, Saturday is away to Birmingham and next Wednesday will see us take on Man Shitty at the Emirates. I think that we must get maximum points out of these four games, especially as Chavski have already been successfully overcome.
On Monday, our players stood up to the challenge and showed a lot of energy and drive. They really wanted to show, to themselves as much as to the fans, that they were capable of beating one of the big teams. Cesc picked up his fifth booking of the season and so will miss the Wigan game, but you would be thinking that he may have missed that game anyway as the boss tries to ease him back into things following his long-standing injury problems. So, maybe the suspension is a blessing in disguise at it removes any temptation from the boss to risk our captain.
Our goal came at the perfect time, just before half-time. In truth, a penalty could have been given for a foul on Cesc in the build-up, but Alex Song was able to finish sweetly with a shot across the keeper into the bottom corner of the net. A massive goal that sent the team in at the break on a high.
The game swung heavily in our favour after going three up early in the second half with two goals in quick succession from Cesc and Walcott.
However, Arsenal are not a team that likes, or is able, to do things easily. You could probably add defending to that, too. We were no sooner three goals up when a Drogba free-kick from their left flank was hit into the box and nobody really made any kind of telling challenge on Ivanovic. Koscielny really could have made a better effort at a challenge on that. That brought a period of resurgence from Chavski, but they didn’t manage to find a way through.
There was an incident of customary dithering on the ball by Clichy in the second half which allowed Chavski to regain possession but they failed to do anything with it.
From the moment Chavski scored I was filled with the enormous dread that we were going to blow it big style. I even sat there thinking about what the odds would be on a 4-3 turnaround. However, the depression induced by such thoughts prevented me from checking it out. The team were definitely shaky for a while after conceding, but they held on for the all important three points and the massive psychological boost that that should bring.
As important as those three points were and the morale boost they have given the players and the fans, it will all be for nothing if they don’t now go out and beat Wigan tonight and Birmingham at the weekend. It is important to get some momentum going as we head into the new year and the push for honours.
Which brings us on to tonight’s game. There are sure to be some changes from the game against Chavski, some will be rested and Cesc is suspended.
I think that we may line up with Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Walcott and Chamakh.
I don’t want to see Djourou drop down to the bench, however given his injury record the manager may decide to rest him ahead of the game at the weekend. Likewise for RvP, who is so brittle that we shouldn’t risk him playing two games in three days so soon after returning from injury.
The suspension of Cesc should see Diaby get a rare start and I think that the manager may just decide to rest Wilshere as Wigan may be seen as a better game for him to miss rather than miss Birmingham. Personally, I’d like to see Wilshere start tonight. I think that Walcott may keep his place in the side as he offers more in terms of both work rate and his pace than Arshavin.
Apologies for the brevity/accuracy of the Chavski match ‘report’ as I was in Tokyo all day yesterday and am now stuck with a dodgy wi-fi connection and ATVO appears to be down today, so I am unable to access match highlights, interviews or the manager’s press conference. So, this has all been guesswork, blurry drunken memory and very much off the top of my head.
If you are bored, you can follow me on Twitter: @colm_smyth where you may find some intelligent comments amidst all the drunken and ranting ones.
Tonight’s game is on J-Sports 2 and coverage begins at 04:39. If you are interested in keeping an eye on other games’ scores, Liverpool vs. Wolves is on J-Sports 1 from 04:54 and Chavski vs. Bolton is on J-Sports Plus from 04:39.
Right, I’m afraid that’ll have to do. Take it easy.