Defeat isn’t fun. Especially when you have the media looking to jump on even the slightest stutter in our blistering run of form this season. We didn’t play our best football against Dortmund, sure, but their goal was totally against the run of the play and when Chelsea did the same on their route to Champions League glory, I don’t remember the press saying then that Bayern or Barca weren’t up to that level.
Anyway, rant aside, we have two more big games to preview for you in the shape of Palace and Mourinho’s Chelsea. The boys had so much to say this week that I didn’t even get a word in edgeways, so enjoy . . .
With day light emerging at the top of the table it’s a wondrous thing to be a gooner at the minute. ‘That goal’ against Norwich seemed seven years in the making – gorgeous two touch interplay culminated with a delightful flick and finish. It was a sequence to satisfy even the most stubborn supporter and wry smiles from the Norwich faithful were even more proof in Delia’s pudding.
I think enough has been written about Wilshere’s goal. Safe to say for a neutral it brought a cheer. With the games coming thick and fast. I think I’ve spent more time on the BackPageBanter sofa than my own in recent weeks. As for Arsenal, I don’t think they could have asked for a kinder fixture to get back to winning ways after an unfortunate turn of events on Tuesday night. A beleaguered Crystal Palace, devoid of any confidence or a manager after the trouncing by Fulham, welcome a team they have only managed to take five points from in the last 8 meetings.
Team Player Tom
I’m just grateful Flamini is back for the next run of games. While his injury didn’t affect the Norwich game, he was sorely missed against Dortmund and it’s fair to say my fondness for the Frenchman grew in his absence. Whilst a struggling Palace team in managerial turmoil may seem the perfect chance to rotate some big names, I think Wenger should stick with a strong 11. After a loss, players like Ozil, Giroud and Ramsey will be desperate to bounce back to winning ways and depriving them of a spell at Selhurst may do far more damage than good. It is also worth considering that while a second string team should be capable of getting a victory, the number of points on offer is always three, whether playing relegation battlers or championship contenders – any dropped points on Saturday will no doubt be rude come count up time in May.
The canary’s cage was certainly rattled last weekend and a full strength team got the business done almost effortlessly in the end. Giroud especially is crucial to Arsenal’s momentum, proving he is not only a goal scorer but provider! He has been directly involved in 12 goals for Arsenal this season, scoring 8 and assisting 4 in 14 games this season! He’s fast becoming the complete striker and compliments the attacking players behind him. His understanding with Mesut Ozil is already top-notch and both have to start on Saturday for me.
I’d be lying if I said I thought Saturday wasn’t a dead cert no matter what side you put out, but then again football’s a funny old game (I return you to page one of the Premier League fixture list). Could you really put it past Mr Chamakh to score a smash and grab winner at the death? Stranger things have happened! Like that time I was mugged by a man dressed as a clown whilst coming back from the circus. Bizarre…
Palace’s best bet is to get the exciting wingers Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon on the ball as much as possible to feed whoever leads the line – whether that be goal king Kev Phillips, Premier League rookie Dwight Gayle or your old friend Chamakh. Bolasie made his first Premier League start vs Fulham and has the potential to excite and cause the full backs real issues.
Bald eagle Holloway departs and leaves Wenger licking his lips at a potential goal difference boost! With bonfire night not too far away now I predict the sparks will fly with Cazorla to the left Ozil to the right and stuck in the middle, Giroud! Did you know boys that 8 different Arsenal players have scored in the Premier league this season; no side in the league have had more individual goal scorers!
Team Player Tom
Having said about putting out our strongest team in the League, it is also essential that Wenger stand firm in his youth policy for the League Cup. As we look back, the competition has been an excellent opportunity for developing players to gain vital experience – accelerating their progression physically and mentally. In all honesty winning it will do little to appease fans, especially if it comes at a cost of League or Champions League form. The squad is improving but still isn’t strong enough to fight on four fronts and it seems prudent to shift focus onto the big 3 and let the youngsters have a crack at Chelsea.
Chelsea’a visit to the Emirates provides a real mouth-watering encounter no matter what team is fielded. With the last 8 awaiting the winner surely both managers, despite the inevitable tinkering, will put a team capable of winning this one?
For sure we will need to rest players on Tuesday so the likes of Monreal and Vermaelen should be given a run out as Chelsea will also rotate! With players like Willian, Essien and co it will be a cracking cup tie! Luckily for us there is no Drogba to contend with who always scored against us in previous encounters and hopefully Flamini will play as in the seven he has done so far, Arsenal have won! I had an avid United fan say to me last night that he would be happy with League Cup… So it could be worse!
Some great games to look forward to chaps so sit comfy and enjoy the rollercoaster ride accustomed to with Arsenal! COYG!
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