As you might recall, the reverse fixture to today’s game at Villa Park caused something of an uproar. That fateful day; the day Arsenal supporters felt the lowest they have for some time, Anthony Taylor produced one of the most hapless and cretinous displays of refereeing I think I’ve ever seen.
He was a, as Alan Pardew so eloquently put it yesterday…
Since that day, Arsenal have come on leaps and bounds and victory tonight will see us reclaim the top spot in the Premiership. To some, the match is a formality. Our opponents might be on their own ground, but their form is utterly woeful at present and they don’t look a team at all – more a collection of miscreants ambling about the pitch in hope of accomplishing something of note – like in those zombie films where the undead wander aimlessly without any human being to gnaw upon.
Perhaps it is simply my propensity for bouts of pessimism, but Aston Villa being considered such underdogs does worry me ever so slighlty. I know, I know; I tend to say that before most games. It’s in my nature, you see. By envisaging and discussing the worst, I prepare myself for it and, with a touch of good fortune, banish the chances of it happening. Superstitious poppycock? I’m sure it is, but I shall continue to do so regardless.
When teams are not expected to beat us, the pressure on them is removed. When the world watches to see whether or not we can retain the loftiest perch in English football we previously obtained, the pressure mounts. Make no mistake, boys ‘n’ girls, Aston Villa can approach this match with nothing to lose. Arsenal must have their wits about them and ensure nobody views proceedings as a case of turning up and winning with ease.
The team news is something of a mixed bag. We all know Theo Walcott is missing now until next season. Both Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have an outside chance of featuring, but I would guess a place on the substitutes bench is as much as we can expect. Nicklas Bendtner hasn’t featured since he forced me into lavishly smearing myself with delicious fruity preserve, and I still hold something of a grudge for that – he should return by the end of the month. Abou Diaby and Yaya Sanogo will not be included in the squad as both have relocated to a small, quaint West Country village in order to solve crimes and enjoy high tea with the local Women’s Institute.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski are both fit, and both will probably get some playing time tonight. My best – not especially educated – guess at how Arsene will send out the troops is as follows;
Given the requirement of 3 points, it is very likely indeed Podolsk will start on the left side with Ganbry switching to the bench. Cazorla or Rosicky are both capable of playing on the right side of the attack. As is Oxlade-Chamberlian.
Ohhh, I don’t f**king know how we’ll line-up. Stop pressuring me. Geeez – you lot are so demanding, aren’t you… I’m just offering a guess here. There’s every chance I’ll be wrong. Give me a break…
Of course, I merely jest. That woeful attempt at humour was to disguise the fact I genuinely have no idea how we’ll line up. With 9 days between fixtures, there is little or no reason to rest anyone. Arsene will select the team he feels is best suited to dispatch Villa. It could see starts for Rosicky and Podolski. It could see starts for Gnabry and Cazorla. We shall have to wait and see.
I forgot about Arteta… To think – some pundits seem to think we don’t have any strength in depth.
I think we’re in for a tough game tonight. Villa have a vociferous crowd when they’re given reason to be, and that should be our first objective; silencing the roaring locals. If we can dominate possession and create chances, we will win. If we allow the ghosts of fixtures past to cloud our game plan, it could well be an uncomfortably evening. Should I be forced to put a wager on the outcome ant gun point, I’d positively exclaim that Arsenal shall triumph by 3 goals to 1. Let’s all hope I’m right.
That’s all for today folks. If you have a particular way you’d prefer the team to take to the field tonight, let me know – by that I mean formations and personnel, I do not mean a bizarre and enchantingly choreographed frolic and the majesty of song is a way they could take to the field. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I shall return with more blathering and witless ballyhoo upon the glorious morning of tomorrow. Alas now I must go to work and make breakfasts for the ungrateful.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.