Consider today the calmness that occurs before all great storms. Arsenal’s fortunes will be put to the test in no uncertain terms, and tomorrow it all begins with a tough trip to Liverpool.
What’s so wonderful about the upcoming fixtures, in my eyes at the very least, is how excited and nervous I am about it. In previous years we’ve seen Arsenal drop unceremoniously out of competitions to lesser opponents. The team whimpered embarrassingly when they should have roared. I’m not saying we’re going to win all the of the upcoming fixtures – not at all – I merely see us at a point were I doubt we’ll be unable to compete; where we won’t allow ourselves to not put up a fight.
It’s the mentality of this Arsenal that stands out. We have leaders; we have fighters and we couple that with fabulously gifted individuals that play for the team. Without truly entering the higher gears I believe the team to be capable of, we’ve put points on the board and deservedly lead at this point. Now the real tests begin. In the next two weeks we’ll face Liverpool twice, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. The so-called “big guns” are coming to town.
Recent Arsenal victories have seen the players starting slowly and eventually finding enough to emerge the victor. We can ill-afford to approach the run of tough fixtures in the same way. Beating Liverpool at Anfield could be crucial to how we do in the games that follow. If we can go to Merseyside and get a victory, we’ll be set up to approach a run of home fixtures with confidence.
Personally, tomorrow’s game is the most important. Liverpool may not be challenging for the title, but I do see them influencing who does. On their own pitch; with the vociferous crowd, they’ll be a formidable opponent and Suarez and Sturridge are a threat to any defence – even a partnership as solid as Mertesacker and Koscielny. I believe we can beat them. We have enough ability within our ranks to do so, even with the current injury troubles.
Winning that game and starting the ‘Run Of Death’ with 3 points is vital. A draw wouldn’t be catastrophic, but a loss could see those jitters that have plagued us before in moments of pressure re-emerging.
As was the case in the game at The Emirates, the battle will be won and lost in the midfield. I don’t expect Brendan Rodgers to deploy his troops in the same cautious manner and Liverpool to be set up to flood the centre of the park, deny our creative players space and hope they can feed Suarez and Sturridge quickly. Arteta and his partner in the holding positions will be crucial. Wether it be Wilshere or Oxlade-Chamberlain that plays, an effective balance between holding and progressing forward will need to be developed.
I’ll get into more depth tomorrow with the match preview. I’ll finish today with a story I have criminally forget to mention in previous posts – the hilarious rumour of Robin van Persie returning to Arsenal.
For starters, there is no way that story is even remotely true. I wouldn’t believe it for a nano-second. Of course, people react to it regardless, and I’m with the masses out there who let out a resounding “NOOOO!!!!!” when quizzed how they’d feel about a return. F**k him, I’d not want him to come back. He made his bed when he left, won the title he so craved and he should stay away.
Robin van Persie had the chance to be considered amongst the greats at Arsenal football club. He gave that up. Now he’ll be nothing more than a forgotten page in United’s history and remembered as a permanently injured mercenary. His name isn’t even worth the time it took me to write it.
That’s all for today, folks. Tomorrow will bring a full preview and team news for the Liverpool game. Until then, use the comments below to share some of your early thoughts on the game and how you’d like to see us line up at Anfield.
As always: thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.