I have an usual feeling today and it’s not dread. Ordinarily, I view trips to the Bridge of Stamford with considerable trepidation – imagine the kind of enthusiasm you’d have for smearing your genitals in jam and dry-humping a wasp nest and you’re on the same level. Our games at Chelsea, barring some delicious exceptions, do tend to be unfavourable and that 6-0 thrashing for Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game still irks me to this day.
But I don’t feel worry or nervousness. I’m hit with an odd sensation of calm. I initially thought the Watford game had such an averse affect on my general mental health that I’d forgotten how to give a sh*t on match days, but then it kinda struck me what the feeling was down to – I’ve given up thinking we can win the title.
Mathematically, of course, it’s not an impossibility at this stage. But realistically, given the propensity Arsenal have for doing stupid things when an opportunity to close the gap presents itself, I’m of the opinion we won’t win the league because maintaining the consistency required to do so is beyond the team.
Sounds a horribly defeatist thing to say, doesn’t it? It’s not something I particularly enjoy saying. In an ideal world, I’d be slobbering praise for Arsenal. But the world we currently live in has others far more likely to receive the shiny trophy in May. And those most likely are today’s opponents.
The defeat to Watford has taken some of the edge off things today. Had we capitalised on Chelsea’s draw with Liverpool, I’d be up for today’s game in a big way. But Arsenal being Arsenal waiting patiently for the opportunity to arise and dutifully proceeded to f*ck it up.
So team news…
Bellerin should return to the fold to take his place from Gabriel at right back. I think it’s fair to say we’ll all be relieved to see our Brazilian friend replaced in that position as he looks extremely uncomfortable there. In central midfield, Aaron Ramsey is out for 3 weeks with a hamstring niggle and his absence leaves us with only Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain to fill the two roles. The Ox’s performance at Southampton in central midfield was exceptional and promising for the future, but today is a far, far different proposition.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud is said to be a slight doubt. I’ve a feeling the manager might go back to playing Alexis centrally with Perez and Walcott either side. We’ll need pace today and as much as I love Giroud, I feel he currently offers so much more when he’s used from the bench. The team look far more effective with Alexis through the middle.
Of the game, Arsene said:
“It is an opportunity that you want to take. We have many big games coming up, if you look at our programme until the end of the season we have many, many big games.
I would say basically our destiny lies in how well we deal with the big games. People are questioning us and you have to respond in a big game or people will question you even more.
We are here to win football games for Arsenal Football Club and not to worry about the criticism because criticism is normal. People who love the club want you to win the games and you have to deal with that situation.”
He’s absolutely correct. People are questioning us and with good reason. We might not like the manner in which some of that criticism is delivered, but regardless of how moronic some folk are in their methods, questions do need to be asked regarding the frequency with which we let ourselves down. I’ve said it before; we’ve all seen this movie and we all know how it ends.
We need to start the game today, and not wait until we go 2 goals down to kick into gear. Chelsea are in imposing form and would be clear favourites to win. Perhaps that’s to our advantage. No one expects us to come away with anything other than our tails between our legs. Pundits, former players, Chelsea fans: they all expect us to lose. I’m one of them myself and it does pain me to say that. Please Arsenal, go out there and play like you know you can and prove me wrong.
I’m going to predict a 1-0 defeat, and I feel thoroughly dirty doing so. That said, if we do play to our abilities we can get something from the game. It really depends how long it takes for the real Arsenal to show up and whether or not it’s too late when they do.
You know what – f*ck it. We’re going to pull out a world-class display and win 4-0. F*ck you, Chelsea and your racist fans.
That’s all for today, folks. I’ll be back to review the game tomorrow. Until that time, why not pop down your predictions in the comments section.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.