Do you ever get hit with terrible nerves before games? I do. It happens quite frequently, as a matter of fact. The feeling of discomfort, unease and weakness of bladder especially occurs when the big games against our grubby neighbours come around.
Like all of you, the thought of losing to Spurs is about as appealing to me as dancing provocatively in a bridesmaid’s dress for a sex-hungry Dave Seager. I’d have to turn off the Internet for at least a week should we lose today. Given that Arsene is known for prioritising certain competitions and we have quite a few notable absentees, it’s fair to say that I’m a little more concerned that I ordinarily would be.
So, what exactly is the team news?
Well, it’s not looking particularly good. Kieran Gibbs, Nicklas Bendtner and Aaron Ramsey are all out, and whilst there has been conflicting reports regarding the chances of Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud being available, it’s looking very unlikely either will feature at all. The Ox is edging cloer to a return to full training, which is excellent news for future fixtures, but Yaya Sanogo and Abou Diaby are currently embroiled in a lengthy Scrabble tournament and neither is expected to return to first team action until 2019.
Strangely, there have been several rumblings in the press that Gedion Zelalem could make his Arsenal debut today. However, throwing a youngster – regardless of how talented – straight into a pressure environment like the North London Derby doesn’t seem like something Arsene would do given we still have plenty of midfield options. I don’t doubt for a second the kid has all the potential in the world and could make a contribution, but a poor performance could greatly hamper his progress, and I don’t think it’s fair to put expectation on his shoulders. Even Cesc Fabregas was eased into first team games with a large degree of caution and careful selection.
It’s actually very difficult to predict how we’ll line up today. There has been talk of certain members of the squad who’ve played a lot of games being rested. Jack Wilshere, for example, has featured in two games within the space of four days, and Per Mertesacker has played a lot of football.
With that in mind, here’s my very best guess at how we’ll line-up:
I’ve selected Lukas Fabianski as Cup games are usually the matches in which Arsene likes to allow his reserve keeper some playing time. He may very well opt for Szczesny today, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we lined-up with our other ‘Pole in the Goal’. The first thing that strikes me about that team, given the injuries we have, is how light our substitutes bench is going to be. If Zelalem is going to feature, it could very well be there.
Predicting the outcome is equally as difficult. Current form and personnel tend to mean little in North London derbies. What we’re sure to see is a lot of passion and the occasional tackle flying in – hopefully The Flame won’t get an early bath for finishing Danny Rose off. Our home advantage does count for a lot. The league match with Spurs at the beginning of the season had a fabulous atmosphere and the players will be hoping to be buoyed on today by more of the same.
It’s very hard to say. I’m concerned because it’s Spurs and I always am in these situations. That doesn’t mean I don’t think we’ll win. I do, but it’s going to be very close. I can’t see any 5-2 victories today. I shall go for 2-1 to the Arsenal.
That’s all from me, folks. Wherever you’re reading and watching the game today, I hope you’re excited and up for it. The comments section awaits below, so why not share a few of your thoughts on how the team should line-up and what you think the score will be. I’ll look forward to reading a few when I get the chance.
Tomorrow I’ll be back with a review of the game. As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
PS. If you’re looking for some entertaining reading before the game today, I highly recommend you cast your beady eyes over this piece on Goonertastic. It’s written by occasional contributor to this site Dyllan Munro, and it’s certainly worth a few moments of your time. I laughed when I read it.