The enormously important day is upon us. Trembling bowels, obliterated fingernails, cold sweats and bouts of thunderous anxiety; I’ve got them all and kick-off is hours away. The significance of today might be mocked by those with greater prizes already secured, but to us Gooners it not only means another season of Champions League football, but finishing above that rowdy mob of second-stringers from next door. A win is vital, anything less is unthinkably awful.
And there have been a few developments since I spoke to you last. Mikel Arteta’s chances of featuring in any way still appear slim. Waiting in the wings to play before surgery and under the influence of painkillers is Jack Wilshere. I’m not sure that’s a particularly good idea. It’s obvious Jack isn’t fit. We have Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla as an option for the central 3, and their fitness levels are high. Risking Wilshere, regardless of the games importance, could easily be as much a hinderance as it is a help.
Olivier Giroud returns from suspension and is expected to go straight back into the team, and we have no other injuries to report – other than Abou Diaby, who has fractured or ruptured 13 different areas of his anatomy in the type it took me to type his name.
I’d guess we will line up like this, but I do expect when push comes to shove Arsene will see fit to play Wilshere:
On paper, that’s a team that should comfortably dispatch a Newcastle team that haven’t been at the races all season. However, our opponents have some ‘incentives’ to win today. Owner, Mike Ashley, has bizarrely offered a £1m bonus to all non-footballing staff should The Toon beat us. As is often the case, the major news outlets have pounced on that and magically transformed it into something else.
Had he offered that kind of cash to his players, then you have a story. Quite what the non-footballing staff are going to do influence the result is beyond me – although, I shouldn’t mock lest we hear stories of Newcastle’s tea lady assaulting Gervinho with a slice of Battenburg.
On the playing side, Newcastle could finish as high as 10th, or as low as 17th depending how the results pan out. The difference in revenue for that is something in the region of £5m , so their a certainly a few financial reason for Newcastle to perform.
And we have absolutely got to assume that they are going to.
They have quite a few players that are capable of doing damage should the mood take them. Alan Pardew may have comfortable won ‘Dumb-Ass of the Year’ when he spluttered out this nugget of hilarity,
“I don’t care if Arsenal beat us 4-0 as long as the fans are happy”
but we have to walk out onto the pitch alert and ready to battle for each, every and any ball. Anything other than 100% focus and commitment as unacceptable – well, it is as far as I’m concerned.
And that’s about all there is to report. It’s going to be a nervy, painful afternoon of flipping around other matches and hoping they don’t matter in the slightest. The task is simple; win, and we finish where we want to be. It may not be pretty, enjoyable or memorable, but I don’t care. Just get there, Arsenal. It would be nice if you could do it having won 5-0 at a canter, though – for the sake of my sanity and bowels, at the very least.
The comments await below for all your thoughts and hopes for the day. How to you expect us to line-up? would you risk Jack if Arteta does miss out? Are you as restless and nervous as I am? Let me know.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.