At my gainful employment, I have the fortune to work with a father and son duo of Southampton fans. Unlike the Liverpool contingent there, both tend not to be rabid enthusiasts and blinded by their own allegiance. However, I always seem to find myself a touch more concerned about the outcome when supporters of rival teams in my personal life are involved.
Tonight we face a very tricky test. Southampton at St Mary’s used to be a fixture I wouldn’t have considered all that daunting. This season, with their impressive defensive record, The Saints are an altogether different proposition. Add a few handy players in creative positions to that stability and you have a team that are capable of mixing it with most when on their own turf.
We could be in for one of those evenings in which I have to repeatedly, and completely unnecessarily, inform you all of the swirling vortex of nerves that is my bladder. The games against the big-games are often labelled as ‘deciders’ by the media who like to add a little extra spice to proceedings. Make no mistake, folks; games like tonight are equally as important.
The team news brings with it a few nuggets of good news. Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen all return to the squad. Of the 3, I imagine only Ramsey will take his place in the starting line-up. Theo Walcott watches eagerly from the sidelines whilst Abou Diaby and Yaya Sanogo have decided to open a small independent cinema in Oxford and show re-runs of their favourite action films. Tonight they’ll be too busy ushering the public in to watch a Chuck Norris marathon and will not take part in the game.
Having fielded a surprisingly strong side to dispatch Coventry it’s difficult for me to predict how Arsene will line the players up. It’s a fairly safe bet Olivier Giroud will come in for Nicklas Bendtner up front. Does Lukas Podolski’s brace on Friday warrant inclusion tonight? As much as I like to see Poldi play, I fear he’ll be on the bench.
My ill-educated guess would be:
Arsenal are spoilt for choice in midfield. I could quite easily make a case for including Serge Gnabry or Tomas Rosicky (I’m not sure ‘Little Mozart’s’ splattered nose has repaired itself yet) in the team for tonight. Perhaps deploying Ramsey in the wide right area does limit him slightly, but his overall work-rate gives us a greater level of cover. I wouldn’t say him playing there is something I consider as ideal, but I figure if Arsene sees the merits of doing so, then I probably should as well.
I shall stick my head on the line and say Arsenal will win this 2-1, but I’m expecting a very close game. Perhaps if Southampton are a little adventurous and eager to please their own fans we might see a lot of joy on the counter. Our defence is solid, a great deal may depend on the magic of Cazorla and Ozil. Should those two be on top of their respective games, we’ll certainly create a few chances to score.
That’s all from me today. The comments await your thoughts below. Drop me a line with your predictions and thoughts on how the team should take to the field. I’ll be back tomorrow with a report on the game.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.