After a week that has seen a glorious triumph over Liverpool, a disappointing defeat in the Champions League and enough incandescent rage at a missed penalty to re-ignite a dying sun, it’s good to have some football to sink my teeth into. That doesn’t really make sense as an expression – I’m not chomping on the keyboard, trying to write with drool. I’m typing, my teeth are some distance from the keys. I’m now rambling. I should stop. I will.
Moving on to the game; Sunderland might fancy their chances today. Arsenal have to navigate quite a few distractions. Some have been unwelcome; an alleged bust up between Wilshere and The Flame, an allegation quickly, and hilariously, dispelled by Jack on his Twitter account. The other, and I don’t actually consider it a distraction, is the unveiling of a statue for Dennis Bergkamp, a player rightly put into the bracket of ‘God’.
The latter is a wonderful tribute to a magnificent servant to the club, but you can’t help but think it’s one of those things that might just take focus off the matter in hand; the winning of an important football match. Our opponents might be languishing in the relegation zone, but can boast a record of only having conceded 3 times in their last 6 fixtures away from home. They’ll be eager to crash the party and no pushovers at all.
Considering the exursions of Wednesday night, rotation of the players is likely. Mesut Ozil, despite the silly ‘lazy’ tags given to him, covered as much distance as anyone in that fixture and looks tired. I’d be very surprised if he featured from the start today. The inclusion of Lukas Podolski is something many fans have started to clamour for. However, I get the feeling Arsene will again leave him on the bench in favour of others. I don’t personally like seeing him appear to be frozen out, but it does seem to be what’s happening. That’s sure to upset a few folks, especially Darren…
Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, let Podolski start tomorrow
— Wrighty (@_Wrighty7) February 21, 2014
In other team news, Keiran Gibbs’ hamstring troubles sustained against Bayern look to keep him out for a couple of weeks, so Nacho Monreal will slip into the left-back position. I’d also hazard a guess we’ll see starts for Rosicky, Giroud and Arteta. Theo Walcott remains a figure on the sidelines for some time and Abou Diaby has fled the country to start a luxurious line of biscuits. He’s called his delicious treats “AbouFabulous” and early market testing has them scoring very highly with consumers across Southern Europe. He’ll probably miss the game due to promotional commitments.
My guess at the team will be:
Patience may be an important virtue today. As I mentioned earlier, Sunderland’s defensive record is fairly good and I don’t for a second assume we’ll be seeing our visitors adopt a cavalier approach. Those a few places down the table tend to come to The Emirates with a plan to stifle creativity and break wherever possible. I don’t think we’ll be looking at a performance where Arsenal come flying out of the traps, eager to make amends for the midweek defeat, even if that is how the vast majority would prefer to see the players start games – me included.
Caution is likely to take priority. For much of the season, games at home have consisted of a rather weak first half performance, significant improvement in the second and a 2-0 victory. At risk of tempting fate, that is exactly the way I see the game going tomorrow. Of course, now I’ve said that it’ll be a nerve-shredding 6-5 thriller involving 2 missed penalties, 3 red cards and a spontaneously combusting referee. Perhaps…
A win is all I care about at this stage. If it’s acquired by a goal bundled in off Szczesny’s backside in the 94th minute, I would not bat an eye lid. 3 points is what matters most, and after the past couple of days, I’ll take ’em any way I can get ’em.
That’s all for today, folks. The comments sections awaits you – how would you line-up the team and what are your predictions on the scoreline? Feel free to drop me a line or two with your thoughts. I’ll try to answer a few if I manage to get a bit of spare time. Those of us who chose the catering profession to earn a crust failed to see the amount of football that would be missed on account of being stuck cooking for the inconsiderate public. Those swines!
I shall return tomorrow at the usual time. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.