Crystal Palace, Alexis Sanchez, Virgil Van Dijk and Festive Stuff.

I am currently a mess of over-consumption. Christmas has that effect on me and many others; there’s some peculiar draw to being utterly glutenous and slovenly, only to be hit with the stark realisation that all that behaviour isn’t especially helpful. This leaves the only sensible course of action to be making promises of a healthier lifestyle in the new year to which you can’t possibly hope to adhere. Tis the season to be jolly.

Jolly isn’t an emotive state you’d associate with Arsenal at present (that is a faultless segue). Just when things begin to look up and we appear to be turning over a fresh new leaf of challenging, something happens. Something always happens. I guess us supporters are burdened with over-expectation; the glorious irony of Arsene Wenger’s detractors is that it’s the brilliant initial success he had at Arsenal which serves as the dizzying heights we now expect. Of course, all of that is nothing new. it’s the same merry-go-round we experience every season.

So what else isn’t particularly new? Well, there’s Alexis Sanchez. He kinda looks like he doesn’t give a sh*t at the moment. Maybe that’s just an altered perception based on the fact he wanted to leave in the summer. Perhaps I’m easily lead by reports of his disruptive influence at the training ground. Either way, I can’t help but think we should have taken the reported £60-70m Manchester City offered in the summer – with or without a replacement. If there’s a reasonable offer over January then we should absolutely do the same. I’d be surprised if he has even the slightest intension to sign a new contract with Arsenal so get whatever you can for him as soon as possible. I can’t imagine even the most vehement of Wenger’s faultfinders would be sad to see Sanchez leave in January.  Yes – they’ll mention the fact our two biggest stars are 6 months away from leaving for free and they’d be absolutely right. – that is undeniably stupid.

Today Liverpool have completed the signing of Virgil Van Dijk for an absurd £75m. There’s no doubt the Dutchman is a solid defender who will strengthen their backline. However he’s largely untested at the highest level and not the quickest over the ground. A great deal of Arsenal fans seem angry we didn’t move for him ourselves when Liverpool had to back off earlier this year. As with Liverpool, our defensive issues go far deeper than just one player, and a new arrival won’t change things. It’ll help, undoubtedly, but Wenger and Klopp are not renowned for their cautious approach.

So that’s the crumbs of news. Today we have the delight of a match to think about. We make the relatively short trip across London to face Crystal Palace which should be an formulaic 3 points but probably will be anything but. Palace have good players, but their form is topsy-turvy and they’re just as likely to be utterly woeful as they are a challenge. On the team news, we’re without Giroud, Ramsey and Montreal with assorted ailments. Santi Cazorla was recently sighted rustling about the biscuits section of a Tesco Express, but hasn’t been seen since. Alexis Sanchez might not play either because he was spotted in Paris having some “time off” 2 days ago…

My guess is we’ll stay with 4 at the back and Mustafi will start. I don’t think Kolasinac is injured so I expect he’ll come in for Maitland-Niles who has done a decent job filling in. Wilshere will start in midfield and the rest kind of pick themselves because of the unavailability of the others.

It’s near impossible to predict games involving Arsenal, but I shall endeavour to try nonetheless. Arsenal betting news and tips seem to have us pegged as the likely winners, so I’ll go with the majority. There’s an optimistic swagger about me today so I’m going to go for a 4-0 thumping with Lacazette bagging 3 and a classic Danny Welbeck shinned finish for the 4th.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Soundtrack to this post:

Dunkirk official soundtrack – Hans Zimmer

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