Match day is here. The international interferences are a blip in our rear view mirrors, a speck on the horizon as we speed towards the glory of Arsenal and the Premiership. Today we face Hull City at the Emirates, a team I have fond memories of facing.
I recall that day last May vividly; the heat of the bar in Bristol where I watched the game, the horrendous stag-do I was attending at the time and the ill-advised, stifling Cowboy attire I was wearing. Most of all I recall the wonderfully contrasting emotions experienced and the speed total disarray turned into hope and then unbridled elation. That FA Cup Final was a long time coming but it was worth the wait.
Some 5 months on from that day quite a bit has changed. A few heroes are currently injured and we have one or two news faces upon which we pin our hopes. One thing that’s been ever present over the past years is injuries and today is no different.
The team news is a mixed bag. Defensively we are going to field a back four that would have me cowering in horror if today’s fixture was away from home and against a side challenging for the league title. Laurent Koscielny joins Debuchy on the sidelines and thanks to his cavalier approach to tackling, Calum Chambers sits this one out due to suspension. Diaby, Walcott and Gnabry all turned out for our U21s last night and came through unscathed, but all 3 will not feature today. Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud remain the 2 other long-term absentees. Captain Mikel Arteta returns to the squad.
My guess at how we’ll line-up is this:
Truthfully, on paper at the very least, that defence terrifies me. Nacho Monreal at centre back is likely to cause my bowels considerable distress the moment anyone with pace and strength runs toward him. Young Hector Bellerin has bags of potential but I’m not entirely sold on his ability to make the step up to regular first team football. In the two games he has played competitively, he has looked shaky and easily pressured.
Hull will fancy their chances. If I were the opposition manager, I’d target the defence for high balls, set pieces and look to put them under as much pressure as possible. Steve Bruce may look like a poorly bleached scrotum, but he doesn’t miss a trick when it comes to the implementation of tactics designed to upset Arsenal. Make no mistake, Hull’s players will look at that back four and fancy their chances of scoring.
As the saying goes, our best form of defence today will be attack. Offensively we can field the players to cause them immeasurable troubles and keep the ball for long periods. Maintaining possession is all well and good, but doing something productive with the ball when we have it is an area we’ve flattered to deceive in recent weeks.
It could be a tough game. Most are predicting a formulaic triumph for Arsenal, but I’m a little less confident. I think we will win, but I can envisage one of those afternoons where stressful expletives are abound and my temperature rockets between either extreme. I’ll predict a 2-1 win with Hull scoring first.
That’s all for today, folks. Should you wish to join me later on, I’ll be doing a little bit of live tweeting in conjunction with the lovely folks and Football Fan Cast and their sponsors Europcar. All you have to do to join me is follow the tweets from my Twitter account or search the hashtag ‘AFCLive’.
I shall return tomorrow with a review of the game and discuss whatever else might tickle my fancy. The comments section awaits you below, and there you may offer your thoughts on the team and predict the result. How would you line-up? Who will score first? Let me know what you think.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.