Blind faith just knocked on the door and told me there’s a very good chance we could win today. I know you shouldn’t speak to strangers and you definitely shouldn’t believe what they’re telling you even if they are offering your sweets, but I’ve taken his good vibes on board and I’m feeling pretty confident of at least a point from today. In fact I’d say the vibe is quite strong amongst a lot of Gooners I’ve been speaking with.
The faith is justified to a certain degree. There’s only one team in better form than us over the last 6 games and that’s United. We lost against QPR last week, which wasn’t ideal, but let’s not forget all the goodness that went before us. We can’t lambast this squad as the most average for 15 years then act surprised when they slip up against weak opposition. These things happen when you’re not loaded with quality. In fact, these things happen when you are… City are in 4th form wise over the last 6 games. However, the really interesting part about their form is how they’re doing away from home. They’ve lost 3, drawn 1 and won 2. Teams they’ve lost against? Swansea, Sunderland and Everton. That gives me hope.
Something else that perked me up was watching their players fight on the pitch last week. Ballotelli is a very good player but he’s also incredibly selfish and absorbed in his own world of personal glory. The on pitch bickering and the rumours of infighting don’t serve up an image of a club united with the goal of winning the league. We need to take advantage of those issues today.
Now, I’ve checked the stats for how we do off the back of losing a game. We’ve lost 9 times so far in the league this season. The only time we’ve gone on a losing streak after failing to pick up points is against Liverpool which was followed by an absolute drubbing against United. Then Fulham which was followed by 2 losses on the bounce. We recovered from losing against Blackburn, Spurs and City with wins. So it’s feeling a bit 50/50ish today in terms of reaction. I think I’d prefer to be playing a big game today, something tells me the lack of motivation last week was the strength of opposition… hence the complacency. You can’t afford an attitude like that against a team sitting higher than you in the league.
We need to do two things today. Play at a high tempo from the off. We’ve had a tendency to be a second half team of late. We can’t afford to do that against City. Motivation needs to be there from the first whistle, not the second one after we’ve gone a goal down. We also need to defend properly. No sloppy mistakes. If we lose to a wonder goal, I can deal with that… if we lose because someone doesn’t have long enough studs, I’ll be annoyed.
We also need to have an on day so far as attacking play is concerned. I want to see Theo have a belter. Last time we played City he was schooled by Zabaleta all game. If he’s up against him today, I hope he skins him and shows the Premiership he is a good player who can perform against intelligent defenders. I don’t need to speak for Robin except to remind him that not scoring for three games is an absolute disgrace, if he doesn’t bag a hatrick to make up for it today, I’d seriously have to start considering my support for his contract extension.
Finally… Szczesny. He’ll have to be aware of a few things today. They will jump on any duff clearances he makes. They have quick thinking players who can have the ball in the back of the net in next to no time if a mistake is made. For me, distribution errors are a massive no no this far into a season. He needs to think about what he’s doing with the ball and he needs to cut out the little dinks. They’re not clever and no one in the ground thinks you’re cool for doing them. He also needs to get his positioning right and show total awareness around his box. City shoot on sight unlike us. That also means that Alex Song has to take a day off from being Zinedine Zidane. He needs to marshal just in front of his defence and he can’t give players like Zabaleta, Silva and Aguerro time to breath, let alone pick out their sweet spot from 25 yards.
Today is as much about discipline as it is about expressing ourselves as a team. The fans will play a huge roll in the outcome of the game. We’re at home, we need to let City know that with a hostile atmosphere like he have been for the last few weeks. It could be a magical Sunday… I want the reason I’m hungover tomorrow to be based around a thumping win, not total depression.
I watched Oxlade-Chambermaid on the BBC yesterday having a chat about his time at Arsenal so far. He sounds motivated, humble and extremely pleased to be at the club. The folly of youth eh? Soon it’ll be big screen TV’s, blunts and bi*ches… but until then, we’ll just enjoy his enthusiasm for the game. It was interesting to hear him talk about Thierry Henry and how he couldn’t believe he was telling jokes with such a legend. He also had high praise for Robin… he said he laughs when they’re on the same side in training because the stuff we see him do in the crucial moments in games, he does for fun everyday. Arsene… listen to that interview and make wise decisions this summer. Kids learn from adults… not other kids.
Sol Campbell said as much in his column for The Guardian yesterday…
‘Experienced internationals are what Arsenal need and it is strange Arsène has not signed more given he has seen the difference they can make. He inherited a squad full of such players; guys who were skilful but also tough and resilient, prepared to put their bodies on the line and wouldn’t think twice about doing it again. They were the foundations of the success Arsène has had at Arsenal.’
Absolutely bang on the money there Sol. He’s also pushing for a shake up of the backroom staff this summer. With Pat Rice on the way out, it would be great if he could bring in an ex-player who remembers how Arsene did it when he was one of the best in the game. That person needs to be a big character, needs to have a balls to suggest changes and make interventions when the coach is making mistakes and he needs to be trusted by the squad. Bergkamp doesn’t work for me. He’s a super intelligent guy but I’m not sure he’s too different in character to Arsene. Plus, he doesn’t fly. Patrick Vieira would be a fantastic addition to our backroom team. He’s a legend amongst the fans, he’s a modern day superstar of global football and he’s supposed to be quite sharp. I’d prefer Steve Bould though. He’s done his apprenticeship, he has a presence about him and he understands the power of Wenger’s style as well as the brawn of George Grahams. That for me is the perfect cocktail of experience. Sol did kind of ruin any hope of change with this line…
‘Sadly, I cannot see this happening. Arsène is a single-minded leader who does not like to have anyone around who could threaten his authority, either by challenging his decisions or by being the person that will eventually take his job. But hopefully he proves me wrong and makes such an appointment.’
Still, we can hope he’s jinxing it and that Pat Rice isn’t going to be replaced with Giles Grimantube. Talking of Youtube, did you catch the Arsenal players mincing around with the ballet girls? Nice to see Song is as mobile on the dance floor as he is on the pitch!
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