So we’ll start with some of the not-so-fun-news. Then I’ll crack into the preview.
The Sun reckon Arsenal are going to offer Liverpool £8million plus Theo to lure Sterling to Arsenal. Honestly… can you imagine? There’s no chance of Liverpool letting their prized asset leave. We’ve got more chance of landing Suarez as part of a deal. Wenger has been speaking about the player and his deal and it doesn’t sound good.
‘You think I’m not fed up? I want them to stay,” he said. “He [Walcott] was fantastic last year in this game. He will certainly be again.’
‘Its always important to keep your best players. If that should happen we’ll replace him with someone – another big name. Or make another big name.’
No, no, no, NO! This is where Wenger gets it all wrong. Theo isn’t a superstar to start with. He’s a good player who could make a living on Manchester City’s bench. He’s a player who has taken 7 years to get to 50 goals. So when Wenger talks about making a superstar, you have to seriously ask questions of him. Making stars at the expense of success, then letting them go at 23 is one of the most counter productive concepts going. Well, if you want to compete at the highest level that is.
Something else that’s counter productive? Gambling a season on a player who can’t be trusted to string 5 games together.
“The situation for Diaby is so frustrating and for us as well we started the season well with him in the team and since he has been out we have felt it,” he said of the 26-year-old who has managed to play just nine Premier League games in the last two seasons.
“He balances our team as he has stature and presence physically when he is there, but clearly his injury problems are a concern.
“I can tell you he has been everywhere in the world to be assessed. There is an explanation. He is quick, strong, has good stamina, good resistance to repeat, but his muscle strength is not good enough to deal with that. Sometimes little fibres go in his muscles, this is basically his problem.
“When you play every three days, you cannot rebuild your strength as you need to recover. When you don’t rebuild your strength, through the games you burn your fibres a bit and become weaker and weaker, so that means he gets injured.
“The second reason for his problems of course is his ankle. Since he was slaughtered at Sunderland, his mobility in his ankle has been affected.”
A very interesting quote, but surely all the factors contained within were abundantly clear before August 31st? If we have all this medical opinion that points to him being broken on multiple levels, shouldn’t we be purchasing another midfielder who fits the same mould? It seems beyond comprehension that we haven’t attempted to replace him over the last 5 summers? Anyway, I hope this is the last season we put up with this and I double hope, if there is such a phrase, he isn’t given an injury special contract (The contract that looks great value if he finds his stride / terrible value if he spends another 5 years crocked).
North London Derby day has arrived. It doesn’t matter how atrocious your teams form has been in the build up to one of these games, because it counts for nothing. Form goes out the window, all sense of what is normal disappears… and don’t we all absolutely love it?
Arsenal vs United has lost is appeal of late, this game certainly hasn’t. There are always goals, there is always controversy and there’s usually quite a lot of Arsenal joy attached to these days out. Arsene Wenger is under pressure, but not as much as some of the players. We have a glut of superstars who have gone missing over the last few weeks. Today, there are not excuses. We don’t have any injuries of note. The only place we’re looking short is at left back. Returning to the side today should be Chezzer and hopefully Chamblerlain. For me, there should be no place for Aaron Ramsey, I don’t want to see him creeping into the front 3 and I certainly don’t want to see him occupying a space in the midfield.
That’s where I think we have the biggest battle today. We have three very small but technically gifted centre midfielders. It’s early days, but the trio of Jack, Arteta and Cazorla hasn’t looked good so far. They’re all kind of similar which gives us a real unbalanced look. They need to find their passing pace early today and they need to press Spurs like a pack of terriers from the off. They simply have to give cover to the defence as well. When you have department that’s on it’s knees, sometimes a bit of extra vigilance and attention goes a long way.
Our backline need to man up as well. This quivering mess of a unit we’ve had to suffer over the last few weeks is starting to grind. Sometimes, when things are going badly, you just have to say ‘f*ck it, I’m going to go out there and enjoy myself’. That’s what the back four have to do today. They need to keep things tight. Do the basics well, leave the fancy stuff to the people who are paid to do exactly that. We can’t have a captain with confidence issues. He’s supposed to exude leadership. He’s the one the rest of the team look to for that inspiration. We need him to show he’s versatile and gifted, which he’s more than capable of.
The front three of Giroud, Podolski and Theo need to help the midfield. Too many times this season a total lack of movement up front has cut short our attacking options. Back in the day, this wouldn’t have been a problem. You had two or three locksmiths who could make possession on the edge of the area count. I’m not sure we have that this season. Or maybe we do, but the players doing the unlocking are out of sorts. Theo needs to be hanging off the last man where he can and he needs to switch up wings whenever he can. He plays best when he’s not thinking. He has to make his decisions quickly and stick with them. If he’s not played centrally, what he mustn’t do is make a play for the central role all game. We’re not a threat if we don’t have width. Giroud is built for crosses. When we’re serving them up, he looks dangerous. I thought he had his best game against Fulham. He needs to take to the pitch pumped. He was unplayable at times in the last game. Strong in the air, very good on the floor and always looking to have a pop at goal. Hopefully that £12million price tag will look VFM after today.
The attitude of the team will directly influence the attitude of the crowd. Though I hope it doesn’t need to. Fans are already heading into this tie with a negative mindset. I appreciate it’s justified, but if you go into something beaten, you’ve got no chance. We wouldn’t expect it of the players, so let’s not head into the ground quiet and sombre. We need to lift the roof of the Emirates, if we do and it doesn’t work out, well, then we’ve done our bit for the side.
I think we’re going to win this. Most of the Spurs fans I was speaking to last night think the same. Let’s hope it’s a thunderous affair!
Gunners globally… have a great day!