Happy Valentines day melts. I hope you’ve messed it up big time. That bargain aisle you picked up a bottle of half price Echo Falls, a teddy bear and a bar of limited edition Galaxy in… yeah, doesn’t feel so smart now eh? I’m glad you’re all in the dog house. You can come out and drink with me… all. Night. Long. What a spectacular night we’ll have.
Anyway, in the wake of yesterday’s post, and considering Jesus would have wanted love to be spread on his second fave birthday, I’ve decided to switch those blinkers on and deal with the season we have ahead of us.
Now, here be some realities for the Sunday game you’re going to really like. Arsene loves the Champions League almost as much as he loves his Tesco Clubcard, so Bayern holds more priority than his own children right now. The Germans have had the most ridiculously easy run of game heading into our clash this weekend. They’ve been able to rest and rotate because they’ve a manager who does that… and they’ve played 4 of the bottom
Wenger will know that we’ll play a fresh German side, so he’ll have no choice but the bring players in from the cold this weekend. That means we’ll have desperately fresh fringe players looking to make a massive point. Nik B, who has been left out in the cold again will make his way back into the side, Podolski, whom I told you was out of favour with the manager in the summer should land a game if Arsene overlooks his minor bout of justified petulance in the week. We should see Gnabry back in the fold if he’s proved himself in training and I’d expect to see Flamini return (suspension complete, right?)… and I think that’s about all we can bring to the table right?
Liverpool on the other hand have a problem. They played a high paced pressing game against Arsenal, then they played a tough game against Fulham with virtually the same side… so realistically, Rodgers has to rotate his side. It’s highly doubtful he’ll be able to set his side out to play at the same intensity he did at the weekend because his players won’t have recovered. So however we look at the game, the chances are it won’t be the same as last weeks… we have a very good chance to progress and thankfully Wenger has a forced rest in place.
For me, the next important game is Sunderland. The likelihood is that Bayern will destroy us, I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. Pep doesn’t tend to send out weak teams, his sides are always packed to the rafters with power and pace… and for me, that’s what makes this current Bayern so damn scary, they’re a more powerful direct version of his fantastic Barcelona side. It’ll be interesting to see how we cope. There’s always the hope of an upset, however, I just feel they have so much and we’re not exactly in peak physical condition, nor can we boast having our best players available.
So that’s why the Sunderland game is so important. We need to take three points there. If we drain ourselves trying to win the FA Cup and Champions League with first team and drop points to Sunderland, that really will be disappointing. After them, we have a more of a gap between games. We play Stoke away and Swansea at home. Then it’s Bayern again, then it’s Spurs.
Now, they’re in great form, no doubt about that. However, they’ve fluked out quite a bit of late. They didn’t deserve to beat Everton and the Newcastle team they played at the weekend had about 7 players out compared to the team we played in December. So I’d expect the Sherwood renaissance to unravel soon… especially as their squad will find itself tested. They have a nasty away game at Dnipro, a club that sounds like a 1980s budget football boot… then, if everything works out and they win, I think they should be playing Benfica in the next round of the Europa league before us. Hopefully that’ll slow them down a bit…
Then it’s Chelsea.
The great news about the Chelsea game is that they have their Champions League game in-between playing us because they’re on the alternate weeks fixture. That could go to extra time or penalties, which would be utterly perfect. It’d be even better if they pick up a few injuries along the way. They’ve lucked out there. If Ramires or Hazard pick up knocks, they’re really struggling.
Then we have a nice 7 day rest before we play City… which, lucky for us, is preceeded by a Manchester Derby on the Tuesday night. So again, we’ll have the upper hand when it comes to freshness.
So whilst the next 6 weeks look horrible and there are no guarantees, we have a lot of factors working in our favour… if the manager wakes up and starts rotating his squad and rattles a bit of urgency into side.
Right, take that, digest it and see me in the comments. Happy V-day, we’ll have a guest post from Gambon joining you at lunch time on striker analysis.