Hope the fumigators are booked in; it’s the Gooners at White Hart Lane tomorrow. Actually we may be able to save on some overtime costs by getting the decontamination done early as it’s a lunchtime kick-off – the cafés and bistros of Guildford, Reading and Maidstone will no doubt be losing some weekend brunch custom.
The South Londoners come to us in relatively good shape given their ropey start to the season. They’re one place and two points above us having won seven of their last eight including tricky visits to Citeh and the Hamsters. Sanchez, Giroud and Cazorla, that well known Mariachi band, have scored some important goals whilst their back four has been going through one of those patches where it appears that Wenger does know something about defending after all. Don’t be fooled, the selection of Bellerin and Coquelin has improved their back line but would’ve been done quicker by a Ronco Random Team Selector than the ‘Professeur’. Remember Stoke, Anderlecht, Swansea and Southampton? All shocking displays and all within the last couple of months.
They are the same old Arsenal; lightweight, tippy tappy, fragile and unreliable, still waiting for Walcott to achieve, Wilshere to finish his fag, for a keeper who doesn’t suffer from dropsy and with a manager who in his own head can do no wrong. Ever. Nope. Not ever. If it weren’t for the performances of Sanchez their grip on Wenger’s fourth place trophy would be even looser than it is.
And speaking of over-reliance on one man, it’s a shame that the news that Harry signed a new contract was our dominant story in the transfer window, I was really hoping for the addition of some speed up front, but it is of course a great boost. Add Mason, Bentaleb, new boys Alli and Yedlin, youngsters Pritchard, Onomah, Winks and Oduwa and we have a fine young foundation to build on and that’s even without Eriksen, Lloris, Vertonghen and whoever else we might be able to persuade to stay or indeed come by wielding pictures of a shiny new stadium and details of our cut of the new Premier League TV contract.
We remain something of a curious work in progress of course, but it’s surprising how much of a second favourite the bookies make us in this game. With Paddy Power we are 11/5 to win and 6/5 to lose, I think it’s far more even than that. We are one paced, move the ball sideways too much, are far too dependant on Hugo at the rear to be totally convincing and we followed putting five past Chelsea with a draw and a loss to Burnley and Palace so cannot be considered consistent even though we’ve lost just one of our last 9 league games. There is though a team ethic and a sense that enough key players have ‘bought in to the project’ and that they produce their best often enough to give those in the second tier the belief they need to perform well. Notwithstanding the goals of Eriksen and Chadli, all the players though are being dragged along in Harry Kane’s wake.
Everyone is fit and relatively rested, as a result we’ll get a good clue as to what Pochettino sees as his best side.
Martin Atkinson is the referee – he is not our friend, remember Wembley 2012. Thankfully we now have goalline technology.
Let’s be aggressive and strong and determined and leave all timidity and doubt in the away dressing room. Give it our all and we have every chance of carrying the day.
I’m nervous already myself. COYS.
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