It’s fair to say that both sides would have preferred to approach Saturday’s NLD in better form. After a good run we’ve now lost three of our last four in the league, the home side have won just one of their last four. Disappointing results all round. It’s early days of course but Everton’s uncharacteristic sprint from the traps has currently put them in pole for fourth. Neither of us is presently in a Europa League qualifying position let alone a Moneybags one, it’s the supporters of West Ham and West Brom who will be dreamily looking at their set top boxes wondering if they can get ITV4.
There’s much unrest in the coffee shops and bistros of Maidstone, Guildford and Aylesbury where loyal gooners are unhappy with Wenger’s description of qualifying for the Moneybags League as number four in his list of trophies (has he forgotten the Johnstone’s Paint?). A group calling themselves the Black Scarf Movement hope to stage a march before the game against Swansea in December where they’ll call for changes in the boardroom, steps to introduce an atmosphere into the vacuum, less expensive tickets – one of their demands is that the away fans are moved out of the cheap seats which is a bit of a shocker given that it’s costing us an outrageous £62 a head – and a return to their roots as it’s easier to get back to the provinces from Woolwich. (I made that last one up). This particular group aren’t calling for Wenger’s head, a bit of googling doesn’t take long to find dissent elsewhere though of a level unimaginable only a few years ago.
All that doesn’t mean that we should go into the game with any huge amount of optimism though. Arsenal’s problems stand a chance of being alleviated by players returning from injury this weekend, ours are only likely to be exacerbated as we struggle with hamstrings, hips and highly strung egos. The calls for 4-4-2 seem optimistic given AVB’s liking for a solid (and rigid) shape so whatever players are fit after the trip to Man City and the internationals are likely to be asked to fill the normal 4-2-3-1 formation. According to Gary Neville last week we are “ideally set up to counter attack away from home”. It may have looked that way at 1-0, in the second half though we got pushed back and could find no way of relieving the pressure, so not so ideal then.
“Steve Bould’s done wonders with the defence” was the refrain on all gooner lips a few weeks ago, now there are rumours that a switch to 5 at the back is on the cards due to the repeated frailties. In Bale, Lennon, Adebayor and Defoe (not to mention goal machine Caulker) we have the capability of taking advantage of their weaknesses. An early goal would get the crowd on their backs and who knows what would happen next? Personally though (especially with Howard Webb as the ref), I think a draw would be a fine and encouraging result. COYS.
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