Upton Park is where our focus is today. Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham faces exactly the same turmoil as Arsenal’s previous opponent, AZ Alkmaar, financially stuttering that is.They have sold close to 10 players since last year just to offset some of the monetary difficulties but have kept virtually the core of the team in Robert Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, David Noble and Carlton Cole. They are currently second from bottom in terms of the table and have lost their last 2 games at home. Form would suggest that this would be a walk in the park for Arsenal and I believe the final result will show so although I won’t bet against a customary dogged performance from West Ham.
Meanwhile Arsenal coming off their first draw of the season will look to build on the winning run in the Premier League. With Liverpool and Man United facing each other tonight and our sorry arch-rival losing yesterday to Stoke, it’s another chance to bridge the gap to the top and put some distance between the chasing pack below. Eduardo returns though I suspect only on the bench, while no further news whether Nicklas Bendtner will make the match or not and Tomas Rosicky misses out his second successive match in a row. So I think the lineup will resemble the one that took the pitch at DSB Stadion.
It’s been a pretty stable lineup for Arsene Wenger this season thus far. The midfield trio has been practically the same for the exception of th early season appearance of Denilson before he succumbed to injury. And it is with this consistency that title winning runs can be build upon. We all remember the Vieira-Petit or Vieira-Gilberto axis which rarely miss games. Players who lineup next to each other week in week out will always breed familiarity. And with familiarity comes understanding of each other’s game. For instance, the last couple of weeks have seen a marked improvement in the combination of Song and Diaby. If I’m honest, it is almost Vieira-Petit like, though not quite at that level yet. Given chance, that target can be reach. The 2 have dovetailed nicely in covering the space in midfield. Each taking turns to drop deep and support whenever the other is on the offensive.
Tonight the threat will come from the lone figure of Cole, of which I expect the duo of Gallas and Vermaelen to deal with easily. Wenger spoke about defensive stability and that we will concede fewer goals this season. Although in truth we have already conceded 11 goals in 8 Premier League games. Not a number that we are dully worried about at the moment considering that 4 of those goals came in a single match. So typically, Arsenal have conceded on an average a goal a game. If for us to win the championship, Wenger’s prediction must come true. Our defense must be made a fortress and hopefully the Song-Diaby axis will help us achieve that. Their battle tonight is with Noble-Parker. The latter are both tenacious in the play and will dive into every challenge every chance they get. Our boys will need to be aware of this and be ready to put in challenges of their own.
A win for us tonight will see us climb above Spurs with a gap of 2 points with a game in hand. Now for the boys to make sure that happen. Enjoy the game wherever your watching.