Today sees Arsenal play Birmingham at St. Andrews and it is a return to the scene where 2 years ago, Eduardo got his leg broken in two different spots in the early minutes of the game. Safe to say, ever since that horrific injury, he has not return to the same player that he was prior to that incident. From being the most laid-back prolific and accurate striker in the league, his confidence has taken a knock back since that.
Even today, a full year since his return to competitive football, we have not seen the best of the Croat born Brazilian. However, in all likelihood, Eduardo might not be featuring in tonight’s game unless absolutely necessary. We all want some form of retribution for him but tonight should not be about that. Tonight should be about Arsenal getting the 3 points in the bag and continue our chase for the title.
We are the first of the title chasing trio to play this weekend and with all 3 teams having played the same number of games, a win here would exert some form of pressure on the two. That is by no means an easy task. Birmingham sits in the 9th place in the league standings and have only lost a meagre 2 matches at home. That were in the early part of the season and they have remained unbeaten since October at St. Andrews. However, Arsenal are perhaps facing Birmingham at the best possible time. The Midlands side are not in great form lately and have only managed to get a draw while losing the other two of their last 3 games.
Also we are coming to a period where there is pretty much nothing for the Birmingham players to play for. They are 7 points behind Liverpool who occupies the last of the Europa League places and they are already out of both domestic cup competitions. With 44 points on the board, they are already too far ahead of to be caught by the relegation boys. The only thing that Birmingham players will be looking for is to show that they are worth their place for next season’s competition, what with new owner Carson Yeung looking to pump more money into the club next season. Let’s hope for our case, the ambition and fire is all gone.
On our part, judging from Wenger’s press conference on Thursday, it seems that we did not lose anyone from last week. Nicklas Bendtner was feared to be out but seemed to have recovered sufficiently to feature tonight. Losing him for the game will be bad, not only because he is in good form but also because he helps out during defending set-pieces and in Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, Birmingham possesses two central big central defenders who would be more than a handful to defend against. Notwithstanding the fact that if Bendtner misses, Arshavin will be the one up front and he will most certainly not win any headers against the pair.
One thing that Birmingham lacks is pace in attack. Wenger should have that in his mind when he stated that Campbell will start tonight’s game even with Barcelona looming in the horizon. Against Cameron Jerome who is a big tall striker, it should be bread and butter for our former England international. However, who stands beside him in defence in a worry. Silvestre have been a real pro with his work and attitude throughout the season, in spite of the rarity of games for him. Even with that, I still prefer Alex Song to be in the centre of defence. With Diaby available to cover in midfield, Song’s presence at the back will inspire more confidence than the ageing Frenchman. With that, I think the line-up more or less sets itself out.
This will be the first time that we will line-up in a league game this season without Vermaelen. We will miss him, that’s for sure. But we must not allow his suspension to prevent us from winning this game. We’ve come so far already, anything but a win would be a disaster. I will take a scrappy 1-0 win. We can’t play champagne football all the time.
Enjoy the game wherever you’re watching. Come on you Gunners!!!