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Clichy will be hoping that there is no need to cover his face tonight

If there is one thing in this world that is absolute, it is statistics. As they say, numbers don’t lie simply because they can’t. When a team wins by 1 goal, it is win by 1 goal. No one can argue otherwise. So when mathematics tells me that Arsenal will win the league this season, I’m a believer. Then it’s up to the players themselves to back up those numbers.

It always begins with the next game and that tonight is Newcastle. They are currently in 9th position in the league with identical record home and away. Margins not withstanding, they have won, drawn and lost exactly the same number of times at home and on the road. Their 2 away wins came at Goodison Park and Upton Park, we’re lucky that our stadium does not end with Park. The South Korean namesake fired Manchester United to victory yesterday but here, we don’t believe in coincidence or precedence.

We make our own fortune and Arsenal will need to forget that loss at Ukraine in midweek and bounce back to at least maintain our distance to league leaders Chelsea. The cause will be very much lifted by the return of 4 midfielders in Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Denilson and Andrey Arshavin; importance in that particular order. We must not forget that Jack Wilshere also returns to the domestic fold after his suspension, although he did play in midweek. I’m expecting a strong line-up like this;

Fabianski

Sagna—Squillaci—Koscielny—Clichy

Fabregas—Song—Wilshere

Walcott—Chamakh—Nasri

Barring Thomas Vermaelen and Robin Van Persie, that looks like the strongest line-up that Arsene Wenger can parade this season. Speaking of the two, Vermaelen has resumed training and should feature soon while Van Persie is even quicker as he had the luxury of one full training and looks set for a place on the bench.

Gael Clichy will have to get past his nightmare mistake which contributed to Eduardo’s winning goal for Shakhtar and just get on with the game. I know that our team likes to get the ball out of danger by playing it out. When it works we applaud it but when it doesn’t, more often that not, it’s going to cost us. It’s not a part of our game that should be cut out as it could also lead to effective counter attacks. However, these players themselves should be able to make judgements on when to hoof the ball away and when to play it forward. I know it’s not easy but that’s what they are being paid to do.

I’m also hopeful that Theo Walcott gets a chance to stake a first team spot. With the form that Arshavin is in, we need someone out there who could be challenging him and keep him on his toes just like how Wilshere has been doing that to Denilson. Jose Enrique is not the fastest of defenders and that is where we can exploit Newcastle. I’ve seen a couple of their games this season and if I have to mark someone out to be wary about, it has to be Jonas Gutierrez. The Argentinian has bags of pace and I’m sure Bacary Sagna would prefer Walcott supporting him rather than the sometimes lazy Arshavin.

This match will also see old boy, Sol Campbell returning to the Grove. It would not be his first since leaving Arsenal as last season was not the first time he signed for us. I think everyone will give him a good reception after his endeavours at the tail-end of last season. His first departure left a sour note but his second departure has surely left everyone in good terms. I guess that brings some sort of a happy closure for him as well as the fans. If your at the stadium, cheer him for me would ya.

I don’t think we or even the players should expect an easy ride in this game. Arsenal may have thumped Newcastle at St James Park barely 11 days ago but that is somewhat a second string side compared to what Chris Hughton will put out tonight. We need to keep our momentum going and if it turns out to be another winner in the 88th minute, then so be it. Hardly good for my heart but I’ll accept that.

On a side note, if you are looking to get the new Arsenal home or away jersey, you can find it here at Soccerpro. They’ve got the latest on the Arsenal apparels and even DVDs. Since my futsal shoes have opened up like a crocodile mouth, I myself am very interested to this pair as replacement. They’ve also got loads of other football related merchandises and yes, even stuffs from other teams. So, do have a look there.

Till tomorrow.

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