Let’s just jump straight into the team news. Arsene Wenger will be without Lukasz Fabianski, Sebastien Squillaci, Bacary Sagna and Manuel Almunia for various reasons. Those that were rested for the cup games will likely play from the start, that being Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie. Here’s who I think will start;
Johan Djourou will have to soldier on and continue playing despite having a big risk having over his head. Playing so much football on such a continuous basis after his year long absence will take its toll. For us, hopefully that doesn’t happen until Squillaci or Thomas Vermaelen is back or someone else is signed. Emmanuel Eboue continue his recent bout of games but surely will be his last start, as Sagna returns from suspension for the next game.
Cesc Fabregas had an evening to forget at Ipswich and will look to put things right tonight. Fabianski failed a late fitness test and this hands the opportunity to Wojciech Szczesny to prove his worth. You’ve got to feel for Fabianski. That is just his luck. Just when everything seemed to going on an upward trend for him, getting injured will be the last thing he wants. It scares me to think that James Shea, the keeper who conceded 10 goals for the Reserves will be on the bench. I would not want to see Szczesny lying down on the ground.
Upton Park is the destination for tonight and West Ham is the opponent. I’m sure you will recall West Ham’s performance earlier in the season at the Grove. They are a side that will become a world beater on the day they face Arsenal but are able to get beaten rather easily in other games. They are a determined side with lots of fighting spirit, more so when Arsenal stands at the opposite end. Robert Green, as calamitous as David James in others games but becomes an overnight David Seaman against our strikers.
West Ham are in a decent run of form at the moment. They have only lost once in their last 7 games in all competitions. They’ve won 4 of those 7, including the midweek Carling Cup semifinal against Birmingham. However, that does not hide the fact that they are currently bottom of the Premier League, albeit only 3 points away from 15th position.
If anything, I believe West Ham have a poorer defence than us. This has to be exploited. Last season we came here and took a 2 goal lead only to be pegged back. I can still remember thinking after the match that the dropped points will haunt us and so it proved. Later on in the season, Wigan did one better and came back to win after being down by 2 goals. RvP and Nasri will have to use their freshness to find gaps in West Ham’s defence. Matthew Upson is not renown for his high level of concentration and our forwards’ movement will be crucial to unlocking their defence.
With Spuds welcoming Manchester United to London tomorrow. This could be a week where we can half the gap between us and United or better. We can all hope for our poor neighbours to do us a favour but it would count for nothing should we not win tonight. After 2 mediocre performances, it is high time the boys step it up again. This is a title chasing side against the team that is bottom of the league. Even if it is an away game, anything other than a win would be unacceptable.
Come on you Gunners!!!