Big game today for Arsenal Football Club. Just like it was with the Udinese game, this clash with Swansea is another big one. Not because of the size of the opponent but more because of the timing of the match.
This is the first match since the drubbing to Manchester United. Naturally the outcome of this match would dictate whether these players and this team will be able to recover from such a demoralising defeat. This is also the first match since a glut of new players were brought into the club. Depending on whether they get the minutes in this game of another one, it would justify/question our money splurge.
Let’s be frank here. I know Swansea are in their first ever Premier League season having just come up from the Championship. They came through via the play-offs and it was the only game I saw of them. Under Brendan Rogers, they play a game that is very pleasing on the eye.
If we are Barcelona-lite, then they are Arsenal-lite. Swansea has maintained the pacy and quick passing even in the top flight. They’ve only lost once this season and drawn the other two games. Not too shabby for a newly promoted team. Yet, it would be their folly to come to Ashburton Grove and hope to get a result by maintaining the same tactics.
On to team news then. Alex Song and Gervinho will both be serving the last of their domestic ban following the Newcastle game. Thomas Vermaelen will be out for 1 to 2 months after his surgery. Tomas Rosicky will also be out after getting kicked in the recent game for Czech Republic. There’s at least some good news regarding Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott who have both been declared fit for this game. That should see us line-up as below;
Of the new boys, only Mikel Arteta will be likely to start today. Yossi Benayoun will probably lose out to Andrey Arshavin in the toss up on who gets the wide left of the attacking triumvirate. Meanwhile Per Mertesacker should come in for the injured Vermaelen. Whether he takes the left or right hand side of the central defence is still unknown. Haven’t seen too much of Werder Bremen to tell but when partnered with Arne Friedrich for Germany, Mertesacker gets the right spot.
Big game for the German international. For as long as the recent trophy drought has gone on, everyone has been clamouring for Wenger to get a big towering centreback. How well that would work against a side that will use less of the direct route and more of the playing the ball on the ground, will be an interesting one to look forward to. There’s been questions over Mertesacker’s turn of pace and such is the nature of the opponent today, those questions might just be answered.
Going back to Arteta, of the 5 that we signed during the recent transfer window, he would be considered the marquee one. Quite looking forward to see how he fits into our style of play. And also wondering how long it would take for us to drill his shooting habits out of him (yes, it’s a joke but one with an ironic flavour to it).
There’s no beating around the bush here. Our start to the season has not been spectacular by any accounts. We’ve received a real hiding during that period as well. Yet, it is not all dark and gloomy. The season could still very well turn out to be a very promising one.
Time to put the disappointment of losing our best players and the anguish of a massive defeat to a direct title rival. Time to put aside talks of winning something or anything and just concentrate on getting the all important 3 points. As long as we continue to win every game, we’ll see where it takes us to, in the end.
For today, pride needs to be restored. Come on Arsenal!!!!