Since it’s the last day of 2011, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and may your target and aspiration be achieved next year. While everyone gets into their own party mood, there’s still a game to be played for Arsenal with Queens Park Rangers visiting the Grove. The players will have to keep their celebrations on hold as we look to go back to winning ways.
The last home game draw against Wolves and that represents dropped points in our quest to move up further in the league table. That result makes tonight’s game one which we cannot afford not to take all 3 points. The form and league table doesn’t suggest a different outcome than the one we hoped for. QPR are in poor form and I hope we don’t drop the ball twice in a space of a couple of days.
QPR are in 16th position in the table, just 2 spots away from the relegation zone. They’ve only won once at home and that was a 1-0 win over 9-man Chelsea. Even then, they were very lucky to scrap all 3 points. QPR has no major injury concerns with only Anton Ferdinand being the one they will miss the most. That could see old boy Matthew Connolly lining up against us. I still remember the excitement he caused when he was asked to train together with the England squad while he was still a reserves player for us. But he won’t be the only familiar face as Armand Traore is surely starting in the left back slot.
Heidar Helguson leads the league scoring charts for QPR with 7 goals. I don’t know the exact number but seemed to recall that most of his goals comes from headers. With Joey Barton already with 3 assists and the bad boy of English football has been known to have good delivery with his crosses, aerially is where the threat will be. Alejandro Faulin looks to be a very tidy player in the middle of the park but hopefully he won’t get much time on the ball to show it tonight.
Arsene Wenger seemed certain that he will field Robin Van Persie right from the start. That would’ve been a strange decision considering the fact that we will come up against Fulham in just 2 days time. Of the two, you will surely count the away trip to Craven Cottage being the tougher of the two games. Of course, it would justifiable if we go a couple of goals up in the first half and then RvP gets his well deserved rest. That would mean that there’s enough kept in the reserve tank for RvP to play again on the 2nd of January.
Those who missed out against Wolves are likely to come back into the starting line-up. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey should start but the rest is as good as anyone’s guess. Probably Ignasi Miquel will come in for one of the 3 centre backs who have played a lot of continuous games recently. Or maybe Francis Coquelin will get some minutes under his belt in place of the imperious Mikel Arteta. My best guess is this;
The reason why I suspect Thomas Vermaelen be dropped to the bench is because he has played a lot of games. Don’t forget that most of the games he played are in the left back role, one which his body nor style of play is accustomed to. The long absence he had with injury will also have to be taken into consideration and perhaps we should not push him too hard.
With the aerial threat that QPR obviously has within their ranks, it would be wise to keep Per Mertesacker in the line-up. The big German may be unfamiliar with playing competitive football during this period of the year but he has certainly not shirk his duties. This game will be more of the style of play that will suit him..
It is up front that we have shown some drop in performance lately. At times against Wolves and Aston Villa, we looked laboured going forward. Inspiration and creativity were at a premium in those 2 games. One of the instructions that could be given to the team is to ensure that Alex Song roam less and just do what he does best, breaking up play.
Compared him and Arteta, I don’t think we can argue who has the better quality in terms of creativity. By playing behind Song, we are limiting the flair of Arteta. It is not help that even when playing further forward, Song is collecting more yellow cards than Arteta. A situation which does not allow the positioning to be reversed.
As Arteta said, we have to be more ruthless at home. As long as we keep winning our own games, we do not have to worry about what’s happening around us. It is about breeding the psychology of the players that no matter the score, we have to maintain focus and our tempo of play. 3 points to end the year, please.
Up The Arsenal!!!
On separate topic, Emmanuel Frimpong looks to go on loan to Wolves. I think that will be very good for him. Frimpong has shown both promise and the tendency to go missing in some games. Playing consistently in the Premier League would certainly help him to grow as a player. Best of luck to him, if this actually goes through.