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Arsene Wenger

Time to lift the troops Arsene

North London Derby today. After the purple patch of period we had over them, we have not beaten them in the last 3 games. After such a sustained period of supremacy over them, this season has been particularly difficult. Tottenham has already beaten us once this season and without the possibility of us meeting them in any cup match, they stand to do the double over us. Sheer horror of that thought.

While the papers are heaving praise on the tax evader that his Harry Redknapp (court ruling doesn’t change my judgement), talk of them being so far ahead of us is rubbish. When we went to their ground, we were the one that was controlling the match. This despite Sp*rs retaining all their big stars and us losing ours. It’s premature talk that should only ever come up once they start winning things. All they are doing now is what we have been doing the last couple of seasons.

Leading up to today’s match, I read a lot of”which player from each side will form the best North London side”? Some have more Sp*rs players in their selection but while tried to be fair and there’s probably an equal amount of players from either side in the selection. For what it’s worth, I will no doubt admit that some of Sp*rs’ players are better than ours but my allegiance would not allow me to swap any of my squad with theirs (Sol Campbel is just but one beautiful exception).

10 points is the gap between us and them with Chelsea temporarily perched in between us and Sp*rs. A 3-0 win for us tonight will take us above Chelsea and back into that 4th spot. After that, with 12 matches to go and just 7 points separating us and our rivals, who’s to say for a certainty that we might not have St. Totteringham day to celebrate this season. Any way, that’s looking at this beyond today, which we shouldn’t.

Today should just be about winning our match, winning the derby. We have gone back into a slump. By my reckoning, that’s the third one we’re having this season. The one right at the start, then the over the busy Christmas / New Year period and now. We can ill afford for this terrible run to continue. As Arsene Wenger said, we can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves now.

We’ve had a week of rest and recuperation and training. Whatever that’s the problem in the past few games, it has to be ironed out. I’m sure the coaches has been what has been our errors and will have worked strenuously over the week to correct it. More than anything, the players themselves will have to show their passion for it. So many example of how new players are being taught by the senior players how much effort is required for this game and what it means to the fans. I’m not sure if anyone is doing it for this squad but I’m hoping there is.

We have to show that we want it more. The fans will turn up in good voice and will be pushing the team on. The team has to reciprocate in kind. The more effort they put in, I’m sure the cheering and support will get bigger. Though, we would have to do it without a few of players who has become a mainstay in this season’s starting line-up. Per Mertesacker and Aaron Ramsey will both miss this match. The former is not expected to return this season but the latter should be available for future games.

The good news would have to be the availability of Kieran Gibbs. But there were murmurs on twitter yesterday that he seemed to have picked up some injury. I shall hope not because I’d loathed to play Thomas Vermaelen as a left back again. Not because he is hapless in that position but it takes away a very good central defender for us. With Laurent Kosielny back as well, I’m still convince that he and Vermaelen is our best centre back partnership.

Oxlade-Chamberlain—Van Persie—Gervinho

Will Theo Walcott get a reprieve or will Wenger continue to show his faith in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? That is probably the only uncertainty surrounding the starting line-up. Walcott has been in a shadow of his best self in the last month or so while the knock-on effect on AOC to be dropped after his own goal would be negative. As it were, I would persist with AOC because I don’t believe that he is the type of player that would be affected by any atmosphere.

There are going to be many interesting battle all over the pitch today. Bacary Sagna against Gareth Bale. If there’s anyone whom I can trust to keep Bale out of a game, it would be Sagna. There’s also Adebayor v Koscielny, Parker v Rosicky, Song v Modric and Gervinho v Walker. There’s pace and guile everywhere you look at it. Concentration is of the utmost importance and no players should slack off in that department.

A lot has been said about how weak this Arsenal side is. Whether in terms of the quality of personnel or the mental strength area. This is as good a time as any for the players and perhaps manager as well, to rise to the occasion and show that they are better than what has been said. Certain matches define how good footballers are. This is no final but I’m looking for the characteristics of Arsenal players.

Beat these lot please. You owe us at least that much.

Up The Arsenal!!!