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Back in familiar territory

The last 10 games of the season for Arsenal and it starts with a trip to Goodison is the first one on the cards. Recent visits to Everton has been very positive having won 3 of our last 4 meetings there, with the draw coming in the 08/09 season. The one where Abou Diaby drifted a ball in the final minutes to which Robin Van Persie controlled with the chest and volleyed in.

It’s will not be sufficient to settle for just a point. We have to continue to put pressure on Sp*rs and hope that they continue their slump in form. Not only do we have to look up, we have to look down as well. Chelsea have won 4 in their last 4 games and looking ominously back in form. The fact that Fernando Torres finally broke his goal scoring drought could also spur them on. The gap stands at 3 points and it must be maintained.

Everton are in 10th position in the league with no chance of qualifying for Europe via league position. I say no chance but they are mathematically still in with a chance, but I’m sticking with my first opinion on the matter.  David Moyes’ best chance to play in the Europa League next season is through the cup competition and that is where their focus is at the moment. When a manager rest his players for a Merseyside derby, it’s clear where the attention lies.

Considering that it was only a draw in the FA Cup against Sunderland, that tactic of resting players in midweek cannot be construed as a total success for Moyes. Quite how he will play this out for remains to be seen. His team faces Swansea next and it’s up to him to judge which of these two matches that he sees as the most viable to pick up points. And that is probably how he will pick his players for the respective games.

Moyes will have to make do without the services of Darron Gibson, Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman thought the latter duo could still feature if they pass their fitness test. As this is a league match, Steven Pienaar comes back into the fold and his resurgence in a blue shirt cannot be discounted by any means. Everton has got the players who can hurt us. Not quite Andreas Iniesta but Leon Osman can be quite handy himself.

It’s going to be a tough game. Sp*rs went there and lost. So did Chelsea. We’ve got to ensure their slaying of teams vying for the Champions League spots ends. There’s also the human side of the game as Mikel Arteta returns for his first Goodison Park appearance in another team’s colours. In a preemptive move earlier, Arteta has stated that he hoped he will get a good reception. Something which Samir Nasri could never wish he could say.

In terms of team news, there’s no real surprise there. Abou Diaby completed 60 minutes for the Reserves side last night and until now, there’s no news about him picking up any setback, so all good on that front. Andre Santos is in the side but Francis Coquelin needs a few more weeks. Arguably the biggest news to come out from that cycle is Jack Wilshere. That he does not have anything else to worry about and it’s all about building his fitness and energy levels now. Still, any games that he gets to play this season will feel like a bonus to me.

I think we will retain the same starting eleven as the one that played Newcastle. If any changes are to be made, it would be one of the wide attacking berths. With Theo Walcott in such rich vein of form, it would be Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain who might take a seat on the bench. At the moment, it’s no use to pinpoint any particular player who could be crucial. Everyone seemed to be picking up form just at the right time. Anyhow, here’s what I’m expecting to see;

Szczesny
Sagna—Koscielny—Vermaelen—Gibbs
Arteta—Song—Rosicky
Walcott—Van Persie—Chamberlain

High pressing and ascending momentum are our virtues of the week. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a higher work rate from the team and the pressing has allowed us to win the ball back quicker and control the tempo of the game. But it only takes one person to make the pressing fail. It’s a team effort and everyone has to put in their shift to ensure our pressing work and no free outlet is available to the opposition.

It’s not only the fans who recognise the performance of the team in recent weeks. The effort is also witnessed by the players themselves. That they are able to rise to the occasions when called upon. Robin Van Persie wants us to show that over the course of an entire season instead of just for a month. Our captain is not wrong but there are other elements which needs to be considered as well. The fact that at the moment, we’ve got a rather healthy squad. We’ve also got what is our first choice defence available. All that, as well as the effort/desire contributes to our surge in form.

Tonight is another opportunity for us to show that rejuvenated Arsenal side. A draw is not a disaster but only 3 points would be an acceptable result tonight. Kieran Gibbs talked about the home atmosphere but there’s no lack of support from travelling Gooners on away trips as well. Here’s to both of them helping each other out tonight.

Up The Arsenal!!!

On a side note, this is the first I’ve written since the Fabrice Muamba incident. It’s sad to see this happen to such a nice young individual. Plenty has been said which does not need repeating here. One thing about Kevin Davies though. He’s nasty on the pitch and I’ve never liked him but I’ve got the utmost respect for him now. Hope he gets a nice applause next time he plays against us. He’s done his captain’s job very well and spoke eloquently about it here. Best of luck to Davies and let’s hope Muamba goes from strength to strength and recover from this.

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