Match day. No time to wallow over the defeat to Chelsea as West Ham comes to visit the Grove. This game, rescheduled from Boxing Day that was cancelled because of a tube strike. They are on similar form if we take into account their last 3 games and their last 3 games before that cancelled fixtures, 2 defeats and a draw. Having said that, neither are we in the best form of our season. An FA Cup win sandwiched by 2 defeats to teams above us in the league.
For us to achieve yet another Champions League qualification, we can ill afford to drop any more points, let alone at home against West Ham. That is not disrespecting the Hammers, just the way things are. Except that, I’m not sure if there is such things as a “nailed-on win” match for us anymore. Every match is a battle because we just don’t know which Arsenal side will turn up. Is it the lackadaisical one or the one that comes out all guns blazing with something to prove? Fingers crossed, it’s the latter.
It won’t be an easy game, that’s what I can guarantee, not least because we are short of numbers in midfield. Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin are all in doubts due to respective injuries. Even if somehow Diaby manages to pass the fitness test, there would be serious recrimination from many sections of the fan base if he is picked to play in his 4th game in 10 days. That would just be reckless form of management. We are desperate, but hopefully not desperate enough to risk the longer term fitness of one of the most crucial player to us.
Desperation that is brought upon by ourselves due to our own failure to add to the squad. It was mismanagement to rely on the fitness of Diaby and Tomas Rosicky when past experience indicates otherwise. It was also mismanagement to expect Arteta to play in every single game in a role that he isn’t accustomed to and expect him to stay fit. Even with all those taken into account, we still conspired to in inconspicuous in this transfer window. Being an Arsenal fan never gets any easier.
If I were to predict Arsene Wenger’s thoughts, I think Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla will be the 3 man in the middle of the park. That also means a return to the left attacking role for Lukas Podolski. Whereas I would have given Emmanuel Frimpong a chance to be the pivot of the midfield with Wilshere and Ramsey interchanging their forward runs. Which would see Podolski return, but only to the bench. The “Denchboy” might not (may never) have progressed at the same rate as Wilshere but would be a more natural choice to screen in front of our defence.
Given that this is the 4th game in 10 days and how the line-up have more or less remained the same, I would expect a few more changes elsewhere in the team. Bacary Sagna is not in the best of form and Carl Jenkinson could come in there. Brilliant at the start of the season, Per Mertesacker has not looked the same in recent games too and could make way for Laurent Koscielny. Other positions are less inclined to be disturbed because we simply do not have the option to do so, also read as do not have replacement to do the replacing.
In the reverse fixture, our quality shone through in the end but West Ham did give us some nervous moments before we went ahead in the game. Diame with his driving runs and Nolan’s cleverness in finding space are the two features that can deal damage to us. Not forgetting the rejuvenated Joe Cole pulling the strings further ahead of these 2 players. The former Chelsea/Liverpool/Lille player possess that bit of magic that can turn games around, so we’ll have to keep a close eye on him.
Wenger said these players care the same, if not more than the legends such as Tony Adams or Dennis Bergkamp. It’s time to show it. Wenger also said these players are good enough and the problem is them not believing in their own talent like he does. Then it’s time to start believing. Theo Walcott says there’s no need to look at how the others are doing and we only need to be concentrating on getting 3 points in every game. Then let’s be doing that. Walcott also said that we need to show that character and desire to win from the start, not when we concede a goal. Then please start as you mean.
Every single person at Arsenal Football Club knows exactly what is expected out of them. Walk the talk or not?
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