A weekend without Arsenal playing is rarely worth being alive for I find, but when that weekend also consists of a late winner for some racism endorsing, Dalglish worshipping, red shirt wearing scousers it just makes it worse. Especially when the winner is nodded home by a man who consistently looks like he has just climbed out a vat of oil; has no one thought to mention to him that his hair is ridiculous? As someone on twitter pointed out, if you invite two scouse sides to London to play in a semi final, you can’t expect them to leave the stadium as they found it (https://twitter.com/#!/paulgbates/status/191167441664098306/photo/1). The weekend will get worse of course when one of our London based rivals joins them in the final, but as long as it’s not the mob from down the road I won’t mind too much.
The Arsenal train is picking up some undeniable momentum at the moment, and even though there was a signal failure in Shepherds Bush we haven’t let it derail our spirit. I think that this new found spirit is the key with which we are unlocking so many teams. The squad is the same as it was in January when we didn’t pick up a league point, yet players have returned from injury and from pointless international competitions and helped to instil a belief in the squad. Perhaps they reminded certain players that we are Arsenal Football Club, we have a rich tradition of success through harmony on and off the pitch, and that languishing in 7th simply isn’t good enough. When I see players like Rosicky and Benayoun busting their gut to make a tackle in the 90th minute it reminds of players like Arshavin, Nasri and Adebayor who couldn’t be described as anything but indolent. When Sagna said after the Tottenham game that “in our own stadium, against the enemy, we could not lose”, it must surely go down as one of the greatest ever sentences by an Arsenal player, and it is the embodiment of this new found spirit.
The players will be looking to take this spirit into the game on Monday night, and it’s a fixture in which we have enjoyed much success in recent seasons. Under Martinez, much like Swansea, Wigan have a brand of football quite similar to our own; it’s continental, and it relies on swift passing to move the opposition and create space for forward players to move in to. This ought to play into our hands as we are the best at this in the league. I don’t care if you’re born and bred in Swansea, or are Adrian Durham, we are the best in the league at passing football. When teams try to play us at our own game, we usually come out on top. Therefore I don’t think its being overly confident to expect a win tomorrow evening to bring us up to juggernaut style thrust for the visit of Chelsea in a few days later.
Wenger mentioned in his press conference that Gervinho and Gibbs should be in the squad which will give us some good options off the bench. I’m glad that Santos is getting a run in the team again, I find him an exciting player and not nearly as much of a liability as everyone else seems to say he is. Having said that I did think he was poor in the last game, so he’ll need to step up his performance tomorrow night. Also, if you didn’t happen to read what he said about Balotelli’s actions last week on ESPN then have a look (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/arsenals-andre-santos-someone-had-193500867–sow.html). Even if you don’t like him as a player, you can’t knock that kind of commitment to the team and to his team mates.
I would select a team as follows:
Szcz, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Santos, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Benayoun, Walcott, Van Persie.
I assume that Rosicky was left out of the line up last week because he was fatigued, as he can’t have been dropped based on his performances alone. After having 90 minutes off I’m hoping he’ll return fresh and feisty as ever. Yossi has forced his way into the team through graft, endeavour and a work rate which puts most others to shame, so I think we’ll see him start again, especially as Wenger will be forced to rest him for the Chelsea game a few days later.
Hope your weekend was a good one, check back here for post match articles and the like.
(halls_dja on twitter).