It’s been quite a different week in the wonderful world of Arsenal than the last couple of weeks. On Sky Sports, I’m was getting used to the continual chat about how Arsenal are too small and too lightweight and couldn’t compete at the top of the table, and in a way it’s been deserved after our performances against Sunderland and Chelsea. But after the result against Liverpool on the weekend, it was amazing to see the media laud the plaudits on the Arsenal and criticise everyone else.
To be honest, it was a perfect weekend for us, with Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool and Sp*rs all losing, and now we face the test of the mighty Burnley. Now, believe me when I tell you how vital this next game is and believe me when I tell you how hard this game will be for us. Burnley’s home form has been incredible and they’ve knocked the stuffing* out of some very good teams including Man United and that’s some feat for a newly promoted side. I’m kind of hoping that they’ve run out of steam, but we simply can’t underestimate them!
* Christmas puns at the ready!
The Burnley boss has talked about his decent relationship with Arsene and had this to say:
“Arsene’s a top-class manager and he’s someone us young managers aspire to follow in terms of teams playing football of that nature. He’s had to build new teams because he’s lost some top, top stars and he’s continued to find young players and bring them through. I can only speak about our relationship and I’m full of admiration for him – he’s always been very gracious to me and always had a word for me,” he added. If you watch our team, we look to play football. We don’t have overly-physical players in our team. We like to think we are competitive but there has always been good football in games between ourselves and Arsenal and I don’t see any reason why that should be any different tomorrow night.”
Well, it’s true, they do play well, and try to play football, but I do think they will be a little physical and that’s probably the main reason that Coyle has mentioned it… so expect a physical battle… Looking ahead to tonight’s game, and looking at the possible team news, Denilson is out of the game with a recurrence of his back injury and I hope he’s not out for long. He does add some span to the midfield – he is energetic and well defensively minded which helps the other members of the team. Traore is also out injured, but news is that he won’t be out for too long, whilst Eboue returns to the squad in his place.
Looking at who is available to play, the team line up could well be:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Silvestre
Song – Diaby
Walcott – Cesc – Arshavin
With the recent injury to Rosicky and the fact that Nasri has played so many games recently, I’d expect him to be rested, with Eduardo coming back into the team. Walcott only had 60 minutes or so on the weekend, so he may be in line for his second start in quick succession. It’s a much tougher one to predict as Aaron Ramsey has been playing so well recently and their are still question marks over whether Walcott will start his second game in a row. With Vela also available, it may not be exactly as thought.
At the moment, reviewing the comments on the site, and general consensus is that Almunia is punching below his weight. Many people would like to see Fabianski replace him, and I have to say I do think Almunia’s decision making hasn’t been great this season. Looking back at some of the goals conceded this season, of course, many are his fault. I’d expect Arsene to stick by him for a few more games, as the confidence of a goalkeeper is a fragile one, but the question is whether or not Fabianksi is any better or more of the same? He is much younger, so more likely to improve…
Looking at the squad, the lack of strikers / defensive cover, I don’t think Arsene will go out and buy anyone, but he did say this:
“Robin Van Persie is a very, very long-term injury and we are open-minded on the transfer market. But I don’t want to promise things that I don’t really know I will do at the moment. Mainly I am expecting our players to come back [from injury].”
But of course, with RvP and Bendtner out injured for a while, his hand could be forced… we’ll see in the next few weeks.
Back to tonight’s game… your thoughts welcome….