Afternoon fellow Gooners,
It’s officially match day and that means it’s time to play Bolton (again)… in about [insert the numbers of hours until after the game] hours time, we could be top of the table. Yes, top of the table, for the first time since [insert the last time we were top of the league].
It’s an amazing feat considering how far behind we were a couple of weeks ago – but of course, we must forget the fact that we may go top and concentrate on the game itself, and something Arsene agrees with.
“It is a good target. But let’s first of all focus on winning the game, that is the most important thing. We are there to win. At the moment [going top] has not too much as a mathematical meaning. But it has a psychological meaning, yes. It shows we are there and will fight at the top of the table but mathematically it has not too much significance because it is a long way to go. It also shows that everybody wrote us off but we are back in it. That is a step we have definitely made.”
We will be without a few players as normal, with Nasri and Ramsey definitely out and Merida joining them on the injury list. Denilson and Walcott return today and news coming out of the Emirates is that Denilson will start ahead of Eastmond with the young prodigy being dropped to the bench and in the mindset for the game on Sunday against Stoke instead with the FA cup being less of a priority.
The line up today based on the noises we’re hearing should be:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Denilson – Diaby
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
It looks like Clichy should be straight back into the first team too, having been on the bench against Bolton (the away leg), and with Arshavin most likely to be rested against Stoke, he shpuld play today. The line up above does look quite strong. We of course have Vela on the bench too – so depending on whether we can see Rosicky play two games in a row or depending on whether Arshavin is indeed rested, we will see who gets the nod.
With back to back games against the opposition, it’s important we’re focused and Arsene has re-iterated this point:
You would tend to think that [the hard work was done on Sunday],” he said. “But I believe in our intelligence and the rational part of my brain tells me that Bolton fought very hard and gave us a very difficult game.
“So let’s focus really to be on top on Wednesday. I feel if we are not completely 100 per cent focussed we will not win the game. It will be highly important for us to have a go and play without any handbrake. But also we must prepare to play at a high tempo and give absolutely everything for 90 minutes. To surprise them is difficult because everybody knows you cannot change too much the way we play football from one day to the next, so they will know us. But we will certainly play with a higher collective pace than we did on Sunday because we will be at home. Our fans will be behind us and being at home puts us in an even stronger position. Our fans can help us win matches. It is a little bit a special [situation] but we have a little psychological advantage from the first game so let’s take it.”
On a separate note, and I’m not sure if there is any truth in this, but apparently we’re after Fulham defender Chris Smalling. We did discuss this in the comments a few days back but it looks like the BBC, Sky Sports and a whole host of sites are reporting a move for him today:
Sky Sports News understands that Arsenal have made a move for Fulham’s promising defender Chris Smalling. The Gunners see the 20-year-old defender as an excellent prospect for the future and could pay as much as £7million to secure his services.
Maybe if we’re about to agree a deal that may see Senderos go to Celtic (which has it’s own will he / won’t he saga behind it with Mowbray saying he’s not after the player but the player saying the move is on the cards)… then maybe this young lad will be brought in as an option – cover for Gallas / Vermaelen and can also play at right back. Every time we need a forward, we seem to sign a right back (a la when Sagna came in) and it seems to be an interesting move…