Morning folks… and we’re just hours away from a very very big game – a derby at home – a West Ham team at the bottom of the table, in desperate need of a win… but of course, we’re in need of the 3 points to start closing the gap at the top of the table. This will be a feisty affair… Off the back of the Man City and the Newcastle game, we are on a bit of a high, similar to before we played West Brom at home. We didn’t do too well that afternoon, and it’s essential that we keep our concentration levels and apply ourselves correctly in all areas.
Team news ahead of the game sees the same injuries as there have been for a while, with Diaby and Almunia still out with their ankle and elbow injuries respectively. Jack Wilshere is serving his final game in his three match suspension and will also miss the game – whilst Vermaelen is still out and may be for a while, whilst Ramsey and Van Persie aren’t quite ready yet… so it’s basically, choose from the following players… my guess at a first XI (which is a harder guess now that we have players back from injury) is:
Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Song – Denilson
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Koscielny, Eboue, Rosicky, Walcott, Vela, Bendtner
The only change perhaps is that perhaps Walcott may start, Nasri moved in and Denilson on the bench. We’ve got one of the strongest teams available, and just imagine if our whole team was fit – yes, I know it would never happen, but who would start and who would be on the bench? Walcott looked very good against Newcastle and really looks determined this year to do well and improve his game. It’s amazing to see Nasri top the scoring charts with 7 and Walcott weigh in with 6 already this season, and we’re still (just) in October!
Interesting to see Arsene focus on the performance and insist that the team is focused – and also mentioned the bad performance against West Brom.
“It was a lesson learned and it confirms to me that if you are not 100 per cent focused, you will drop points against any team in this league,” he said. “In fairness to my team, West Brom is the only game since the start of the season where we didn’t perform well and that is credit to them. But as well, it shows that, just once, if you are not completely there you are caught. I think we have got the lesson now. We focus highly on tomorrow and go step-by-step to try to put every energy in every single game. The success of our season is as well how intelligent we are and tomorrow is a good opportunity to show it. Let’s go for it 100 per cent.”
We’ve got to treat every game as if it’s the most important game of the season and against Newcastle, there was a sense of determination that would good to see. The players closed down the opposition and were quick to react to openings and moving forward, trying to get onto the scoresheet. If we apply that level of tenacity to the game today, we will come out winners. It’s strange to see West Ham at the bottom of the pile, because they do have quality players all round the pitch – the likes of Rob Green, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Carlton Cole are all quality players – with the experience of Avram Grant at the helm, you’d think they’d recover – but let’s hope it’s it’s not today!
Arsene spoke about West Ham and Avram Grant:
“I see them getting out of the drop zone because they have quality players. If you lose one or two games you will quickly be down there. The difference in the league now is not too big. I think they can get out of there. The basic target of any manager is to have success with the resources he has at the club and, on that, Avram Grant has done well.”
But despite the positivity, it will still be a very nervy and edgy game… be prepared for a few heart in mouth incidents and a gulp here or there – 6-0, 4-1 or even 1-0, a win is a win and we need those three points… so let’s get behind the team, come on you Gunners!