Tomorrow is the biggest game of the season… I know I keep on saying that, but the old games are gone and this next game is so important. In terms of the table, it’s 2nd (Man City) versus 3rd (us!), and a win will see us go ahead of them on points and a game in hand. It’s very important for a few reasons:
- Keep up the heat against United
- Get into 2nd place
- Send out a message to Man City
Theo Walcott, like the rest of the team, is really up for the game against City and I’m pretty sure they understand it’s importance…
“Our target is to beat them especially with home support behind us. We played well against Chelsea. Now we have a couple of days to relax. We don’t want to think about it on our days off. We have had a busy few days. Everyone is looking forward to the game when it comes but at the same time everyone is looking forward to a little relax.”
There will be a lot of questions around the team selection, with Van Persie playing against Birmingham last Saturday, will he be able to start against Man City? With Chamakh being completely rested, will he now be drafted back into the squad. It must be a difficult decision for Arsene at the moment. I think he believes Chamakh is the third best striker in terms of ability, behind Van Persie and Bendtner – but in terms of contribution to the team, and goals and effort this season, Chamakh tops it all off, especially with 10 goals this season.
I am pretty sure Maroune wasn’t brought in as first choice striker, but he elevated himself to that position due to injuries and form to others. Now, with Van Persie back in the frame, and fit, he will most likely become number 2. But with only 1 striker in the team, where does that leave Bendtner? Rumours are that Bayern Munich are very interested and have even contacted us about the possible transfer. I really doubt that we would sell Niklas Bendtner – he does represent a lot of what project youth is about, but if the price were right – £15m – 20m, would we sell? Would Bayern offer us that much. I think Arsene has always like Nikki B – he has shown in flashes how good he can be – flashes of brilliance, but never consistent; plagued by injury, yes, but from what Arsene says, Nikki B could be the best striker in the world… But he won’t start tomorrow…
My predicted line up is:
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
Personally, I think both Walcott and Chamakh will start on the bench. With Leeds and Ipswich following the Man City game – I think Arsene will risk playing both Djourou and Van Persie, knowing that both Chamakh and Bendtner will and can come in in the two “less important” games afterwards. Walcott I believe will need a rest, and Arshavin won’t stand for being on the bench for too much longer. Against Leeds, it will be important to have players like Bendtner, Chamakh and a game winner such as Walcott.
Back to tomorrow’s game… and some match facts from ESPN:
- Since 1975, the Gunners have not lost the fixture at home, winning 18 of 25 matches.
- However City is not the same side it was before it was purchased by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.
- It’s won three of six meetings since the sale, after losing five of its previous six beforehand.
- Arsenal is the highest scoring team in the Premier League with 42 goals.
- Since going goalless against Manchester United on Dec. 13, the Gunners have found the back of the net eight times in three matches.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Manchester City has been the stingiest team this season with only 16 goals allowed.
- No EPL opponent has scored more than one goal against City since October.
- Though it may be difficult to predict if this will be a high-scoring match, we can look to past meetings between the two sides: Of their 11 matches since 2006, eight of them have been decided by a margin of 2 goals or more.
Exciting facts, which basically mean it will be 2-0 or 3-1 to us – if all goes well.
Arsene has an excitement about the current side, especially after the last two wins.
“You can see we have the belief in our game now. That is what will make the title race really interesting. It takes a kind of bravery to get the ball down and play. That is always the most important thing and why I was most pleased on Saturday. After the Chelsea game the team was on a high because we got that burden out of the way. We were quickly down again because we dropped two points against Wigan – but I am pleased we were quickly back up again. This team could see the positive effect of the Chelsea win. It was there for all to see on Saturday.”
I hope the team have the belief as if we can beat Man City, we can quickly turn this league into a two-team race rather than a 5 team race… Tomorrow morning, I am sure we will have more team news and more indication of what Arsene has in mind…
Til then, my friends…