Stoke vs Arsenal
Probably the worst title for a blog ever… or maybe the best title for a blog ever… either way, it’s probably the biggest game of our season today. A win will really push us forward in the race for 3rd place – a loss, and it won’t be up to us. A loss, and we could finish as low as 6th.
I’ll start today’s blog with an Arsene quote:
“Yes I believe we deserve to be third, considering what we have gone through. We haven’t stolen the points from anybody. We have 65 overall right now and if we manage to play well in our last three games I think we’ll get there and deserve to be there.”
My opinion is that we will only deserve to be there if we finish there. In reality, it doesn’t matter what we have gone through – the record books only show the final position. Stoke has not been a great ground for us – we’ve lost a few games there and Aaron Ramsey lost a year of his career up there too. So today, it’s all about ensuring that we’re ready, mentally and physically – both attributes have been waning in the last few weeks, and that’s down to a small starting XI, lack of rotation and an overuse of key members. We’ve lost Arteta and Walcott for the rest of the season, and surely that was down to the over-use of both players.
Injury news, see Walcott (hamstring), Arteta (ankle), Mertesacker (ankle), Wilshere (ankle) Frimpong (knee) all out… which means, it’s a toss up between Diaby, Ramsey, Song & Rosicky for the centre of midfield, and personally, I think we’ll see this line up:
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Diaby – Song
Oxlade – Rosicky – Gervinho
With a bench of Fabianski, Santos, Djourou, Ramsey, Benayoun, Chamakh and Park…
Vice captain, Thomas Vermaelen was in the news yesterday and he was focusing on the defensive part of the game and the key consideration required for corners and set pieces:
“It is always a hard game when we go there, you know it is going to be a battle. If there is a battle, sometimes you have to fight back. But the main thing is to play our own game, with quick passing. That is the way to score. Of course we must fight for every ball but the main thing is to keep to our own game and score a lot of goals. We always want to defend well as a team, we have to do that on Saturday,” he said. “It won’t be easy, and we have to be focused on set pieces.”
And it will be up to the front three to provide the spark, penetration and goals – Gervinho owes us a game – he’s been pretty ineffective since since the African Cup of Nations, and he needs to get going again – I think we’ll see both Gervinho and Oxlade play the last three games – and in a way, that would make a lot of sense as they are fresh – and considering the likes of Song & Van Persie are running on empty – a fresh mind and body – or two – could really help up front right now.
It’s a 3pm kick off, Game 36 of 38.
All that is left to say is… Come on you Gunners!!!!