I had taken some time off from football after what happened last Saturday. The negativity, however, that has followed ever since Arsenal’s exit from three competitions has been immense and highly uncalled for. No doubt the departures have been frustrating and disappointing but to completely overlook what the team has achieved this season on the basis of two weeks result is not logical. No doubt we have our liabilities and I do agree with some of the points that have been raised but the way people have gone about it is not right. And also now isn’t the time to be discussing the weaknesses of the team. When the season is over, there will be plenty to talk about. What we need to do right now is to get behind the team because the media will always find reasons to ridicule us. No doubt, everyone is entitled to their own views but we as fans would do better if we stick to supporting the team.
Coming on to today’s game, it is against West Brom at their home and after what happened the last time we faced them, this won’t be a walk in the park. The game had plenty of goals the last time and if I am not wrong, Almunia didn’t have a good day. Ironically he is making his return in the League against the same oppositions and after his brilliant display against Barcelona and Manchester United, I am gunning for another good performance.
Today I also feel there won’t be many goals. One reason is that West Brom are under Hodgson and the second because we will also approach the game a bit more cautiously. And with plenty of our regular starters missing, we will have difficulty in the opening them up, as we witnessed the last time.
We will have to be disciplined in the middle of the park and move the ball around with precision and pace and only then we will be able to open them up. Much will depend on how our regulars play. No doubt to win the whole team will have to perform but Nasri and company will have to produce some magical moments that will lead to goals.
At the back too, Squillaci and Koscielny will have to stay alert. These two have had their weaknesses exploited when playing besides each other and with Almunia also not playing regularly with them, the problems can be compounded. Communication among them will be key and the midfield will have to do their job if we are not to concede. And please Arsenal no half hearted attempts in defense and middle of the park, like we witnessed against Manchester United last Saturday. Fight for every ball and close down opposition players early so that they don’t create goal scoring opportunities.
Upfront, we will have to ensure that we don’t waste chances. I don’t want another opposing keeper getting the man of the match.
For the starting eleven, we don’t have many good options as there are a few injuries in important positions. Arsene Wenger again will have to make some bold decisions.
In goal it has been confirmed that Almunia will start. The back line picks it up itself with Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy and Sagna.
In the middle, Wilshere and Nasri are the easy picks. However, with no Song and Diaby, we have Ramsey and Denilson to choose from for the third spot. To be honest, the more I wish for not seeing Denilson in the starting lineup, the more likely it is that he will start. As it will be today because Ramsey I fear isn’t yet ready to start a game.
Upfront too Van Persie and Arshavin are easy picks. On the right we have the options to start with Rosicky, Bendtner and Eboue. Eboue doesn’t add much while Bendtner also doesn’t impress when he starts on wings. And although Rosicky has also been poor, I will start with him on the right because he will help us keep the ball better (if he plays well).
Probable starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Nasri, Denilson, Rosicky, RVP, Arshavin
If everything goes according to plan we will be level on points with Manu by five o clock and hopefully top of the table (if Manu lose their game). We have only the league to focus on and after a weeks break I want to see a good display from our team. Please Arsenal give your best, show that you want the title by winning today and rest of the remaining games. We all are behind you or else it will be hard not only for you but also for us to keep believing in you.
Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the game where ever you are. Tonight we start the final lap of the season which hopefully will end with the League title in May (after which we can start sorting out the weaknesses of the team).