Tottenham's Cup Final
Tomorrow brings the biggest home game of the season so far. Anything breakable in the away section will have been removed because the neanderthals from up the road are visiting for their number one match of the year.
Rumours that Darren Anderton is fit to play for Tottenham are apparently untrue, but Jermaine Defoe appears to be the new man filling that role. It comes as no surprise that Defoe has been given the miracle cure, as Tottenham know the importance to their fans of putting up a good show against Arsenal. Having been humiliated at the Lane earlier in the season, he who twitches dare not get hammered again tomorrow. The two line-ups will be very different from those that played in the Carling Cup, but a similar scoreline would certainly not go amiss. Spurs, of course, have the World's best player on the left wing. Is there any way that Arsenal can resist the quality of Gareth Bale (the same Gareth Bale that Redknapp tried to flog to Nottingham Forest at the end of January)? In all seriousness, Sagna will have to perform well tomorrow against Bale, and I would play Walcott down the right hand side in order to put the Welshman in two minds about bombing-on. Spurs have Bale, Modric and Van der Vaart in their midfield. Not one of these is inclined to do much defending. They possess the quality to hurt Arsenal, there is no doubt about it. However, as Bolton showed the other week, the presence of such players leaves Tottenham vulnerable at the back. With Arsenal's attacking options (more of which below) I think we can really do them damage as we attack.
Spurs will have William Gallas playing for them tomorrow. He's not exactly been in scintillating form since he went there, but we know very well that Gallas has a knack of making important contributions in big matches. Arsene Wenger has insisted that the Arsenal fans will be respectful of our ex-captain, but I think he is being a little naive. Make no mistake, Gallas will be abused tomorrow by the Arsenal supporters, and it will be well deserved. I always felt that he got a harsh ride from a lot of the fans when he played for us, but having gone to join that lot he will have brought the fans' reaction upon himself (though it should be remembered that he is no Sol Campbell in terms of his defection from one to the other).
Arsene says that Robin Van Persie is pushing for a start tomorrow after his 45 minutes for Holland in midweek. Apart from the added motivation of playing against Gallas, who he seemed to dislike intensely (remember the reports of punch-ups after the 4-4 draw a couple of years ago?) I can see no benefit to starting the Dutchman in this game. We need the physical presence of Chamakh against their centre-backs, and the pace of Walcott and Nasri from wide. I see no place for RVP in the line-up right now, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Wenger leave Chamakh on the bench in favour of Van Persie. I've mentioned Spurs' attacking prowess, so I would like to see Song doing exactly what he did in the final quarter of the match at Everton last week - stay in front of the back-four and don't move. Jack Wilshere has been passed fit to play (and charged with assault this afternoon) but I wouldn't be shocked if Denilson started instead - the Brazillian did well when he came off the bench last week. I'd rather see Wilshere as I think playing Denilson would send a bit of a negative message, indicating that we fear Tottenham a little, for the first time in years.
Laurent Koscielny is back from his suspension, but it would be particularly harsh if Johan Djourou was to miss out. With Pavlyuchenko or Crouch likely to start we will need the physical presence of the big Swiss far more than the silky football of Koscielny. I expect Clichy to continue at full-back after Kieran Gibbs played most of the game for England on Wednesday night.
My team would be as below, though I suspect Arsene's will be really quite different tomorrow:
Fabianski - Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy - Song, Wilshere, Fabregas - Nasri, Chamakh, Walcott.
A win tomorrow would put us top of the league, albeit briefly. We would, hopefully, gain the confidence to push on and make a real challenge to Chelsea and Man Utd. It would also take us quite a way clear of Tottenham. If we could win, and win well, it might just spell the end of Spurs' season, and the beginning of the end for Twitchy. Make no mistake about it, another hammering at Arsenal tomorrow and the mugs will turn on him. If Arsenal get a couple of goals ahead then I expect the twitching to reach quite a dangerous level on the Spurs bench - anyone sitting nearby should probably wear a hard-hat just in case. Last season I pulled a muscle in my neck doing my Redknapp Twitch when RVP made it 3-0 - I'd love the opportunity to pull another muscle tomorrow.
I'll review the match when I get home from the game at some point tomorrow evening. Fingers are already crossed for three points, and I don't care how they come about - an own goal in injury time from Gallas would do me just fine.