Now that's what I call a gap
I haven't written since before the Fulham game. I've been off work on leave this week so I should have had plenty of time to get on here and say something, but sadly not. I was unable to review the weekend 3-3 draw due to work, but I had over a page of notes to write from. As it turned out I was busy all day Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday I didn't see the point in opening wounds from the previous week. Suffice to say that I was deeply unimpressed by another insipid display, and even less so by the nonsense Arsene Wenger came out with after the game. The other thing that stopped me from writing about that sort of thing is that tomorrow is the North London Derby. That means this is not the time for being negative about Arsenal. We must rally behind the team and give them every encouragement we possibly can before the clowns from up the road come to visit.
For a long time now there has been a growing feeling that Wenger has had his day. More and more people seem to be coming round to this way of thinking. Regular readers will know I was a subscriber to such a thought long ago. However, what I have been reading in some places lately has deeply disturbed me. I have seen people (I assume most of these idiots never go to games) actually advocating Arsenal losing, just so long as it pushes Le Boss closer to the exit door. While I firmly believe Arsene is a busted flush nothing would give me greater pleasure than for him to prove me completely wrong. I am an Arsenal supporter. I want Arsenal to win every single game. Anyone that would say they wouldn't mind seeing the team get beaten is certainly no supporter. Such nonsense is actually quite frightening when you think about it. Let's face it, the media do enough cheer leading for any team playing against Arsenal, without so called Gooners adding to the anti-Arsenal mood. This is even more important in the week we play Tottenham.
Last season we were told for months that Spurs were finally going to do it and finish above Arsenal for the first time since Danny Blanchflower was in the side, or whatever. Indeed this was the greatest Tottenham side since the early 60s, while Arsenal fans were suffering the worst players we'd ever put together. Arsenal were finished, and Tottenham were going to dominate the North London scene for years to come. Considering those "facts" the end of the season was real shock! Or not. I should say at this point that, until last season, Tottenham had become for Gooners merely a twice a season sideshow. They were insignificant flies to be swatted as we fought it out with Manchester United and Liverpool and the newly rich Chelsea. Apart from a nostalgic sense of local rivalry the games against Spurs were far more important to the jealous Lillywhites than they were to the all conquering Gunners. The reaction of their supporters to the 2-2 draw when we won the Premier League in their stadium said it all about the difference between the Clubs - we celebrated being Champions while they celebrated a point. I digress. The point I was getting to was that we were supposed to finish behind them last season, and we all know how that turned out. We went in to the game at our place 10 points behind, and were 2-0 down with forty-plus minutes gone. Then it happened. A lot of people point to Sagna's goal as the turning point but, for me, it happened seconds before with a Theo Walcott flick which saw Van Persie hit the post (Sagna then scored from the resulting cross). Walcott had been having a bad day to that point, but that one confidence boosting touch saw him turn in a second-half masterclass. The 5-2 win turned the tide and Arsenal finished third in the table with Spurs lagging behind. Again.
I have to say that I am more worried about this season. A few weeks ago I was convinced that we would be challenging near the top of the Premier League. The players were working harder off the ball and this was creating space when we quickly won it back. The performances at Anfield and Eastlands gave us great hope. Then Abou Diaby got yet another long-term injury, and so did Kieran Gibbs. Since then we have struggled badly. We don't have a player in midfield that can carry the ball like a fit Diaby. The value of a player who can beat a couple of defenders and move the ball forward can not be underestimated. I know Diaby is not everybody's cup of tea, but that seems a view coloured by his failure to play more than two or three games at a time. Arsenal are seriously missing Diaby's quality, and that puts an added unfair pressure on Jack Wilshere to dominate midfield. Tottenham are also yet to tear up any trees, and Andre Villas-Boas has found himself under pressure in the media. I have to say I think such pressure is purely because the press boys are annoyed that their mate 'Arry was given the chop. Villas-Boas is simply guilty of being the person that replaced their rent-a-quote man. I believe the new Tottenham Manager is a very decent coach, and I fear his team far more than I ever did Redknapp's.
Arsenal's team news for tomorrow sees Wojciech Szczesny surely destined to return to the side. Vito Mannone got plenty of stick for the second Fulham goal last week, not least from Arsenal supporting John Cross in the Daily Mirror. I was very surprised therefore to see the very same man making excuses for Joe Hart in midweek. Cross was far from alone it should be said, but he has been slagging Mannone something chronic for weeks, and very unfairly so. Maybe Vito should have saved that header last Saturday, but considering he started the season as third choice I think he hasn't done too badly at all. He has certainly secured himself a move to a decent Club when his time comes to leave Arsenal. Theo Walcott will hopefully pass a fitness test today and be in the side. I would like to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lining up on the other wing as I believe pace is the key to Arsenal getting a win tomorrow. When we play with pace we are difficult to beat. When we ponce about playing square balls between the centre-backs and failing to go forward we simply invite pressure. We must get the ball wide and get crosses in to Giroud. If he proved anything last week it is that he is able to score goals when given the appropriate aerial service. If we can do that, and shackle the diving simian effectively, then we can beat Tottenham tomorrow.
Finally, I hope we can get this going in the ground tomorrow, just to remind the idiots in the away end of their typical early gloating last season. Enjoy the game, and let's hope for a win tomorrow. It's suddenly an important game again and, while that may be a sign that we are not the force we once were, we are still The Arsenal. And that makes us better than that lot. Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.