We had a brief conversation mid-week about whether it was good or bad to face a manager-less team. I don’t like it. Even when playing what is surely relegation fodder.
Our recent loss appears not to have damaged the confidence both on and off the pitch which considering the state of the club in January is a remarkable turn around. We fans and thankfully the media seem to be less knee-jerk in our reactions and open to a more rational approach, however, and this should be written in bold, lose today and the knives will re-appear quicker than our troll changes monicker.
What of Crystal Palace.? Well, the wouldn’t pay for Big Nick but very handily took Chamakh off our hands. This tells all we needed to know about Holloway’s strategy to taking CP into the Premiership – Scattergun signings and a huge dollop of hope. It could have worked out, Chamakh could have struck the form we saw in his first games at the Em’s. Sadly, the reality is that all the hope has gone west and Palace are struggling, having beaten just bottom placed Sunderland and languishing firmly in the bottom 3. The 1-4 defeat to a poor Fulham side on Monday signalled the end for the likeable Holloway and whoever takes up the reins inherits a poisoned chalice.
I liked Chamakh and understood why Mr Wenger signed him but the man had the same problem as Gervinho – an inability to cope with the pressures of playing in front of 60+k expectant fans. Let us wish him well and trust that he gets his career back on track, starting tomorrow.
Can they win today and beat the team sitting comfortably at the top of the table ?
Let’s look at the stats: Arsenal haven’t lost at Selhurst Park since 1979! We have won 12 of our last 13 away fixtures. We have only lost twice to Palace - ever. But as we all know, there is many a slip twixt cup and lip, over-confidence would be costly.
Arsenal: One of the question marks from Tuesday night was what happened to Özil? It was good to read that he was ill before the game and this reflected upon his play. Should he play today or be rested ahead of our testing games ahead? Given Wilshere’s troublesome ankle and the return of Flamini, I expect to see Mesut start particularly as the partnership with Santi needs pick-time. This axis alongside Ramsey will be the future of Arsenal and propel us to glory – it just needs time.
We miss Theo. Young Didit proclaimed that Walcott getting injured would be disastrous for Arsenal, it hasn’t been as painful as he thought but we miss the speedster. I am a big admirer of Walcott and think we will hit even loftier heights of play when he returns. His speed of foot and Özil’s speed of thought are made for each other. But he remains on the injury list.
In a way the injuries make Mr Wenger’s choices easier, the main question mark is whether Rosicky or Cazorla starts on the left? And whether Sagna needs a break. Given the CC game midweek I would continue with the first choice 11.
The bench gets stronger and I expect all will get a run out on Tuesday.
If Arsenal are going to be serious contenders for the title then this is a must win game. I like Palace, without their scouting network one of my footballing heroes would never have had the opportunity to excel, I speak of course of Ian Wright Wright Wright who whenever I think of his time at HIghbury lights my day. On the flip side let us not forget Palace also sold us Eddie Mcgoldrick ….. need I say more?
Early kick-off and I expect us to be 5 points ahead of the pack at the final whistle, but am not taking anything for granted.
written by Big Raddy