Friday, September 21, 2012
For the Love of God Arsenal, Win this Match
Morning Gooners. Thank God it's Friday and all that good stuff. Massive fixture ahead of us this weekend away to Manchester City. I know it's early in the season and I don't want to overstate the importance of this match, but I've always felt that all matches should be played as though they were a cup final, and this one certainly shouldn't be an exception.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty fed up with everybody looking at us as the club that's pretty good, and will probably finish top four, but aren't good enough to compete with the likes of City, United and Chelsea. We're all aware of the highly publicized trophy drought, and I think it's high time we start thinking of ourselves as Premier League contenders, and taking points at the Etihad would be a giant step towards that goal.
At least for right now, I'm not interested in hearing about how getting a draw out of this fixture would be a decent result. It may well be, but I don't feel that's the proper mindset. We're Arsenal, not Sunderland, and this is a match I believe we can win. We beat City last time we played them, and for my money we're a better side now than we were then, fully capable of taking care of this business.
Right. So there's your pre-match pep talk, and I suppose we should move on to covering some actual talking points surrounding the match, of which there are plenty.
Starting with team fitness, Wenger has revealed that Szczęsny is a good two weeks away from returning so it'll be Mannone between the sticks. I'm oddly comfortable with this, and while Vito has played well, I fear he's one bad mistake away from being gutted. It's a cut-throat business playing keeper for a big club, and I hope he's up for the challenge. I'd be more concerned if it were Fabianski, so I think we can feel fortunate that our third choice keeper has suddenly stepped up and done a very respectable job of it. That being said, Szczęsny has done well for us on a consistent basis and I think the job should be his when he's ready to return. Of course Wenger is the one who watches these players on the training ground, and if Mannone is outplaying his fellow keepers, then it's his prerogative to make that decision. After all, in Wenger we trust.
Wilshere, Sagna and Rosicky are all still at least a week or two away from returning. Frimpong is ready to play but won't. Outside of that, we're a fit club and I don't expect to see many changes to the lineup from Tuesday's Champion's League match. The only real question I have is whether or not Giroud should play. I have a feeling he won't start. My guess is we'll see Podolski, Gervinho, and either AOC or Walcott. This is the type of fixture where we'll want to play our most in-form players, and as we've read ad nauseum, Giroud hasn't quite found his mark yet.
For City, Nasri is out, which I'm almost disappointed by. He's a guy I love to hate, but his lack of fitness won't do City any favors. Kun Aguero is looking likely to make his return. He hasn't seen action since the opening weekend when he suffered a knee injury. He was fit enough to sit the bench against Real Madrid in midweek so it appears we may get a dose of the Argentinian. To be honest, I feel like City have so many goal scoring options, it's practically irrelevant which ones are on the pitch and which ones aren't. They've done fine scoring goals without Aguero, so if his return means Dzeko or Tevez or Balotelli have to sit, then so be it. There's no question that our defense will be tested by whomever gets the start, so I'm more concerned about how we play, and not how they line up.
Front to back, City's roster reads like a dream-team. When you have a zillion dollars to spend on players, that will happen. I'll admit it's intimidating, but they've shown signs of susceptibility this season, and if Arsenal bring their best game, I have no doubt we have a chance to win it. I hate to single out any one player, but Santi Cazorla is the guy who is capable of tipping the balance in our favor. His creativity is our not-so-secret weapon and we'll be relying on his skill to open up the pitch and allow our pace and precision passing to be a factor. City have been conceding goals; 9 in five matches if you include Champion's League. That's 7 more than us. If we play defense, avoid silly mistakes and capitalize on our chances, good things will happen.
There's no time like right now Gooners. It's all about confidence and execution. As the great Sean Connery once said, losers are always whining about their best; winners go home and fuck the prom queen. Keep the faith, and just win. Enjoy your weekend boys. COYG.