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It’s Blackpool and a trip to Bloomfield Road tomorrow as our boys attempt to get their title challenge back on track after the disappointing stalemate with Blackburn at the Emirates a week ago.
Much perspective of the task at hand will be given by Manchester United’s result at home to Fulham. Should the current league leaders win which, in all likeliness they should, they will go a massive 10 points clear at the top of the table. It will put immense pressure on us to get the three points required to keep our league title hopes alive.
Should they slip up — though I am no way inclined to believe that they will — it will offer us an opportunity to make up for last week’s stumble and shoot ourselves right back into the mix.
Regardless of their result though, the objective is the same: win. Just win. Score more goals than we concede. Get three points. I care nothing about the performance, only about the result. It’s that time of the season.
Injury news going into the game is rather mixed. Cesc Fabregas will return to the starting line-up after a substitute appearance whilst Theo Walcott and Alex Song, both only back for one game from injury, are unavailable again. Quite why the manager did not remove Song from the pitch last week when he was hobbling early in the second half I will never know, but that’s Arsene Wenger for you.
Bacary Sagna disappointingly misses out too, with a knee problem blamed for his absence.
Although unrelated to this match it is delightful that both Wojciech Szczesny and Johan Djourou are on the mend and should both return to the squad in a week’s time against Liverpool. Both players will surely boost our chances of a strong finish, as long as we can get through tomorrow’s encounter unscathed.
I have a feeling that with three points absolutely imperative and Song absent the manager may opt for an extra striker tomorrow.
Defensively we should shape up as usual: Manuel Almunia may well play his last game for Arsenal this season (forever?) behind a back four of Emmanuel Eboué, Sebastien Squillaci, Laurent Koscielny and Gäel Clichy. Fabregas and Jack Wilshere will undoubtedly get starts in the centre of the pitch, with a quartet of Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and perhaps Nicklas Bendtner making up the more attacking positions.
It would be a bold move, but with the title on the line and Blackpool one of the least defensive sides in the country, an aggressive approach may be exactly what is required.
One thing that seemed desperately lacking in last week’s stalemate with Blackburn — a game I traveled to London to see at the Emirates — was a criminal lack of urgency and dare I say it, effort. You will rarely meet an Arsenal supporter who cares less about winning trophies and more about values as a club, but it did make me wonder whether some of the players even knew that there is a league title to play for.
We need to see more from them tomorrow. Oh, and three points.
Right then, I’m off to watch United play. Speak to you soon.
PS. If I had to make a prediction it would be 2-0 to Arsenal. Let’s hope it works out.
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