On paper, Blackpool at home is the easiest fixture that Arsenal will play this season.
But after the Tangerines’ surprising 4-0 win away to Wigan on the opening day they will be feeling a sense of “euphoria”, as Arsene Wenger has put it, and may play with a dangerous lack of doubt at The Emirates.
In saying that, there should be no excuses here for Arsenal: they should win their first game of the season today.
I believe the team will be fairly predictable.
Under-pressure Manuel Almunia will start in goals behind a back-four of Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen and Gael Clichy.
Alex Song will return to improve a likely midfield trio completed by Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere while Marouane Chamakh will again lead the line with support from Andrey Arshavin and either Emmanuel Eboue or Theo Walcott.
Personally I am excited by the return of Djourou, a player I see as the second-best central defender in our team and the long-term partner for Vermaelen, and hope he can put in a calm and assured performance in his first start in 15 months.
Samir Nasri’s knee injury should give Wilshere a chance to improve on a difficult league debut at Anfield while Song’s return to the team will provide security and allow Diaby to push forward into the areas where he is most effective.
One player I am expecting more from in this game is Arshavin.
The Russian was absolutely non-existent against Liverpool but is the sort of player that can kill smaller teams and make games like this a lot more comfortable than they often are.
I’ll be watching this one with a host of Gunners at The Oscar Wilde in Berlin and hoping for a first win of the season.
Wherever you are in the world, enjoy the game, and COME ON ARSENAL!
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