Today is of course derby day with the visit of Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium. And while I might be half the world away from North London I have to admit this is the most excited I have been about an Arsenal v Tottenham game since I started writing this blog.
Part of the reason I’m so excited is because I think it could be a really good quality game, part of it because I’ll be watching it in a packed Pig ‘n’ Whistle pub with the rest of the Brisbane Arsenal supporters (get involved if you’re a local – 10.45pm Brisbane time) and another part because I really think we’re going to win. I don’t really believe in jinxes or any of that sort of rubbish so I’ll just come out and say that if the boys can play well today, there’s a great chance we will walk away with a two or three-goal win.
It’s been a while since we won a really big game and I have to say, given Spurs’ current position on the table and the nature of the rivalry between the two teams, this is a big game. The boys will need to put in a committed, confident and intelligent performance to win today and I really think we can do it.
Spurs captain and owner of world football’s blockiest head Robbie Keane came out in the week saying that he thought Tottenham had a better squad than Arsenal. Looking at the teams today though, it’s fair to say that his opinion is a load of bollocks and our squad is really quite good. Premier League winning material, even, unlike our opponents for today.
The goalkeeper issue aside (more on that in a second) and even taking injuries into account, the side we’re likely to put out today looks exceptionally strong. The first-choice back four that has played consistently well will form a solid base, a diverse midfield trio of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby will provide strength, skill and creativity while the front three of Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie and (most likely) Emmanuel Eboue will create chances.
We have great balance, great options on the bench in Nicklas Bendtner (who says he will be the top scorer in the Premier League within five years – bless him!), Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri and Eduardo and several players that have the class to make the difference in what could be a very interesting derby game. I see Arshavin, Fabregas and van Persie as the game breakers in this team, the players who can create something out of nothing, while Song and Thomas Vermaelen – who plays his first game against Tottenham – are the two most important players when it comes to relishing the physical battle. I expect both to excel.
As I mentioned earlier the big concern at the moment remains the goalkeeper position. Lukasz Fabianski’s thigh injury sees him sidelined for three weeks and leaves the manager with a straight choice between Vito Mannone and Manuel Almunia. I probably don’t need to say again that I do hope he goes for Almunia, I think we need experience in a big game like this and Mannone’s shakiness against West Ham means he’s probably one error in a North London Derby short of a severe crisis in confidence. In saying that, if Wenger did go for Mannone I wouldn’t be overly worried. I just think the time is right for Almunia to get another shot and should the manager hand the chance to him I expect him to take it with both gloves.
We failed to beat Spurs in both games last season, drawing 0-0 at White Hart Lane and of course 4-4 in that fateful game at The Emirates. A strong result in this game will not only help exorcise the demons of last year’s game, but also give us three very impressive points and some serious momentum going forward. It’s not every week that you beat Liverpool and Spurs and if the lads can manage it I’m sure it will provide a significant psychological boost in the weeks ahead.
Before I go today I just want to make a shout out to “Andy Arse” and his 20 mates who are celebrating his stag night tonight in Belfast. The lads have promised to get me some photos so hopefully we’ll see some happy, drunken Arsenal fans celebrating not only Andy’s stag but a big win over Spurs. Enjoy yourself boys!
Right, that’s it. I’m off to have a couple of beers, place a couple of bets and head out to the pub to watch the game.
COME ON ARSENAL!!!!!!!!!!!!
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