It’s Friday afternoon and that means a couple of cheeky beers and a very enthusiastic Arsenal match preview from yours truly.
After a fairly nothing week – although Mikael Silvestre and his band of nephews might have something to say about that – the real football is back and it comes in the shape of a potentially tricky game away to Fulham. The Cottagers may have won just two of their first five games and scored a meagre four goals compared to our 17 so far, but recent history suggests they will provide reasonably stern opposition for the Arsenal boys. Indeed, we failed to score or beat them at all last season and even suffered a 1-0 reverse in the corresponding fixture at Fulham in a performance that induced strong criticism from a lot of supporters.
Personally I don’t feel we will have such problems tomorrow. The manager has confirmed that both Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott will be available for the game and although it seems the Englishman is still a little unlikely to feature, the return of the Russian is brilliant news. If Arshavin is fully fit then I expect him to start alongside Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner in a superbly-balanced front three. If not then Eduardo should play on the left with the Russian be utilised later in the game as an impact substitute.
In midfield the continued absence of Denilson means it should be a middle trio of Alex Song, Abou Diaby and Cesc Fabregas, although I wouldn’t be against the idea of our captain being given a bit of a rest and being replaced by Tomas Rosicky. The back four should be the usual suspects while the manager has a big decision to make in goals regarding whether to stick with Wojciech Szczezny – who impressed in Carling Cup midweek – or restore Vito Mannone. Personally I feel that Mannone deserves another chance to play after his clean sheet against Wigan however these comments from Wenger suggest he still has a decision to make.
Despite last year’s debacle at Craven Cottage I fully expect us to win tomorrow. After two unlucky losses in Manchester we’ve responded well and aside from the continued absence of Manuel Almunia we look strong all over the park. Arshavin’s return will be a big boost and his creativity could be the x-factor in a game that may well turn out to be tight, while in van Persie, Bendtner, Fabregas and Diaby we have a host of players who all know how to score and will be pushing forward as often as possible. Personally I think we will win handsomely I could think of worse things to do than follow Goonerholic’s suggestion and put a couple of pounds/dollars/euros/ringgits on a 3-0 win.
Moving away from the Fulham game now and onto a couple of other (relatively) important matters.
Firstly, our manager. He’s been talking about his childhood and how he felt that growing up around his parents pub was a huge benefit to his skills as a football manager. No, seriously. Read it here. To quickly summarise he says that learning from grown–ups about football and various other grown-up things helped him understand the psychology behind what motivates people and why they do the things they do. Fair enough, I’m sure, but why do I get a creepy image of Wenger as a 5-year-old manipulating drunk old into fighting each other in bars and encouraging them to cheat on their wives? Ugh.
Secondly (and finally), the AFL Grand Final is on tomorrow. Although I am a Brisbane boy and now follow the Lions after years of supporting them live, the fact that I grew up a childhood Geelong supporter means I will be madly barracking for them to beat St Kilda tomorrow. It should be an absolutely cracking game between the two best Australian Rules Football teams in the country and if there are any Aussie Gooners out there watching it, be sure to enjoy yourselves.
Anyway that’s it. Here’s to a Geelong win tomorrow and three points against Fulham.
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