It is a massive couple of weeks for Arsenal.
Aston Villa away tonight, Manchester United at home on Sunday, Chelsea away a week later as well as mid-table Liverpool at home just a few days after that. It is undoubtedly the most crucial period of our season and if I’m being honest, just writing about it is making me a little anxious.
Mercifully, the team news going into the first game of this crucial period is superb.
Our first-choice back-five will slot straight back into the side while Aaron Ramsey should slot into midfield alongside captain Cesc Fabregas and Denilson. Up front Eduardo should start centrally with Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky providing support from the flank, although Arsene Wenger may use either Carlos Vela or Theo Walcott if he wants to add more pace to the attack.
The really big news is on the bench where Nicklas Bendtner (expectedly) and Samir Nasri (unexpectedly) take their place.
In a bizarre way Bendtner’s continued absence from the team has lifted his profile from a decent first-teamer to something approaching a messiah but even so, there’s no denying his return makes our squad stronger. How long he and Nasri get on the pitch will largely be determined by the result our starting team posts but in a situation where we require goals or a change in approach it is reassuring to know we have such good options on the bench.
It has perhaps gone unnoticed that Aston Villa aren’t on a particularly good run of results at the moment. Aside from their freak 6-4 victory over a very average Blackburn team in the Carling Cup Villa have one just one of their last four Premier League games, scoring one goal in the process.
In saying that our previous encounter at The Emirates was a far trickier affair than the 3-0 scoreline suggested and we will need to play very well to win at Villa Park. We know their strengths are their defence and their ability to attack at pace so it’s important our wingers do their fair share of defensive work and whoever slots into the Alex Song position concentrates hard for 90 minutes.
I believe tonight’s game is absolutely critical to our title charge. Points-wise we can afford to draw or even lose if we post good results against the other three but any sort of win against Villa would ensure confidence high going into the Manchester United game. We have a settle to score against last year’s champions after the debacle at Old Trafford but with Alex Song likely to return and Bendtner surely ready to start I sincerely believe that is a game we will win.
Anyway, Villa first. Let’s hope we give them spanking.
COME ON ARSENAL!
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