It’s bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth in the league tonight in another important game. With Chelsea winning last night to end their little blip it’s vital that we bring three points back from Fratton Park to keep up our chase at the top.
Cesc Fabregas will of course be absent after tweaking his hamstring against Aston Villa, although there’s still no word from the club as to just how long he will be out. Some football news sites and blogs seemed to have jumped on the bandwagon that he will be out for three weeks but I assure you there’s been no official news from Arsene Wenger and the medical staff yet.
Denilson will join him in the stands after injuring his back again while in more positive team news Tomas Rosicky looks a decent chance to return to the squad. Meanwhile Emmanuel Eboue has left the squad to join the Ivory Coast camp for the African Cup of Nations while Alex Song will be available for the next two matches after being granted permission to stay by Cameroon.
The team news means Manuel Almunia will captain a side that will feature the same back four that played against Villa, Song, Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby in the middle of the park and probably Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo and Samir Nasri up front. Theo Walcott’s decent cameo on Sunday may seem him force his way into the starting line-up while Carlos Vela and Rosicky remain outside chances to start.
I am particularly keen to follow the performances of Diaby and Eduardo in this game.
Diaby was, aside from Fabregas, the player of the game against Villa on the weekend and is in arguably the best form of his Arsenal career. He is dribbling well with the ball at his feet, using his characteristic unpredictability to good effect and perhaps most importantly making the right decisions at the right times. I feel he’s on the brink of becoming a very important player for this team and another good performance against Pompey will only increase his confidence.
Meanwhile I feel Eduardo is on the brink of a little scoring streak. He may have missed a guilt-edge chance early on against Villa but he got his first goal in a long while two games ago against Hull and has looked far sharper in the last couple of games. Diaby is living proof of what player’s can do when they get a few games under their belt and I just get the feeling that Eduardo’ss going to score tomorrow and might just grab two or three in his next few games.
If our defence plays as well as they did against Aston Villa then I can’t really see Portsmouth troubling us. It was the most cohesive performance our back five have put in this season and with Song in untouchable form at the moment things are looking good in that department. Indeed, despite the media consistently knocking our defence for not being up to scratch I found it interesting to note that we’ve conceded just 20 goals in 18 games, just two more than Manchester United and four more than Chelsea. Not bad, really.
Usually an away trip to the bottom side in the division is an expected three points and tonight is no different. Let’s hope the boys can get the job done without the services of the captain.
Have your say on Arsenal’s trip to Pompey by leaving a comment.