First things first, sorry about the lack of post yesterday. I’m not embarassed to say that I was at quite an emotionally-involving work conference yesterday that left me without the energy to do my usual thing.
For those that don’t know when I’m not blogging about Arsenal I work with people who struggle coping with mental illness. It’s a wonderfully rewarding line of work to be in but every once in a while you have to deal with some stuff that really takes it out of you and yesterday was one of those times. Today it’s back to Arsenal though and there’s some juicy stuff to get through.
It’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership this weekend in what should be a really tough test for our boys. Although they’ve been struggling at home a bit lately and lost their unbeaten streak to Liverpool earlier this season, Chelsea are in my opinion the best side in the league right now and clear favourites for the title. Needless to say they’re going to be very difficult to beat.
I’d imagine there would be quite a few supporters who would be happy with a draw at Chelsea but our current situation means that a win is almost a necessity. Taking points off the other ‘big four’ sides is the best way that our boys can get back in this title race and although Arsene Wenger’s men have been through a tough patch of late I can’t see any reason why they can’t put in another performance like they did against Manchester United.
While the midweek win against Kiev was not accompanied by anything close to a perfect performance, the signs are there that Arsenal are beginning to move on from the losses to Stoke, Villa and City and the issues with leadership. Indeed, new captain Cesc Fabregas (I promise this will be the last time I refer to him as ‘new captain’) has indicated that his side are ready for the clash with Chelsea and will be giving their all to come away from the game with all three points.
“We want to get back into the title race, so we have to win. Chelsea have been playing really well, the times I watched them, they have played good football with quick combinations. I respect them. (But) Arsenal never go anywhere for a draw.”
They’re admirable sentiments by the new captain but only time will tell whether the team that beat Manchester United come out to play or whether the team that slumped at City et al. rears its ugly head again. Given the prestige of the clash is far more United than Stoke and the fact that Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Bacary Sagna may all be available I’m feeling optimistic that it will be the former. As always, we’ll have to wait and see.
There’s not much point doing any sort of a prediction of the starting side given the lack of knowledge we have about player availability. All I will say is that I hope Johan Djourou starts in the middle at the back and not the right, that the manager plays Alex Song over Denilson in the middle and that Nicklas Bendtner aka Ol’ Pink Boots is brought back into the starting team. That is, of course, unless Adebayor is fully fit in which case I would like to see him rushed straight back into the side.
This should be a great game to watch for a number of reasons. One, because it is Fabregas’ first Premiership game as captain. Two, because Gallas will return to his old stomping ground is sure to receive one hell of a negative reception. Three, because the two sides have the potential to play brilliant football and this could be just as thrilling a game as the one against United. And four, because we absolutely need to win the match.
Even if we do fail – which is a distinct possibility – I want to see the boys give it 100% this weekend. They’ve come through a lot in the few weeks and showed tremendous courage at times. What they haven’t shown though is any inconsistency or a clear sign that the corner has been turned. Fabregas’ appointment as a captain and the win over Kiev were undoubtedly two steps in the right direction. A positive performance and result against Chelsea would be a bold third step and a real indication that this season may not be as fruitless as many people have predicted.
And that’s all there is to it really. It should be a corker and I’m looking forward to hopefully going in to work on Monday morning extremely happy if a little tired.
Come on boys!
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