It’s the big derby match tonight between Arsenal and Tottenham and I’m getting pretty excited. I’ll speak about the Spurs game in a moment, but before then there’s a couple of interesting bits of news involving former Arsenal players to run through.
First up is the announcement that Tony Adams has been appointed as manager of Portsmouth. The ex-Arsenal captain has been promoted from assistant manager to the top job as a result of Harry Redknapp’s surprise move to Tottenham. I think I speak for every Arsenal supporter on the planet when I wish him the best of luck – except of course when he plays us and I will be wishing him the worst of luck. Sorry Tony.
Another ex-Arsenal man who has been in the news is Freddie Ljungberg. The Swedish midfielder, who left Arsenal for West Ham in 2007 before having his contract terminated, has agreed to join MLS club Seattle Sounders in a big money move. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Ljungberg is my all-time favourite Arsenal player – I used to love watching the (once) spiky Swede play – and as with Tony Adams I wish him all the best in his time in the US.
Moving onto the Arsenal-Spurs game now and our boys will host their bottom-of-the-table rivals at Emirates Stadium tonight in what is sure to be a fiery and tense affair. Spurs might be sitting last in the Premiership but the sacking of Juande Ramos and a first win of the season over Bolton on the weekend should see their players on something of a high when they play our boys. With a new manager at the helm the players will be keen to impress and Tottenham will be giving it absolutely everything to cause an upset.
Team news going into the game is positive. Bacary Sagna and Kolo Toure have both been passed as fully fit by the manager while Denilson will also return to the squad after overcoming some inflammation in his back. Their returns mean it is only Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky who remain unavailable, a huge turnaround in fortune from a few weeks ago when we had significant absentees, particularly in defence.
It will be interesting to see who Wenger starts in this match, given the return of two first-choice defenders and his comments about rotation and player impact off the bench. If I was in the manager’s shoes I would probably go for a similar team to the one that played so well against West Ham, except with Emmanuel Adebayor in for Nicklas Bendtner and Sagna in for Emmanuel Eboue. Mikael Silvestre deserves to keep his place alongside William Gallas at Toure’s expense while the same can be said about Alex Song in the centre of the park.
Although this is the team that I would play I can see the manager bringing in Abou Diaby for Samir Nasri, who has been a little quiet in his last two games, and perhaps playing an Adebayor-Bendtner combination up front. Although it wouldn’t be my personal choice the good thing is that the manager has options available too him and if things aren’t working he has even more options on the bench.
Both derby games last season were hard-fought, tight affairs which Arsenal were a little fortunate to win. In the away game at White Hart Lane they missed a couple of sitters before Cesc Fabregas and Adebayor scored wonder goals while in the home Arsenal relied on a penalty save by Manuel Almunia to pave the way for Bendtner’s winner. They were both great games and it was a wonderful feeling to grab six points from the pockets of our most hated rivals.
Despite Tottenham’s lowly standing on the table this will not be an easy game. Redknapp will be drilling into their heads the need to play with heart and desire and I expect them to come out very strong in the opening 20 minutes. As a result, our boys will need to get into rhythm early to whether the storm and bring the crowd into the match. Just as an aside, if you happen to be in that crowd tonight make sure you make a lot of noise. The team is depending on you and they deserve your full support.
So, nothing much else needs to be said except that it’s a huge game and three points will keep us near the top of the table. It’s a home game so a win is a must and I’m confident in the team and the manager to get the result they are looking for.
Come on Arsenal!
Have your say on Arsenal v Tottenham by leaving a comment.