So the final weekend arrives and we’re no nearer to knowing whether we will be playing Champions League football next season.
We all know the equation by now: a win means third and automatic qualification. Anything less and we are at the mercy of Spurs and Newcastle. Finish fourth and we rely on Bayern Munich to beat Chelsea in the Champions League final. Finish fifth and it’s Europa League for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
If all of that isn’t enough to scare you I should add that we’re yet to win a game without Mikel Arteta in the starting line-up and haven’t won in the past three games. We’re not in good form and we absolutely need to change that because we have everything to play for.
In complete contrast West Brom have nothing to play for. It is a situation that can just as easily provoke an uncharacteristically creative performance (such as Norwich last weekend) as a disjointed, unmotivated one.
In saying all of this I expect our Arsenal boys to take care of business today.
In terms of squad news only Bacary Sagna has been added to the injury list — a broken leg last week means he will miss Euro 2012 — while Theo Walcott may return. Meanwhile West Brom are missing three of their best attacking players: Peter Odemwingie, Jerome Thomas and captain Chris Brunt.
Given the prize at stake (and the punishment for failure) today’s game is likely to be a tense affair. Goals may be at a premium, particularly if the first half is as scrappy as I foresee, and mental strength is likely to be the deciding factor.
Hopefully Wenger has a word to Alex Song and tells him to curb his attacking intentions. He may have assisted Robin van Persie’s first goal against Norwich but the Cameroonian’s sloppy positional play was a key factor in our poor defensive performance last weekend.
The likes of Szczesny and Vermaelen will be hoping for better games while further forward in Gervinho, Rosicky and Benayoun we have a creative trio that should cause West Brom lots of trouble.
There’s only so much analysing and predicting on a day like this. In the end it comes down to the team getting the job done, getting the result they require to finish the season on an extremely positive note.
Hopefully we’ll all be celebrating a comfortable victory, qualification to the Champions League and the latest (but perhaps sweetest, given the topsy-turvy nature of the season) St Totteringham’s Day in recent memory.
What do you think?
Get behind the boys and spread the Arsenal love by leaving a comment.идея за подарък