Saturday, March 15, 2014

It's North London Derby Day!

Adebayor, Lennon, and Dawson
I love Derby Day.  I don't consider playing Chelsea, West Ham, or Fulham as real derbies.  To me, this one is the one that counts.  I don't know if all overseas fans absorb the rivalry as I have.  I have a special I Hate Tottenham scarf at my disposal.  I take a vacation day off of work to celebrate St. Tottenham day,  and losing to them is like losing a trophy.  The one thing that is different over here is that there is a lack of a Spurs contingent, so I don't have co-workers or even family with whom I could exchange banter.  I thought that might change when NBC picked that "rabble down the road" as the team to highlight in their PR video with Jason Sudeikis - but fortunately we Americans are rather band-wagon-ish when it comes to picking teams.  Spurs' performances this season have tanked whatever overseas following they were hoping to get.  Thank God.  I can't imagine seeing Spurs jerseys over here, although that would allow for some enjoyable jeering and pointing.

Anyway, the trip to the Lane is earmarked by injuries to some of our best midfield players.  Ozil, Ramsey, and Jack are all out of contention with Rambo still feeling reoccurring pain in his thigh which is worrisome - so much so that the manager is looking to investigate what is causing this late season pile-up of injuries.  In the meantime, we have our Magic Spaniard and our Little Mozart both of whom can fill in for Mesut.  Podolski can go on the left to pick up his scoring record against the Spuds again and the Ox certainly needs to start whether on the right or in the middle, depending on whether Flamini starts with Arteta or not.

Wenger tactics are difficult for me to figure out.  Anyone who reads my prematch reports will note that my starting lineups are usually off by a few players.  If Wenger expects Sherwood to revert back to his open/attacking style of play that he invoked after first taking over managing the club, then I could see Arteta/Flamini axis being called in to stop their attacking threat and then maybe look to exploit their high line on a counter.  But if Sherwood sits deeper as he has been the past few matches, then I think one or the other will get a rest.  And let's not forget our miracle from January who may turn out to be a shrewd signing with all the injuries.  Kallstrom is fit, and according to Wenger, looking good:

“I think he can play an important part in the end of our season," said Wenger. "We are all absolutely delighted to have him with us because on a daily basis he is a joy to watch.
“He is a fantastic guy. His motivation and attitude has been spot-on. His readiness to put the effort in has been spot-on."

The fact that his heart seems to be in it is good to hear.  I'm sure he is somewhat aware of all the guff that was caused by him joining Arsenal while injured.  If he has any competitive bones left in his body, he will work hard to rectify the situation.  The whole transfer was so bizarre, having a meaningful contribution from him would go a little way in healing some of the disbelief disappointment incurred during January's window.  A little bit.  I hear there are 20/1 odds offered for tomorrow's match that Kim scores the winner in injury time.  I'm saving my best Kim prediction for April 14th. 

Anyway, even though Spuds have been playing somewhat boring, mediocre football, they are a mere six points below us in the table (we have a game in hand), and we know derbies are unpredictable - like a cup game.  Adebayor is encouraging his teammates to get physical and pressure us - knowing we don't like that kind of play.  He's somewhat right about that.  We have panicked at times when pressured, but I'm not sure Spurs are solid enough defensively in the back to hold us off if we get past pressing that's higher up the pitch.  Nor do I think they have the camaraderie needed to defend as a team.  Just a feeling. 

That's it for now.  Three points is a must tomorrow to pull away from those commoners and to gain traction in the title race yet again.  Chelsea dropped three points today to Aston Villa - anything is possible people.  Remember that.  If we play at our best from the get-go, I know we'll get the win.  Here's to making mash out of those 'taters.

Have a good one Gooners.

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