Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Back On The Horse

Time to Get back On...

The downward spiral of Arsenal's performances have made it difficult to write.  The negatives of the team have been talked about so many times, as have the deficits caused by injuries and, in my opinion, poor managerial decisions.  But now having secured an FA Cup final spot in nail biting  fashion, it's time to get back to writing and back to the Premier League battle for fourth.

Today is West Ham at the Emirates.  Normally, Andy Carroll and company would not worry me too much and could even be seen as predictable.  But the end of this season is anything but normal.  Yes, we have fallen away in the past (though not so nearly catastrophically), and we have had to battle for fourth spot.  But we are sprinting to the finish after playing 120 minutes two days ago, with 11 injuries and one suspension to boot.  Podolski, Ox, Monreal, Koz, and TR7 all face late fitness tests and Flamini is  still paying the price of too many yellow cards.  That leaves us a real conundrum in the midfield.  I suspect Kallstrom will start for us and hope that at least two of the four pass their tests to help round everything out.  Monreal can play at left wing if Santi is needed behind the striker (Ollie or Yaya?), but I really hope Tommy is back in the squad.  His habit of pushing us upfield at opportune times, and his enforced rest, could be vital for us today.  Also, did anybody else notice that Bendy was back in the training pictures?  He has played right wing before.  Wenger could shift to a 4-4-2 like he did against Wigan if he wants a more offensive threat.  Still, that leaves the midfield a bit open, which might go against his overall game plan:

“The best way to [cope with Carroll] is to stop the source because you know once the ball is in the air you have a real problem to win it against him,” said the manager. “It is for us to have the ball first and, when we do not have the ball, to stop the source to him.”

Good in theory, but the personnel need to be available to achieve it.  West Ham will be looking to play wide and cross the ball in.  Our full backs and center backs will have to be on their toe4s and have help covering those gaps that Everton so successfully exploited a couple of weeks ago.  Having Koz in the side would just make me feel more at ease against the likes of Carroll and Nolan, who likes to be on the end of the striker's flick-ons.

Three points is a must here, of course.  Everton play Crystal Palace next.  And while Tony Puk-is has them looking good, Martinez' side will be confident that they too can get the win.  Playing well in front of a home crowd is so important as well.  Hearing on Twitter and Arsecast about fellow Gooners breaking into fights at Wembley is embarrassing, and is a sign of the level of frustration at fan level.  Playing well could help alleviate the emotional frenzy that seem to blind some to levels of appropriate behavior.  We all know it's okay to agree to disagree, right?

That's it for now.  I'll be back with a post-match reaction which hopefully will have us looking forward to our randomly rescheduled game against Hull on Sunday.  Take care you Gooners.

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