Arsenal tackle the Sunday bluesBy
If there’s one thing that really gets my goat on a Sunday that should be a good footballing Sunday, it’s the amount of negativity floating around about the Arsenal’s chances against our neighbours from down the Kings Road. Granted, there’s a lot of disappointment about Robin Van Persie’s long term injury, but for me, the disappointment is more for the player than it is for our perceived inability to cope.
The negativity about Arsenal’s chances this afternoon is not just coming from the media circles, but from some quarters of Arsenal fans around the blogosphere who look like they’ll be hiding behind the sofa come 4.00 pm.
The hype around the ”3 derby Sunday” is fever pitch as usual, though sometimes I find that all the hype about super Sunday’s and the promise of ecstatic football is underwhelming once the games kick off. Wenger doesn’t seem to mind the hype and sensationalism that is fuelled by the media machine, and perhaps just sees it as part of the entertainment.
We met Chelsea at Stamford bridge this weekend last year and beat them 2-1 with 2 crackers from Van Persie and an own goal from Johan Djourou just for good measure. However, just like with the game against Man United a few weeks earlier at the Emirates, the expectation that Arsenal will win was so low that when we eventually won, most people seem to focus on the short comings of the opposing team rather than accept that Arsenal were actually worthy winners.
In such games where Arsenal are designated as clear underdogs, it’s important that the Arsenal team focus on their own strengths and mental attitude. There are stereotypes abound when it comes to describing the ideal winning machine that is required to contend for titles in England. For most observers, Arsenal’s technical ability, creativity and speed around the park is misguidedly discounted in preference of perceived strength, height and grafting ability.
Arsene however prefers not to talk about Chelsea and leaves that to commentators. Rightly so, he believes our focus should be on our strengths and mental attitude and how we approach the game. It is more important to do our talking on the pitch. We have enough in our locker and we’re ready.
Samir Nasri certainly thinks so. And while acknowledging that the game against Chelsea is important and supporting Wenger’s belief that the team is ready for battle, he affirms that whatever the result, the team will still have belief in abundance. They are not turning up to make up the numbers and Chelsea will have to earn their corn.
We of course have our customary injury schedule, but we cannot use this as an excuse for not turning up as we have a big enough squad to cope. Eboue will probably be preferred at left back for such a big game, and Gallas looks optimistic as his boxer’s eye calms down.
There is certainly no reason to fear Chelsea despite the hyperbole about their strength and power – Wigan and Villa made this Chelsea team look very pedestrian. The match will not be easy though and we need to be on top of our game.
My prediction for a starting line-up:
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Eboue
Song Denilson Fabregas
Rosicky Eduardo Arshavin
Subs: Fabianski Silvestre Traore Nasri Vela Walcott