Saturday, 26 February 2011

Can mature Gunners break duck?

The best adjective to describe Wednesday's important win and three points against Stoke was 'mature', it was genuinely this kind of performance. Over the last two to three months we have seen more of these kind of performances and with these our hopes have risen, Sunday gives us a massive opportunity to consolidate these hopes and win a trophy. There is now a bit of decent pressure on Manu as they approach a few tricky fixtures, although the Mancs remain favourites for the league title, they will be sweating more than just a little bit now.

Arguably we should have been more than a goal up against Stoke, but the fact that we held on to this single goal lead with a fair degree of comfort said a lot about the maturity and confidence that the side has developed of late. We are keeping more clean sheets, we are defending leads better and we are becoming far harder to beat. Part of this is undoubtedly down to the terrific Szczesny between the sticks, he oozes confidence which affects the whole back four, he also has the ability to make big saves and dominate his box, his save at full stretch from Carew was another top notch piece of keeping from the young Pole. Johan Djourou's emergence and Wilshere's work rate in front of the back four have also been the other two key reasons for our increased solidity.

Obviously the loss of Cesc and Theo to injury is not ideal, however we still have more than enough to beat Birmingham if we perform to the best of our ability at Wembley on Sunday. Cesc's hammy does not look like it will keep him out for more than a game or two, it would be foolish to gamble with his fitness, Theo looks like being out for two to three weeks. The big choice for Arsene will be whether to move Nasri back into Cesc's position, replacing Nasri in the front three with Bendtner, or to play Diaby instead of Cesc. Personally I'd stick Nasri in the midfield three, then stick Bendtner up front:

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy
Song Wilshere Nasri
Bendtner RVP Arshavin

Diaby may well get the nod, I don't know, but I just see the injury prone midfielder as being a bit too erratic, plus Bendtner has been doing a good job for the team of late. It looks like Diaby/Kos/RVP are all fit. Birmingham have more than their fair share of absentees, and it looks likely that they will stick the big lump Zigic up top and punt a lot of balls up to him. Frankly the referee is as big a threat as anyone in the Birmingham side, as UntoldArsenal explain, Mike Dean is a terrible terrible referee, he also appears to make a lot of decisions against us and very few for us, there is a good chance that this hapless little weasel will try to steal the headlines on Monday morning.

Just to finish with some other random stuff. It's good to see Aaron Ramsey is in contention for the upcoming midweek cup replay against Orient, he completed his short loan spell at Cardiff with a well taken goal as they won 2-0. Kyle Bartley is getting some excellent experience on loan at Rangers, he has a good chance of coming into the first team squad for next season. This excellent piece on Barca's rank hypocrisy is well worth a read, they routinely poach kids themselves but when they lose their own kids without any rules being broken they seem to think that this is completely unacceptable, strange that tapping up players who are under contract is also allowed in their eyes as long as it is Barca is doing the tapping up. Sad to hear that the ex-Wolves and Spurs player Dean Richards has died at the age of 36 after a long battle against serious illness, rest in peace Sir.


Senkayi Umar said...

The absence of Cesc will definately be felt. Coz if u review da Stoke match, his 14 mins ön da pitch created more chances, just that his passes ar too Clinical! Well as Nasri showed alot of restrain, Cesc was al out. Diaby is too slow, So feeding RVP will be a problem. Cesc, RVP paternaship iz very enterprising!

Rhinogooner said...

Rest in peace Dean Richards.

What a genuinely sorrowful event.

Anonymous said...

Stick the 5 years up your arse!!! Stick the five years up your arse!! Stick the five years, stick the five years, Stick the five years up your arse!!!