Another important game in a series of crucial ties which, guess what? Yep, you guessed it, define our season. It seems that every time we have a shocker we have a series of matches that end up defining the season. Despite recovering in the league to some extent, our match today represents our last realistic opportunity to win anything this season; the FA cup.
I have made my thoughts clear on this in the past few days but I do not see the worth in winning the FA Cup and not qualifying for the Champions League. We could after all do both at this stage and the season, despite all the frustration will be looked on with much admiration from the fans and that is what will be remembered. However it seems from Wenger’s quotes this morning he pretty much concedes the squad available to him at present is not one that is really capable of challenging on multiple fronts.
Be that as it may it seems that any negative result will only encourage the ongoing negativity surrounding the club. Wenger has many staunch followers, I count myself among them if truth be told but the once vocal supporters are even muted at the moment. The dismay and shock amongst most fans is apparent but I for one that we can continue providing the players support on the pitch whatever our feelings may be. I overheard some Arsenal “fans” saying that they’d “love it if we lose, not even Wenger would survive that”. I just cannot comprehend this sort of attitude because surely whether he is the best man or not, whether he is too stubborn or just too crazy is by the by if we win. There is little to worry about with regards to our supporters today as our travelling fans are absolutely brilliant.
Lets get past the back drop and move onto the main event. We are in for another tough afternoon, that is for sure. I fully expect that the plough field from last week is still in shit condition and without attempting to create any pre-emptive excuses, it really did hamper our play last week and I fully expect it do so again. Both teams will have to deal with it but I just hope it doesn’t cause us any more injuries.
News has come out that Mertesacker has had reconstructive surgery on his ankle ligaments. While I am no doctor I will say it sounds like this has ruled him out for the remaining season and as I have expressed, I really do think we will miss him. Laurent Koscienly is also out with a knee injury but the news is not as bad as initially feared. He should be back for the crucial tie against Spurs next week. They are the only bits of new news on the injured list and are added to the long term absentees of Carl Jenkinson, Andre Santos, Jack Wilshire, Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Frimpong. On a positive note though, we are likely to see Carl Jenkinson return to full training as of Monday.
Gervinho is likely to return to the team today after his excursions in the AFCON. Despite him missing a penalty in the final it is fair to say that he had a positive tournament from what I saw and we hope that he can bring some of the form he showed back with him. Chamakh may also play today as we are likely to rest key man Robin Van Persie as he has seemingly played all games of note so far this season.
Baring that in mind along with the absences of both Koscienly and Mertesacker this is the team I expect to line up today:
Sagna Djourou Vermaelan Gibbs
I sincerely hope that the Ox starts in place of Walcott and Szczesny in place of Fabianski but this is the team I expect will play.
Expect a fierce and tough game today with no respite and don’t be surprised if it is a draw. I hope I am wrong and it is a stroll but as Arsenal fans we know life just is not that simple anymore…