So it begins. I guess all of us are looking forward to this period albeit with different mindsets. Some, like me, who believe in the team are hopeful of positive results over the next fortnight. Others are waiting for a slip-up so that they can come out and criticize the team and vent their frustrations.
In either case, judging by the response to yesterday’s article, I think most of us expect a win tomorrow, although some are cautious and believe it will be a draw. There aren’t many who think we will lose at Villa Park and hopefully the squad and the manager will have similar confidence. After all, history is on our side as we haven’t lost in the last ten league visits, while winning half our games.
Arsene is excited and wants to consolidate the league position. Speaking at the press conference Le Boss said,
It is an exciting period for us because we are in a very good position. I make it a good opportunity to strengthen our position in the League. That is how I see it. We have a good level of confidence and know that with so many big games, psychologically it is important to go in with a high level of confidence, so every result has an influence on the next one.
The psychological part is indeed very important. A good result here can set us up nicely for the big clash at the weekend. For all we know, United might be coming into that one on the back of a demoralizing loss in the Carling Cup.
Anyway, as all the wise men say, right now the focus should be on the game at hand. We have some players returning from injury and should be able to put out a strong side for this one. The first choice defense should be restored and the return of Ramsey will give us a strong midfield. Rosicky, Eduardo and Arshavin should make a good front three once again.
We might have a really strong bench now that Bendtner and Narsi will be available along with Theo, Vela, Campbell and Traore. This also gives us the opportunity to mix things up as the great Dane, almost literally, offers a different dimension and so does Walcott.
To me, this game is simple in terms of tactics – We have to break down a resolute defense while being strong enough to prevent counter attacks and be solid on the set pieces. I thought our home game was brilliant defensively and there is no reason we shouldn’t see a repeat performance given that some key players have had a good rest.
Wenger has to make sure that we don’t pay the price for Rambo’s inexperience or Denilson’s weakness in the defensive half. Both these players have to come out with a focus on their defensive duties and leave the creative part of the game to the likes of Cesc, Rosicky and Arshavin.
It will be interesting to see which team starts off at a higher tempo. If we can control the tempo from the start it will help us negate the crowd and affect the hosts’ confidence. Allowing Villa to dominate the early play can put us under pressure, especially if they manage to score.
Baring any late injury concerns the starting line up is quite likely to be,
Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy; Ramsey, Cesc, Denilson; Rosicky, Eduardo, Arshavin;
I am gunning for a 2-1 win (hopefully, this won’t be a repeat of my prediction against Stoke) with Cesc and Arshavin to score. And yes, it’s very difficult for me to imagine Arsenal keeping a clean sheet. Believe me, I am trying hard but it’s just not working for me right now.