After seeing our players lose some of their fighting spirit in the final half hour in Portugal, there is only one question in my mind right now. Are we in for another implosion like the one we saw after that horrific game at Birmingham?
I don’t go around spreading doom and gloom stories and this is not an attempt at that either. I am just genuinely worried. Right now we are in a good position in the league and have a run of games coming up where we can really gain momentum. I can keep the faith but I am beginning to wonder if all the players can as well.
There is no point dwelling on the topic as it’s a problem for Arsene to diagnose and treat. Let’s shift the thoughts to the game at hand. Am I the only one who feels this is a good game for us to be playing at this point?
Sunderland are competing with us for sure, but it’s in the injuries department and not on the field. In fact, we can expect a considerably weakened midfield from the visitors. On the other hand they are getting some of their defenders back from injury and that will give them some belief of repeating the clean sheet from the reverse fixture.
When they got massacred at Stamford Bridge the Black Cats had Cana playing at center back and they still tried taking the game to Chelsea. Now that their first choice defense is coming back I expect Steve Bruce will come to the Emirates with the intention of parking the bus. I don’t think they have the midfield that can press us high up and their main hope will be that our generosity in defense continues.
If Bruce does take the brave option of attacking us I am sure we will be in for a goal fest. I haven’t seen enough Sunderland games to know for sure whether he will or will not come with a positive mindset. The safe option given their team sheet looks to be a highly defensive one. In case they do sit back, Bendtner’s presence in the penalty box will be extremely important to us.
Our team news is not very good. It’ll definitely be good to have Song and Almunia back but I am a little concerned with the mysterious injury that Diaby has picked up. After getting a run of games the lanky Frenchman was looking like imposing his mark on the league but a Medial Knee Ligament injury sounds serious. I’m hoping it’s a false alarm and will vanish just as mysteriously!
There are two other question marks for this game. Can Sol Campbell and Tomas Rosicky play two games in three days? If there is any doubt at all about their fitness I’d prefer that they are rested. The replacements in Silvestre, Walcott or Eboue might not be the most popular but should be strong enough to do a job at home against a struggling unit.
I would also like to see Nasri get another chance in a central midfield role. With Song back and the likelihood that Sunderland will mostly rely on fast breaks and long balls, we should be able to give Nasri a chance. It’s his preferred position and I feel Fabregas will get more freedom to push forward. Anyway, I’ve said this often enough and it seems to me that Arsene must have a very good reason for sticking with Denilson so I won’t get my hopes high.
I think this would also be a good game to have Eboue in the final third. He brings a direct thrust and can take players on. When a team packs the defense it is important to have such a player in attacking areas. By reverse logic this isn’t the best game to give Walcott a start. He thrives on open spaces and a parked bus isn’t exactly his playground.
In case Rosicky isn’t fit, I’d love to see Vela get a game. Maybe it’s just me, but I do think the young Mexican and the big Dane play well together and seem to have a better understanding with each other than with the rest.
I would like to see the following starting line up,
Almunia/Fabianski; Sagna, Campbell/Silvestre, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Cesc, Nasri; Eboue, Bendtner, Rosicky/Vela.
It’s about time we started scoring for fun once again. I think we’ll match our average home result, 3-1 to the Arsenal.