So, the BSM weekend is upon us. I hope the protesters don’t get carried away. Such a ‘walk’ can be a healthy and respectful demonstration of one’s point but it could easily turn into a complete mess. I don’t want to pass any comment on the event before seeing how it turns out so will leave it for the time being.
More interestingly and importantly (although some might disagree with the importance), we have a game at home against Aston Villa. In terms of Arsenal news and stories this week has been tiresome and felt like a year. I, for one, can’t wait for the game where a result is needed because a place in the top 3 carries more value than the fourth spot. From a psychological point as well, it would feel good to finish above City.
Tactically, Houllier’s Villa are different from that of O’Neill. This side tries to move the ball better and doesn’t rely as much on hoofs. That said, I won’t be surprised if they regress into old habits when the going gets tough. Unfortunately, that fallback to the primitive style could trouble us a lot more than their attempts to play ball.
Bent is a largely harmless striker who specializes in the sucker punch. The central defenders will have to be alert to his movement but more importantly they need to maintain their focus. The former Sunderland man thrives on lapses in concentration by defenders.
Ashley Young will be a threat but I expect Song to keep him in check.
Apart from that it is the usual set-piece vulnerability that will have many of us biting our nails every time Villa get a chance to float one into the Arsenal box.
In attack, I expect the Gunners to find spaces in the opposition half and the final third. This visiting side is not as well drilled in the dark arts of defending as the one managed by MoN. However, if the midfield is as laborious as it was against Stoke we might as well gift the opponents a clean sheet.
Wilshere is clearly exhausted after a marathon season. A while back Wenger mentioned this when he said that the youngster had hit a wall and the internal statistics showed that.
With that in mind, I’d love to see Vermaelen given the job of playing alongside Song in midfield but it won’t happen so I’m not spending too much time on discussing the benefits of such a move.
Wilshere will start so let’s keep the focus on that. I don’t expect a big game from the youngster but would prefer if he is given the simple task of staying back and spreading the ball. If he tries going forward with the ball it will crowd the attacking areas and slow things down.
Ramsey is the man who should take charge of creating in the final third along with RvP.
I’d also like to see Gibbs getting a game on the left in an attacking role in front of Clichy. The youngster has the pace to attack the back post when Theo gets the ball on the right. He can also put in some crosses for RvP and Walcott. This is not an ideal choice but it’s a move that should be tried just to see how it pans out. It could help in developing some flexibility next season.
Once again, I don’t really expect to see Gibbs in that role. Arshavin will be the most likely starter.
Preferred starting eleven
Szczesny – Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy – Song, Ramsey, Vermaelen – Walcott, RvP, Gibbs.
Expected starting line-up,
Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy – Song, Ramsey, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.
Ideally this game should have been a straightforward win. Given the recent form I don’t know what to expect. We could get some good football and a few goals. It could just as easily turn into an embarrassment after some bloopers at the back. At least it will be football.
Before I end, I wanted to share a few links. There were a couple of intelligent and humorous pieces on ArsenalArsenal in the last week. This one is about St. Totteringham’s day (some comments are brilliant) while this one makes an excellent point in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Do check them out if you haven’t already done so.
I also wanted to share this video of a stand-up act that I discovered recently in the course of random surfing. It’s not related to game of football per se, but talks about Liverpool, City, and United. I particularly liked the guy’s take on the Manchester clubs.