Good morning and welcome to the penultimate pre match preamble of 2015/16. I can’t believe there is only one more to go after this one. It seems like only yesterday we were all getting our knickers in a twist about beating Jose in the Charity Shield. Now you remind people of that match and it’s all “Jose who?”. Curious how time stretches and compresses all at once. Watching the Graceless One collapsing and falling, already feels like ancient history and yet at the same time thirty six games have flashed past us in the blink of an eye.
We’ve all become somewhat used to having a cup final to look forward to as the first thunder storms of the year herald the opening chorus of another British summer. In stark contradistinction this season we have to make do with a play off for third place at The Etihad stadium. There may be even more at stake should Spurs’ raggedy band of prima donnas continue their petulant implosion. Personally I don’t see them losing both of their last two. They lost the plot at Chelsea because they were in such an unusual position for a club which has spent decades in Arsenal’s shadow and simply couldn’t cope with the rarefied air near the top of the tree.
When they realised they were not going to win the league their moral collapse was as spectacular as it was heart warming to watch. They have, however, had time to get over that and pull themselves together. That they haven’t faced a points deduction is of course a different story but we shan’t concern ourselves with their woes any further. If they lose and we win today, well then the final weekend will have a little more spice to it, otherwise our focus must be on the blue half of Manchester and nowhere else.
Man City are a bit of an enigma at the moment. Like us they are capable of dirge and dazzle in equal measure. They have a manager who, all things considered, they’ve treated pretty shabbily and who has nothing to gain from automatic qualification. They have some outstanding players who have performed in a patchy, inconsistent manner all season and yet they are right up there with us and Spurs, the only teams remotely close to the champions.
So what do I think is going to happen this afternoon? Absolutely no idea. Honestly why George picked me to write the pre-match is a real head scratcher. If I have any Mystic Meg in my lineage then Dad kept it very quiet and it’s a weak gene at best. If you like I could share what I think the manager might do selection wise. I suppose if nothing more you could disagree with me and we could have a heated debate about it. Although given that I’m happy to wait for the teams to be announced the heat in that argument may be somewhat more frigid than advertised.
I don’t see him changing much except perhaps for bringing Coquelin back and pushing Aaron further forward. With Welbeck staking a claim for a start it is possible Larry and Alex Iwobi may make way. But honestly what do I know about it? Given that our success against City has come from a more defensive performance in the past, Larry is an obvious starter as he can cope hanging around on his own up top waiting for the cavalry better than anyone else in the squad. I think the back five pick themselves at the moment but beyond that only Mesut, Elneny and Sanchez seem guaranteed to start. As for City’s line up I have no idea as I never watch them play.
So there you have it. I’m so stuck for anything to say I’ve resorted to the hack blogger’s ploy of second guessing the manager. Now I feel dirty. In fairness this end of season ennui was bound to affect us writers just as much as any other fan. Like the empty red seats at the Emirates there are empty spaces in my frontal and parietal association regions which are usually bubbling over with witty one liners, clever couplets and devious dactyls. I hope the Arsenal players are less devoid of creative inspiration today. Similarly it is my fervent wish that City and Spurs are so overwhelmed with grief at the tragic end of their hopes and dreams domestically and in Europe that they fail to raise themselves for the fight and bow out with a no more than a damp squib.
I wonder if lasagne is on the menu at White Hart Lane?