доброе утро Positivistas,
For those of you keenly anticipating the wit and wisdom of young Stew this morning after the Summer break you may be dismayed to discover a change of plan. As someone who was also looking forward to the morning musings of our resident quill-meister I am among you.
Normal service will be resumed in the near future. As Arsene says it is essential that top performers enjoy a proper break to recover mentally and physically from a the heavy 55 game 2015/2016 season, and prepare properly for the long contest ahead.
On to the football match and if I were choosing a game to preview then probably Leicester at the King Power would be around or at the top of the list.
The two top sides in the PL last season, both sides backed by excellent keepers, crammed with attractive ball players, and you just know both sides will score goals today. There is always noise at Leicester’s stadium. The home crowd is always frantic and a small pitch ensures that all the action is condensed. Despite watching the game on the TV I find in smaller, noisier grounds I am much more off my seat and in and out of the domestic technical area.
The Fates have even graced us with Mr Clattenburg so we have the best the footballing authorities can supply in terms of a match official. I hope we shall hear no more of Mr C for the whole weekend, though that rather depends on the players. Dissent ? I may have been watching the wrong games last week but my impression was that ( almost all) players were more cautious, a smidgeon more restrained in their contact with the referees and the linos. We shall see if the behavioural modification lasts.
Of our opponents it is still a bit strange, this Leicester City ‘phenomenon’. Until last season LCFC were, not to be too unkind, a bit of a joke, a bit of a ‘guaranteed six points’. Always had been a soft touch, either skilful dandies but with no bite, or rough and with no footballing brain. Either way easy meat for Arsenal season in, season out.
Both our games in 2015/2016 showed the formidable change in the Foxes, 7-3 on aggregate. LCFC over 38 games an example, in a week of transfer hysteria, that football is a team game and a players combined, thinking, moving, organising on the pitch together, who are determined will always achieve more than 11 individuals no matter their price and/or the size of their wage. That we managed to inflict two of only three league defeats on Ranieri’s side was very much to our credit last season, that only one other club managed to best them is very much to theirs.
Both clubs started the campaign with a blip last weekend and there were the inevitable references to an “ashen-faced” Claudio Ranieri and an “ashen-faced” Arsene Wenger this week “under pressure” and this evening’s designated a “must win” game for both.
Let’s get it clear shall we. Win, draw or lose today any dancing in the streets would be premature. 36 games to go. I know some Arsenal fans by Monday last had given up on the PL. For them the trophy, even any thought we might challenge for the trophy, was gone. I think they are foolish. I trust by about 7.20 tonight they will also feel they were a little foolish.
Of the prospective line-ups I see Huth is back in the centre of the Leicester defence and I assume that will improve on their shakey back 4 display against Hull. Other than Musa I think we know all just about all their players and I expect no surprises. We know what they ‘do’, they know what we ‘do’.
Us ? Arsene was particularly gnomic in the press conference on Thursday. Rob Holding, who I am sure will play alongside Chambers again, will enjoy and learn from the experience over 90 minutes far more than he would from second string action of watching from the bench. I expect Xhaka, Elneny and Le Coq all to get on the pitch today. I fancy the Ox to make his mark today as an attacking force.
Enjoy the game and we shall speak later.