@LaboGoon casts off the weeks cobwebs and heads for N5
Good day one and all,
The headline fixture this weekend will no doubt be Arsenal’s second London derby in as many weeks, with Chelsea taking the short trip across the capital to the Emirates Stadium.
Last Saturday the Gunners endured a miserable time at the London Stadium, compounded by wins for our top-six rivals, bar Tottenham of course who do have a seven point advantage. Now, six points off of top-four and beyond halfway through the Premier League season, Unai Emery will hope his side has put that Hammers’ game behind them with the visit of Hazard and co.
For all our concerns of how Unai goes about his business there’s no denying that his Arsenal project is still very much a work in progress. With the honeymoon period now a thing of the past though, we do hope he works out his best matchday XI sooner rather than later, because with games against the Blues today and defending champions Mancity on the horizon, the team definitely have their work cut out if they want to see a revival of their Champions League qualification hopes. Victory here today would give an invaluable boost in pursuit of that following a rather indifferent past few weeks.
In like manner, Chelsea will want to maintain their place in the top-four and a win for them would really turn the screw in the race for 4th place, as a nine point gap may prove to be too difficult a deficit to turnover for the Gunners.
Both sides have their strengths and drawbacks, which almost seem to even each other out; whereas Arsenal’s main struggles are at the back, the visitors lack a reliable finisher with Morata’s head in the Spanish capital and Giroud injured. Likewise, the hosts possess match winning attackers, whilst Maurizio Sarri’s team have one of the PL’s best defenses as only Liverpool have kept more clean sheets than them all season.
Where was this “match winning attackers” last weekend some may ask as both Lacazette and Auba started, well, they didn’t see nearly enough of the ball for us to be in control of the game. Which has led to what has been more than just a hot topic all week – Mesut Özil’s absence. It started with Sokratis saying post match that we lacked creativity, having had just three shots on target, two of them hopeful shots by Guendouzi from outside the box.
Now the question most are asking is will Unai draft in our creative enforcer who can deliver two to three golden chances per game. That’s anyone’s guess, but if Özil don’t play the onus will be on the forwards to make more of the half chances than recently.
Playing at home always seem to give the Gunners that bit of an extra edge but make no mistake, that’s not going make our opponents less difficult. And while I’m sure a draw won’t be frowned upon… in the context of top-four and Manutd hosting Brighton in an earlier game, we need a win more than anything else and now certainly is the time to play brave or go home as we eye more than just a fifth consecutive win in front of the Emirates faithful.