Good morning all,
This afternoon at 5.30 Arsenal take on United in what I see as a pivotal game for both sides.
Arsenal need to win to squash the lingering doubts that our recent run of good form is more down to our good play than it is to how poor our opposition has been. It’s been 16 points from 18 and I know you can only beat what’s in front of you of you, but Newcastle, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Brighton are about as easy a run as it gets. Still, we have taken advantage and since Smith-Row dispelled the ridiculous notion that we didn’t miss a creative player in midfield, we have in spells looked a much better unit and we can push to the back of our mind that we only managed 2 points from 21 previously when without one.
As for United, they were top of the table and cock-a-hoop until the worst team in PL history brought them crashing down at Old Toilet the other day. They will be keen to show that was the blipiest of blips and that they can mount a challenge for the title. Both teams have much to prove, so let’s hope it’s us that do the proving in a positive way.
We have had an extra days rest so that’s a slight advantage, but we need it because it seems some of our key players are carrying lingering knocks and strains, Partey, Smith-Row and Tierney, all may or may not be fit for this encounter. How many of them are fit and ready will have a big effect on how confident I feel when the whistle goes.
Will Martin Odegaard, the young man we have brought in to replace Ozil, the man we apparently didn’t need, be included in the squad or even the team? I can’t imagine it, but one never knows.
Which Brazilian will partner Rob Holding at centerback? The Covid hit young Gabriel or the age hit Luiz? Perhaps the outstanding game Luiz had in the reverse fixture (Have I remembered that correctly?) will tip the balance in his favour. It’s what I would do if Mari isn’t fully ready to start.
It seems our captain is not yet available either, so Pepe on the left seems likely.
Whatever happens we go into the game much more optimistic than we would have done a few short weeks ago and United will be less confident than they would have been a few days ago. I’m sure we are all looking forward to this fixture, which in itself is a bonus. The result and performance of both teams will tell us a lot today, let’s hope it tells us good news.
Enjoy the game and the weekend and stay safe