Trying to predict what Arsenal side takes to the field this evening is a little like trying to convince a hormonally charged teenager that Justin Bieber is in fact “a bit of a tit”. Or, if you prefer a more Arsenal related analogy, it’s like trying to explain to Nik Bendtner that actually, no, the world does not see him as the saviour reincarnate. He too, is just a bit of a tit.
But it’s a Matchday, I’ve got an hour tube journey to assimilate some thoughts, and by joining me on my journey you obviously feel like reading some of my prose. I can’t think why, The Management and family roll their eyes anytime I open my gob. But thank you anyway. So, shall we talk about this evening then?
When the fixture lists are set in stone (only to be recast once Sky and now BT Sport have their grubby mits on them) at the beginning of the season, there’s probably not many people that earmark this game as a ‘big one’ and if truth be told Hull are hardly a side with which we have any real animosity. There was that time when they tried to burn the retinas of all opposing teams by hiring a manager so orange he started his own gravitational pull and a mini solar system exploded from within him, but thankfully the Phil Brown era disappeared a long time ago, along with his Premier League managerial credentials.
It’s a totally different side that will take to the field tonight from a Hull perspective, with the only potential exception being Paul McShane, who seems to be one of those ageless midfield journeymen. Whether or not he’ll start tonight I’m not sure, but I know that they’ll be missing one of their main defensive stalwarts tonight through suspension: Curtis Davies.
I don’t really know too much about our opposition tonight, except that they made Kolo try to dismantle the Hull turf on Sunday with his mammoth fist. They have a tidy ‘keeper in McGregor and a load of ex (or on loan) Spuds players, so we’ll need to keep an eye out for that ‘let’s get a bit of revenge for our former club’ mentality, but there’s no doubt that we’re overwhelming favourites tonight.
We will need to be wary though. The dispatching of Liverpool on Sunday showed that this team are capable of an upset. Yes, the game was on their own turf and yes Liverpool were a bit pants, but we need to be wary of the scabby corner of set-piece delivery followed by a game of defence versus attack as Hull show no ambition to get forward after scoring their only effort on goal after seven minutes.
We should have enough though, even if as Arsene has suggested, he rotates a little bit. The one enforced change will be Jenkinson for Sagna, who picked up a knock against Cardiff, and the young right back will be eager to make amends for his horror-show against Chelski in the Capital One Cup over a month ago. I, like you I’m sure, hope that Carl can recapture some of the form that earned him an England call up last season, but concentration needs to be something he needs to get better at. It’s games like tonight where that is most important. In defence, at home, against an opponent that will attempt to frustrate, he might only be called into defensive action a couple of times during the 90, so it’s important that concentration levels remain high. On the positive side, he’s one of the best distributors of the ball from out wide in the whole squad, so if he’s spending most of the evening getting forward it could be good for his confidence and the managers that he can step in when needed.
As for the rest of the team, Arsene has said he will have to rotate, but caveated his comments by asserting that he prefers to do it by smaller numbers per game, which means that I’m not sure that we’ll see too much switching around in the same areas of the pitch. That means I think we’ll see either Monreal or Vermaelen miss out a start in the side because of the forced change at right back. Le Boss mentioned something about the full backs getting more tired in games in his presser, so I wonder if the captain misses out and Monreal gets another shot at left back.
In midfield your guess is as good as mine. Personally, I’d like to see a three of Arteta, Rosicky and Wilshere, with Theo, Cazorla and Giroud up top. That’s not a slight on Özil, but I just want to make sure he’s fully fit and firing on all cylinders for Everton on Sunday. Likewise for Ramsey who, let’s face it, has covered the equivalent ground as Forrest Gump did in that film, I forget the name…
This is a classic ‘nosebleed’ game in my opinion. Everyone expects us to win and complacency could easily set in. But the one thing you have to say about The Arsenal this season is that we have been able to dispatch the so-called lesser teams with a lot more ruthless efficiency this season. With that in mind, we should be hopeful of a win and demanding of a good and positive start, but we shouldn’t take anything for granted.
So have at it lads, bring home the three points, and we’ll all sing up for The Arsenal.