Here we are folks. Derby day. The most worrying day of the year as far as I’m concerned. Derby day has the potential to delight or disappoint in equal measure. A win against that lot down the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road puts us in a superb position going in to the international break next week. A defeat conjures up the melancholy mopers both on and offline. I’m just fortunate that the last Spud fan in my office left the company a couple of months back. But that still doesn’t mean they won’t crawl out of the woodwork if we get done over.
Today we will see just how deep our squad is. Wednesday wasn’t a true reflection of that. Wednesday saw us up against arguably the best team in the world and with a depleted squad we never really stood a chance. But today will give us the insight as to whether we truly can challenge. We have nine players out at least I believe, with Welbeck, Walcott and Wilshere, all being joined by Bellerin, Ospina, Arteta, The Ox, Ramsey and inevitably Rosicky. It’s a fair chunk of the first team, yet we still have an eleven that I believe can win this game.
The back five of Cech, Monreal, Koscienly, Mertesacker and Debuchy all have enough experience and quality to keep out the likes of Kane, Erikson, Lamela or Dembele. I also think Debuchy had a better game against Munich than he did against Sheffield Wednesday, so the hope is that he just needs game time. In some perverse way, perhaps the Bayern game was a good one for him.
He’ll need to be at his best against an attack that boasts a bit of trickery about it and with Danny Rose sure to start, he’ll be looking to overload the Frenchman. The good news is that in Joel Campbell there is a right winger who has shown a degree of defensive responsibility that could prove vital when the left wing of the Soud attack ventures forward.
On the other side of the flank I’d hope that Alexis can get back to his best form against Walker, one of my chief hopes for the day being that the Chilean gives him a rough ride by going at him from early on. Walked has a mistake or two in him and if our best player is at his best, that side of the pitch could be where we get some joy this afternoon.
But it’s not just Alexis. There needs to be big games from Özil, Giroud and the Santi-Coq axis. What I’m hoping for is the crisp passing that we saw against United. We were lightning quick that day and blitzed United before they even had the chance to realise they were in a game. If we start that quickly and that well today, three points will be ours.
Derbies are always tense affairs, but control of possession can ensure that we win the day I think. Pochettino will set his side up to press hard and press high, so we need to be able to soak pressure up when we don’t have the ball too, then break with rapid efficiency. Think the goal that Özil scored against United. Yeah, that.
My hands are ‘nervous cold’ already. I get like this before every game but they feel extra cold today. This game means a lot. The players will know it and we need them to perform. Last season we picked up one point from a possible six against them. Let’s beat that record this season already.
Please Arsenal. Do this.