Eugh…Christmas two-day benders…fun at the time but when you eventually wake up to smell the coffee, it ain’t great, is it?
That’s where I’m at this morning, but if there’s anything that can stir me from a day under the duvet, it’s The Arsenal. A 1.30pm kick off away to Aston Villa on a weekend in which United dropped points, City got away with three (just about) and either the Spuds or Leicester – or both – will drop points. So we find ourselves with a very real chance of being top of the league come the end of play today folks. Wouldn’t that be nice?
It’s not a forgone conclusion though. As Arssnal fans we know that Arsenal are perfectly capable of ‘Arsenaling’ the situation up. We saw as much a few weekends ago with the defeat to West Brom. Aston Villa may have been terrible all season, but they have a familiar face in the shape of Remi Garde who steered them towards a decent point away from Southampton and he’ll be hoping to get his first league win against his old club this lunchtime.
Villa will most likely try to set up like West Brom did; press, look to be solid defensively and hit us on the counter. West Brom wanted to bruise us a bit and it wouldn’t surprise me if Villa do the same – especially with a big guy like Gestede up top – so we need concentration and composure at the back. Just in front of our usual back five, Flamini gets another shot at trying to look like a decent Premier League level defensive midfielder, but hopefully he’ll have the nous to stay defensive minded and not go wandering. As much as we find wonder strikes like the Spuds ones he got fabulous, he’s not paid to pop up in the box, so I hope he keeps his discipline and leaves the attacking thrusts to his midfield partner Aaron Ramsey. Rambo scored last weekend and he will get a chance or two today, so hopefully he takes them if he gets them.
The attacking front four will see Özil and Giroud and I’d be surprised if Arsène doesn’t name both Walcott and Campbell on the flanks. The only question would be whether Arsène wants to risk Walcott after starting him in midweek, but provided he has shown no ill affects from the game in Greece, he simply has to start.
If it’s an unchanged side, it’ll be a side brimming with confidence and so what I hope we get to see is a team who pop the ball around quickly, is incisive in its forward movement and has a bit of swagger about it. If they show that within the first ten or 15 minutes, I think it will bode well for the afternoon, hopefully resulting in us taking all three points.
This is another ‘must win’ game. We need to take advantage when rivals drop points – any rivals – and we need to start putting together a winning run.
Come on you reds!