Good gloyven, I didn’t know I could eat and drink so much, such was the merriment from yesterday. I think I must have consumed my own body weight in Christmas dinner and cashew nuts. It’s a good job I have nothing to do today other than get nervous about the game this evening, which perhaps will allow me to burn off some of the food I had through all that nervous energy.
Southampton away on Boxing Day. I don’t know why, but it always feels like we play them away at this time of the year, which we certainly did last year. It also feels like we’re always beaten by them. Or we drop points. Last year we lost 2-0 in a game in which we were awful and Szczesny pretty much ended his Arsenal career. The year before that we drew 1-1, as we did the year before that and even the season that Southampton were relegated, we still didn’t manage to pick up three points. So it’s not exactly a happy hunting ground for us.
However, this is an Arsenal team who will be in high spirits after a good win against City, going in to this game having built quite a bit of momentum with a host of victories both in the league and the Champions League. So whilst our record is poor and Southampton will be a tough challenge, we have to fancy ourselves this evening, because the Saints have been struggling a bit for goals. Of course you just know, after they were beaten by the Spuds last weekend, that they’ll be massively up for this game. There’s no way they’ll make the same defensive mistakes they did for Kane et al. I expect Mane, Pelle and Tadic to all play out of their skins, and you just know that Shane Long will make an impact at some stage.
But we have players who you and I both know that can make a difference today. There’s been talk of resting Özil at some stage over the Christmas period, but I just don’t see it today, not away against Southampton. We need him to be un-picking the lock of what I see will be a stubborn Saints back line. We also need Ramsey to continue his good form. If that’s through more goals then great, but his ability to cover ground and provide both a defensive body as well as an attacking one in the box, has been a real advantage to us in picking up the points. Think about the goal he got against Sunderland. No other midfielder in our team gets in that position to stab the ball in from inside the six yard box. So we need him to provide options for the likes of Özil. He was unlucky not to score against Hart on Monday night. Let’s hope he gets in to more of those positions.
I suspect the whole team will pretty much be identical to the one that played on Monday, more through lack of choice as much as keeping a winning side, so we’ll continue to see Campbell and Walcott on opposite wings. Giroud up top with Rambo and Flamini behind Özil, whilst the back five will pick itself.
I’m hoping we can break our Southampton away day hoodoo tonight. If we do, we might just find ourselves top of the league after this round of matches, because I have a feeling Leicester might come-a-cropper against Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon. That’d suit us just fine though, providing we do the business in the evening.
Come on Arsenal, you can do this!
Comment…Arsenal win Saints today…
I hope so Chris!