Howdy fellow Arsenal fan. I hope you are well on a Saturday and haven’t been as morose as me this week, what with us being knocked out of two competitions and barely clinging on for dear life in our final one, the Premier League.
I have been pretty down since pretty much the United game and whilst I’ve tried to get myself up for games since then, the belief has ebbed away from me, due in the most part to the teams pretty atrocious form.
But the players we have are not terrible. They haven’t suddenly turned awful overnight and at some stage they will have to pick up results. As an Arsenal fan I am privileged enough to witness my team – over the course of a season – win more games than they lose, so with that in mind, I’m just going to try my hardest to stay positive ahead of the away trip to Everton this lunch time. This is my game face and it’s one that is a smile through gritted teeth.
Sure our form is woeful. Sure Everton will be on a high since reaching the semi’s at the hands of Chelski. Sure we haven’t won there in our last three attempts. And sure our players might all be cream cracker-ed. But The great thing about football’s short termism is that there’s always another game and so you can try to forget your woes and focus on the hope that lies ahead.
So that’s what I’m going for today. Hope. I am hopeful that today will be a platform for the team to build a winning run. Hey, it’s got to start somewhere, right? So why not here today? Everton have patchy home form and have been beaten by West Ham, Stoke, Swansea and West Brom. Of course we’ve also suffered dropped points against those teams too, but it shows that they aren’t unbeatable. In fact, if we can neutralise the threat of Lukaku, then we’ll go a long way to stopping them completely. He’s the guy with which most of their goals are coming from at the moment and with six goals in the last six games, he’s sure to get a chance and probably a goal today. Which means we’ll have to score at least two I think. That puts a bit of pressure on our strikers, who have all been profligate of late, but there were positive signs in Barcelona on Wednesday. We got in to positions, we just need to take our chances. Alexis and (hopefully) Welbeck will want to finish more chances and with Everton’s approach to defence feeling very similar to Arsenal’s – in that there isn’t really much discipline and structure at times and it all feels a bit haphazard – there will be chances created.
Everton will want to come out of the blocks quickly. On their own patch and with the home fans sure to be in fine voice knowing a date at Wembley lies ahead, Everton will smell blood with our recent form and knowing that when this Arsenal team goes behind it can look a little lost, I think we just need to keep the Toffees quiet for the first ten minutes and then see if we can impose on the game. Everton will sit Besic and McCarthy in front of jagielka and Funes Mori and they will look to use the attacking full backs of Coleman and Baines to drive forward and overlap with Lennon and Cleverley, leaving the centre of the pitch for Barkley and Lukaku to express themselves. That means that we need our full backs to be on top form today, which is the one area of the Arsenal team that has been the most consistent all season, so I’d hope that Bellerin and Monreal can continue to play as well as they have done. But if there are those overlaps, then they’ll need our defensive midfielders to cover ground for them. Elneny and Coquelin will start and they’ll need to cover a lot of ground. Le Coq will have hopefully have learned a lesson from his red card against the Spuds and so I’m hoping for a disciplined performance, but it is Elneny that I am hoping to see have another good game. He seems to be able to keep us ticking over in the same way Arteta used to do and if he can provide a good outlet for Coquelin to distribute the ball too, perhaps we’ll see an Arsenal team who look like they can control a game a bit more than we have done since the start of 2016.
Arsenal need goals. It’s as simple as that. Ozil, Welbeck, Giroud, Iwobi, Alexis, Campbell; it doesn’t matter which of those four start, we need to see them weigh in and do so now. This is pretty much it now. We’re standing at the precipice in terms of our Premier League title aspirations. We’ve used up any buffers we might have built up and now only flawless results stand us any chance. however unlikely, it is still a possibility and as a result, it would be remiss of any Arsenal fan not to go into this game with as much hope as they can scrape together. After that, it’s down to how much the players want it. Do they want it? Their lives have been made simpler now. It’s Premier League or bust, folks, so if you want it, you need to show the urgency that we seem to have in the last five or ten minutes in a game when we’re behind from the opening exchanges of the game. We need movement, we need fluidity and we need to not give up.
Come on Arsenal!
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