So, here’s the thing:
It’s match day. I can’t go because I have to go to a wedding. And it’s a Spurs fan who is getting married. This is the sort of heresy that one wouldn’t normally share with a fellow Gooner as yourself, so let me tumble down the rabbit hole a little further, because I actually like this particular Spurs fan. I’m even doing a reading at the wedding. He is my cousin though, in my defence, but I guess that probably shouldn’t prevent me from sabotaging something. I probably won’t though. Like I said – I do like him.
What I don’t like, is when places don’t have wifi, because they’re in the middle of nowhere. I spoke to my cousin yesterday and the warning signs were set when he said “hang on a second, I’m in the Barn at the moment, receptions rubbish out here”. I mean really, what sort of world do we live in when barns can’t even get 3G.
So it’s all up in the air as to whether I’ll actually get to watch the game. It’s even up in the air as to whether Match of the Day will be an option, because of the whole ‘no signal’ thing, which is really rather vexing.
People scheduling weddings during the football season, eh? What’s up with that?
Hopefully the players will turn up today against Middlesbrough. I would expect them to. They’ve certainly been showing enough form this season so far to suggest they will, but I’ve been burnt by Middlesbrough before, you see. It was the first game of the season when Dennis had just signed for us. I remember saying to pals that he’d have a field day against the newly promoted Middlesbrough.
We drew 1-1.
So you see, I’m certainly not taking today’s game as a forgone conclusion, because I know there’s always a kick in the knickers waiting around the corner with The Arsenal. I just hope that kick can stay around the corner for a few months. Maybe like, I don’t know, seven months or something? Or even eight, just to be sure.
Arsène delivered his press conference yesterday and as expected, the only real doubt we have today is Santi, who took at knock in the game against Ludogorets. If he passes his fitness test, I’d expect a side that resembled the Swansea team, with Coquelin replacing Xhaka in midfield. If Le Coq has another game like he did in midweek though, we have nothing to fear, because it looks like he’s embracing the extra competition provided in midfield by the Swiss’ arrival. Good that’s what we all want. Players fighting for their positions.
The rest of the team will probably revert back to the side that played last Saturday and if that is the case, I’m hoping we can have the same attacking performance, without the defensive jitters. I’m not a fan of said jitters. They don’t sit well with me, so if the team can just get themselves a couple of goals up without reply by half time, that would really mitigate the fact I can’t play my part in the whole affair in North London.
I’d like to see slightly improved performances from Monreal and Iwobi today. Iwobi had some good patches last Saturday, but I felt he gave the ball away a little too much. His lack of defensive cover has been well documented, but that has been overlooked because he’s looked so exciting going forward, although I felt last week he looked a bit ropey in that department too. Perhaps you think me harsh, but he’s such a joy to watch, I want him to just keep getting better. We’ve had too many recent examples of players starting their Arsenal career well but tailing off. I don’t think that will happen with Alex, but he’s got to keep improving bit by bit, to realise his potential. Which is huge.
As for our opponents today, Arsène suggested that they might come and try to play football today, but I don’t think Karanka is that silly enough to try to go toe-to-toe with Arsenal, so I’m expecting a frustrating game. I think Boro will look to be compact, but in Negredo they don’t have a rapid centre forward, so I’m not sure they’ll look to hit us on the counter. Instead, I think they’ll be looking to get good set piece delivery from players like Downing or Ramires, which means concentration is needed by our back line to avoid giving away silly dead-ball situations.
As for us, I think our tales are up at the moment, so I expect us to pop the ball around nicely and to dominate possession. Patience might be a virtue today, but if we get an early goal, I’d love to see us properly go for the jugular.
Right, I’m off to get my hair cut, polish my shoes and pray to the gods that they have Wifi in deepest, darkest, Essex, later.