The life of an Arsenal fan is a life which is lived on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s like being in the Grand old Duke of York’s army; when we’re up we’re up, then when we’re down we’re really down. 

On Wednesday morning, having been ‘up’ since Sunday, we were promptly marched down, which given to calibre of opponent this lunchtime, isn’t exactly what we wanted. Chelski are a horrific club, but this season they are a formidable opponent and buoyed by a manager who knows how to set his team up, players who have a clear understanding of their role in a system as well as home advantage, it’s a brave man who would bet his life savings on an Arsenal win today. 

I always have a little look at the so-called ‘expert pundits’ who make predictions across all of the various news and media outlets and it’s fair to say that it hardly makes for great reading as an Arsenal fan. Even Merse says “I can’t make a case for Arsenal” and after that dismal display against Watford, you can kind of see why. Then when you look at the numbers behind this fixture it also makes for uneasy reading. I haven’t even got to the dearth of midfield options today.

But hey, shall I try for some optimism, in the wake of the overwhelming odds against us? Well, the last time Watford beat us in the league at home was 1988, so if they can beat us then any things possible, right??? 

I’m trying to be positive guys, I really am, but Tuesday night really knocked the stuffing out of me and if I’m honest I’ll probably be watching this game from behind my sofa with my hands over my eyes and just a wee crack between my fingers making it available to view the game. I just look at the efficiency of Chelski and it scares me. I’ve got a mate at work who’s a Chelski season ticket holder and he tells me they haven’t been great all season, but they’ve been getting results, so I’m expecting the same today. Sadly.

I’m expecting the same today because I don’t think Arsène will play a side that can counter their weaknesses. The manager is a stubborn man and I think he’ll go with Giroud up top and Alexis right with Theo left. For me that’s not enough pace and Giroud will spend the game being comfortably marshalled by Cahill and Luiz. Hopefully I’m wrong. Ollie G has been great for us at times this season, but he’s not the man for a game like this. A pacey front three that can rotate are. A couple of wide players who can pin back their wing backs are. But I fear that we will see the same team as Tuesday night, in a bid for Arsène to tell the players to redeem themselves. Personally I don’t think some of them should get the chance. I’d play Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi and Bellerin, I’d give Gibbs a shot though. I’d also have Coquelin and the Ox in the middle, by virtue of the fact that they seem to be the only first team midfielders available more than anything else. Özil needs a big game and I’d be telling him that. He’s been in and out in the last couple of months and any hope of a result today has to include him picking those pockets of space with which to do damage. If he’s quiet, we’re almost certainly doomed to defeat, because quite frankly every single player needs to show up today.

The chips are stacked against this Arsenal team, we don’t know how they’ll respond to the disappointment in midweek, we’re just hoping for a reaction. But Arsène Wenger sides always seem to take a while to get going after a setback, so a fixture like this really does feel like it’s a bit more black and white. A win would mean so much and bring so much more hope. A draw probably means we’re still too far away from Chelski to catch them, but at least it’s a stay of execution in terms of our title bid. A defeat and it’s all over. A defeat means another race to stay in the top four and another groundhog season for all of us. Right now I don’t really want to contemplate that. But it’s very real I’m afraid folks.

Let’s hope – no, pray – that we’re not talking about the worst of Arsenal tomorrow.