Lots of things to get through from yesterday’s press conference, so there’s some ‘cracking on’ to be had, I feel.
First and foremost, the team news, which sees Koscielny as rated as 60% to play on Sunday. I’ll be honest and say I like those odds, because we need Laurent to be available to hold our back three together. Holding and Gabriel have played well in the past two games that they’ve featured but the team could do without that disruption of losing one of the back line just as they are all building up a partnership with each other. So a rating of more than 50% suggests to me that Koscielny should be available.
The Ox also returns and after his last couple of wing back performances you have to say that’s a good thing. There’s been some positive rumours this week and much like Victor Moses and his difficulty in nailing down a position before this season, it would be great if the Ox has found his, in a similar situation to Moses.
Arsène was asked about what type of Derby he expected and unsurprisingly he spoke of an open one. Personally though, I’m not sure that it will be, you know. I only say that because I think we’ll set up in a similar way to the City semi final. I think we’ll look to contain, to frustrate the Totts and then build in the second half. Tottenham also have a better defence than us and I expect them to be giving nothing away, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cagey affair tomorrow. Arsène might talk of going forward but he always does. Often it’s the opening exchanges of the games which dictate the pattern of play and I’m reminded of the City game a couple of seasons ago. I don’t think we set ourselves up to be hard to break down, it just happened that way, but this new formation does seem to enable us to put more bodies behind the ball and naturally you’d expect a bit of ‘backs to the wall’ at times. Especially when you’re playing the best teams in the country.
But make no bones about it, this will be a hard game and any talk from the media about the Spuds potentially cracking isn’t really something I think we can believe will happen. Arsène played his usual ‘we only focus on ourselves’ card, but to me it does feel a bit as though we need The Totts to sh*t the bed a bit, because we’re still not firing on all cylinders and they’ve been getting better and better all season.
Let’s just hope the players do themselves justice tomorrow. Players like Holding, who seems to grow game by game and someone who Arsène singled out for praise yesterday for his self analysis. I know we’ve been here before with Chambers and Jenkinson, but Holding really does look like the real deal, doesn’t he? He’s so composed for such a young age and what we need to do is to make sure he’s managed well enough. Give him game time, but don’t overplay him; let him learn on and off the pitch; and don’t become so reliant on him. He’s one cog in a defensive machine that needs to function better than it has at times this season. But he’s looking like we’ve found a pretty decent cog.
There was also some stuff away from the presser about Mbappe that Bobby Pires has said, but to be honest I can’t bring myself to believe something so wonderful, I’m afraid. He’s an Arsenal type player for sure, but the whole world knows about him and he’ll probably cost north of £70million and we all know that Arsène wouldn’t go anywhere near that. He’s balking at paying Alexis the market rate by the sounds of it, so I can’t see that transfer happening.
Right, I’m off for the day, so have a good one!