It seems only yesterday that we were revelling in our home comforts of beating United, yet here we are with another press conference, ahead of another ‘cannot lose’ match. Oh wait a second, it was yesterday that I was revelling, because we seemed to have consortina’d our end of season in to one short, sharp, period of time. Still, at least it’ll feel a little less dragged out than it has for the last month, which is always nice.
Arsène gives his press conference and team news this morning and I have a feeling that rotation will be the order of the day. The troubl we have though is that Southampton away is hardly the sort of game that you want to be able to rest some players for others, is it? After all, we have a pretty poor record there in the league since they re-established themselves as a Premier League outfit. A few draws, a few losses and more than anything else, a lot of quite poor performances from the Arsenal players.
That’s why it’s hardly the type of game that you want mass-scale rotation, although I suspect Arsène will admit he has little choice, given that the players played on Sunday and play again tonight. What would have been ideal would have been Sunderland at home – who we play next week – followed by the orcs at the weekend but hey, you can’t bemoan the hand you’re dealt, you just have to find a way of using it to win.
So I expect Arsène to talk up the quality of other players who haven’t played much in this new formation. Players like Bellerin at right wing back, or Monreal restored to left wing back with the possibility of Mustafi returning. Perhaps we’ll see Elneny given a run out and maybe there’s even room for Iwobi. I’d expect Arsène to be cautious with injury prone players like the Ox, Ramsey and Welbeck, but we won’t really get an indication of the team until tomorrow, just who’s fit and available today. I’d like to think that Big Per might get a showing because I think in a back three he could be a very important player, but with this being a point in the season with no margin for error, I can’t see Arsène talking up the BFG as an option, not with little match fitness to speak of.
I suspect the questions will also be around his future, which he will bat away; Alexis & Özil’s future, which he will bat away; as well as the outside possibility of Arsenal finishing in the top four, which he will inevitably talk up. I appreciate he pretty much has to do that, but personally I’m keeping my ‘reality check’ hat on because in order for us to even have a hope of the top four we have to do something I don’t think we’ve done in a Premier League season, which is to win away at both Southampton and Stoke. Even if that happens somehow, we’ll need the West Ham players not to be on the beach against Liverpool this coming weekend and whilst we were all pleasently surprised that they got up for the Spurs game, it’s probably too much to ask that they are up for the Liverpool one. They hate the Tiny Totts as much as we do, so you could see why they would raise their game against that lot last weekend, but Liverpool don’t really hold any grudges for them, so I’m expecting them to roll over and have their bellies tickled if I’m honest. So whilst a win tonight may keep the flickering flame of hope alive, it will probably find itself getting a snuffing, coming the weekend.
Still, at least there’s some hope, because after the Totts debacle it seemed like there was little. It’s better to have that extended until the weekend before the Premier League finishes than have to endure two months of knowing that you aren’t at least in the hunt for something. Anything, even. And yes, even Champions League football is something.
The only other news of note that I’ve read about is via Arseblog this morning, as it seems Szczesny looks set to return this summer, which is interesting and might be good timing. I’d certainly be in favour of him returning and not just because it took me a season to spell his name right last time he was at the club and now I’ve mastered it, but mainly because he’s turned in to a very good ‘keeper it seems. Cech is 35 going on 36, he’s seen his star dwindle somewhat this season, which is perhaps the natural consequence of his age. Next season if Szczesny really has improved dramatically, it’s not unfeasible to believe he could start as number one with Cech as the cup ‘keeper, with Wojciech taking the domestic league duties. It would be quite a return for a player who’s Arsenal career looked dead and buried after the Southampton ciggie incident a few years back. But I guess as Coquelin has proven there is always a route back if the environment and circumstances dictate, so perhaps we’ll see a return of the Polish ‘keeper and perhaps that will even make us stronger come the end of the summer transfer window. We shall see.
Righty-o, off I go, to the wonderful world of work.