Well here we go folks. It’s the countdown to the North London Derby and that will start with a press conference from Unai Emery at some stage today no doubt.
Mercifully at least we have a bit of form going in to this one. I know “it all goes out the window” for the NLDs and my own personal pessimism surrounding this game won’t allow me to think we’re getting anything from a trip to Wembley, but at least on paper we’re in a better shape than a month ago, whilst those pesky Tiny Totts have suffered somewhat of a blip.
I’d rather go into the game with players like Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Özil et al all in a bit of form and with a bit of confidence though. If we’d have been going in to the game off the back of two turgid performances then it’d only add to the pessimism so I’m pleased that at least we’ve done the job on the last two games and done it well.
Hopefully Unai gives us that insight when he talks to the press today too. It’d be nice to have him say that the training ground is a happy place at the moment. I know he could say that even if it wasn’t but after the two very good performances of the last week it’s a little more believable.
Who he picks will also be interesting and that’s a blog musing or two for tomorrow but already the speculation is building around players like Özil, with Lee Dixon chipping in, in an article in the Standard today, which he talks up how Özil has no future if he doesn’t start tomorrow. I think Lee’s right but let’s be honest, we all know Özil has no future beyond this season as it is. The club want him out because of the wages he’s on and Emery is simply the harbinger of Özil’s doom from an Arsenal career perspective. He’s the man delivering the bad news but when the people at the top want him gone there’s probably little Özil can do.
But for now I think we can all agree that there’s a temporary armistice that can be reached until the summer and Özil can have an impact. And regardless of the result tomorrow the United game feels massive because if we can win that – or even get a draw – we have a run of games that you’d class as more ‘favourable’ than the other teams. Fingers crossed we can at least be within one point of United come Monday 11th March because if we are I think we’ve got a massive chance of qualifying for the top four.
It’s nice to be going in to the last ten games – regardless of what happens tomorrow – with something still left to play with. Last season was terrible and we are – points wise at least – way better off than we were last year so we can be thankful of that at least. Whilst there’s been plenty of concerns about Emery, the fact we’re still in the hunt and I still have those nerves ahead of games can be put down as a good thing.
Righto, I’m offski, so I’ll see you tomorrow with the usual nervy North London Derby match preview.