On Saturday morning I was uber positive about Arsenal getting the result and all three points against Sheffield United at home. I thought that despite injuries, suspensions and recent misfortune on VAR, we’d manage to grab ourselves some precious points on our own turf.

Unfortunately I hadn’t bargained on the fact that the footballing gods really hate us this season and are doing as much as they can to ensure we get absolutely no ‘rub of the green’ at all. Which explains the clear VAR penalty miss and also the deflected goal we conceded.

For the second week in a row.

So for tonight’s game away to Chelski I have already accepted our fate. We are screwed.

We’re screwed because we’ve got a massive injury list which is prohibiting Arteta from playing the strength of team a new manager needs when he joins the club. We’re missing Tierney, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Sokratis (I’ve heard he’s still ill), Chambers, possibly Holding, Nelson and Aubameyang. That’s eight players taken away from Arteta and if you ask any manager in the league how they’d cope without eight of their first team squad, I don’t think you’d have many saying “yeah, it’ll be fine”.

We’re also screwed because of the footballing gods. In the reverse fixture we saw the most obvious of second yellows avoided and Chelski managed to skank us at the death having been kept at arms length by a hard working Arsenal team. We faded in the second half but the energy and intensity was impressive for 60 minutes, before two silly goals cost us. Chelski will be happy in the knowledge that right now we don’t seem to be a 90 minute team and that’s why I’m also not holding out much hope.

We’re away to a team that will most likely get top four and sadly whilst we’re decimated with injuries, Chelski have just Pulisic and Loftus-Cheek absent, with the scumbag Alonso likely to make it back and be available tonight. So they’ll have a more fuller complete of players and Lampard has an array of choices in front of him.

Our away record at Stamford Bridge doesn’t really make for great reading either. We haven’t won since 2011 and that was the 5-3 craziness in which van Persie and Walcott bagged goals to give us the win. That’s eight years of defeats or the odd draw and the odds are stacked against us.

It’s why, for me, tonight is a free hit really. Everything is stacked against us tonight and the likelihood is we’re losing. But this season is finished from the Premier League perspective and that means we have the best part of eight months for Arteta to prepare his charges for the 2020/21 season. A win tonight would be great for confidence but ultimately it will most likely mean nothing so for me that’s the very definition of a free hit.

So what I want to see is more positive signs that these players are buying in to Arteta’s philosophy, that we can defend like a normal Premier League team away from home and not concede a billion chances, as well as more improvement from certain players.

I think Martinelli has to start after his goal at the weekend and I think the team will be unchanged, so therefore look something like this:

It’s the best we can muster right now and I’ll be happy with a good team performance, energy, effort and approximately:

  • 0 x deflected goals against us
  • 0 x questionable VAR decisions
  • 0 x silly individual mistakes (think Leno in the reverse fixture)
  • 0 x new injuries – I think we’re banjaxed enough right now.
  • A goal for Lacazette would be handy. We need something to go for him but he’s got to get into those positions to score and for that he needs some proper service. Özil was pretty average against both Palace and Sheffield United and we can’t afford to have a player like that deliver practically nothing for his wages. He has to step up because his time feels like it’s running out. Arteta is playing him through lack of other options but you have to feel that there’s only a matter of time before his patience begins to wear thin.
  • For him to be successful he’ll need to find that space in between midfield and defensive lines and certainly Lampard will have realised the spaces that we got in the first half against them contributed towards such a poor first half from Chelski. I can’t see that happening tonight so I’m expecting Jorginho to start and for Kante to cover that space in between midfield and defence for that scummy lot.
  • It would be nice to bag three points tonight and a draw wouldn’t be too bad either, but I’m not exactly overcome with excitement over the game tonight, that’s for sure. Whilst I wouldn’t say I’m the complete opposite in feelings from the weekend, i.e. that I am convinced we’re going to lose, I don’t think I’m far off it. For all of the reasons outlined above.

    Hey, perhaps I can be proved wrong though, eh? Would be nice.

    Catch you all tomorrow.