Yo peeps, y’all super psyched for another match day? Like London buses, eh? You wait ages for one and then a second rocks up. And with possibly the only up side of this particular period of our football supporting lives, those of us who are in the UK will actually get to WATCH a 3pm game on TV. What a time to be alive.
Of course those of you lucky devils who happen to live outside of the UK know this feeling all the time, but for me and those of us based in the UK it’s a new experience and one I’m kind of looking forward to. Of course this could all change very rapidly if we get another insipid performance from Arsenal like we’ve seen so many times this season.
What isn’t in Mikel Arteta’s favour is that we seem to be the only club cursed with a glut of absentees already. Torreira is three weeks away, Chamber sis out, Sokratis is a couple weeks, as is Soares and with Luiz suspended, Rob Holding might be called on despite being a fair old way down the pecking order. It all feels a bit of a mess at the back and that pretty much sums Arsenal up defensively over the last few years.
I also wonder just how able Bellerin and Tierney are to play today, given that both played on Wednesday and both played the whole game. They were both returnees from injuries and whilst everyone is starting off at the same fitness levels, Arteta has a serious decision to make over whether both should start today. Personally I’d be wary and so I’m wondering if we see Kolasinac at left back today, with the right side maybe even being taken up by Maitland-Niles. After all, Arteta has been positive about him over the last 24 hours and so I wonder if he’s built him up a little so he can include him from the start today. We shall see.
The midfield also worries me too. No Xhaka through injury, Guendouzi is all over the place and Willock was anonymous on Wednesday night. Ceballos is a bit of a loose cannon and has hardly hit the heights we have been expecting and with him potentially out of the door if no new contract extension has been put on the table until the end of the season, it remains to be seen whether it is even worth including him if he’s got one eye on a return to Spain.
I think he’ll play today though, simply because of the paucity of options for the manager. He’s a more creative outlet and I think better to show for the ball than Guendouzi and so I’d be surprised if Ceballos isn’t in from the start. What it does serve to highlight is just how much surgery this team is going to need when this joke of a restart is over and done with. Arteta knows that and has even said it over the last couple of days, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to get the funds he wants, and he probably knows that too.
But that’s worries for another day. I wonder if Mesut will return? There are rumours of it that i’ve seen today and it wouldn’t surprise me to at least see him in the 20 man squad. This is the type of game where his ability could be useful, but we’ve seen that in only rare glimpses for the last 18 months; I can only hope that today we might get that glimpse at some stage – even if only from the bench.
Then we have questions over the front line. I’d certainly be hoping to see Pepe today and perhaps even Martinelli might be a good shout. He has made an impact almost every time he’s played and right now we need impact players like the Brazilian. I’d still be tempted at him wide left, Pepe right, with Auba through the centre, but I think Lacazette gets the nod today and I therefore think it’ll be Auba wide left. It’s not the right play from my perspective, but we just have to accept that Arteta seems really reluctant to use him through the middle for some reason.
Brighton already have a win against us at The Emirates and yesterday I looked at the head-to-head to see that since they’ve returned to the Premier League we haven’t actually beaten them yet! We’ve had two defeats – away last season and at home this, as well as two draws – away and home too. That’s mad because every time I’ve watched them I think i’ve tweeted that they haven’t exactly been sparkling. But they seem to have the indian sign over us since returning to the Premier League so my hope is that today we can quash that.
The lack of fans in the ground should hopefully play a part in that. There will be no fervent atmosphere to impact the players, or the referee, although given that we’ve already seen Antony Taylor screw us over a couple of times on Wednesday (Garcia’s foul on Nketiah might have been a red in my opinion, but didn’t even get a foul, as well as that nasty challenge from Sterling which could have done damage to Mustafi), I’m not holding out much hope from Martin Atkinson today. I’m fully expecting more sh*ite decisions like the one not to award a goal for Sokratis against Palace that would have secured us three points at the Emirates.
But if we’re relying on refereeing decisions then it means the game is close and I would really love to see a game which isn’t close today. I’d love us to stamp our authority on a game for a change. Brighton will try to replicate their form from the Emirates, but they aren’t a high-scoring team. Don’t let’s think for a second that our car crash of a defence won’t give them opportunities though. Potter likes Brighton to be more of a pressing side and that’s what I think we’ll see from them today. They’ll try to force the errors from our back line but if we can break their press, we might find there is space and grass to run in to. That’s where picking the right pass – like when Auba is making those runs, will be important if we’re going to win.
I’m hopeful for a win today but as always with this season’s Arsenal, I’m certainly not expectant. Whatever happens it’ll be tight, because we’re just not good enough to put teams like this to the sword, but I can live in hope.
Let’s see what happens come 5pm.