Morning folks. This is my first blog for weeks. I took some time away and decided that Arsenal was causing me too much discomfort and so I avoided watching a few matches, checked scores at the end, that sort of thing.
But I couldn’t completely stay away and watched the Southampton game in full and, having done so, you’d have thought that I’d probably avoid blogging for a little while longer because we were shocking in the first half, then picked up for 10 minutes in the second before another stupid red card effectively set the narrative for the game. So hardly enough there for any of us to feel particularly enthusiastic about tonight’s game away to Everton at Goodison Park.
But do you know what? I think we’re going to win tonight.
I have no idea why I feel like that and if you are a regular reader of this blog over the year’s you’ll know I am more self-preservation than bold predictor, usually feeling a little worried ahead of each game. I don’t have the same worry today. This feeling rarely happens to me. Perhaps I will be feeling very nervous later, perhaps my feelings are misplaced and we will get battered by a very good Everton side who have just come off the back of another win, but I just have this weird sensation that we’re going to be alright tonight.
I am sending positive vibes to the team and I believe they will show up.
I also think that we’ll see a few new faces again too. Apparently Gabriel Martinelli didn’t play for the under-23s yesterday. Reiss Nelson is also back fit, so Arteta has some attacking options to call from on the bench too. I just hope he gets a couple of those guys on the bench because we need them. None of us want to see Mustafi, Kolasinac et al on the sidelines taking up an extra space on the bench when we have the chance to give ourselves something different in the second half. We want to see the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Martinelli, all there to call on if we need them. And I think we might need them at some stage.
I suspect Bellerin will come back in to the team tonight, but whether Arteta changes anything else, I’m not so sure. He’ll have to go with Luiz given that Gabriel is suspended, but does he change the midfield? Elneny and Ceballos left acres in the middle of the park against Southampton and we were cut through so easily, so my hope is that Arteta changes it up a bit. Let’s have some legs in the middle of the park by giving Maitland-Niles a run out in the middle. Maybe alongside one of Ceballos and Elneny. It can’t be any worse, right?
I’d stick with Auba wide left and Saka in the midfield three naturally gravitating towards him, but who assumes the central striking role? Does Lacazette come back in? Did Eddie really do enough to suggest he deserves a start? I’m not so sure, but Lacazette has had a stinker all season. But perhaps if there is the admission from Arteta that he can’t play behind the main striker as a ten, then he might revert him back to the central striker position.
I also hope he persists with Pepe too. He didn’t have the greatest of games in midweek but he still got in to some good goalscoring positions and when he drifts centrally he can be a threat for us. I think he needs a run of games now for us to see if we can unleash what we all hope is the Pepe that we want to see. The Ivorian has scored goals for us this season, he got a great one against Sheffield United and if we give him opportunities then he will at least test Everton’s defence.
So yeah, I’m feeling weirdly confident, for no reason whatsoever. I have hope that Aubameyang’s drought has ended and if we can find him in the right positions then he will take the opportunities. But we have to find him. And we have to be quicker with moving the ball. Back to front as quickly as possible. No slow build up, no players taking multiple touches, just get it and give it. Release. Bang! That’s what we need.
Everton will have their tails up. They will be expected to win this and they’ll have some fans in the stadium as they are Tier two. Most pundits expect Arsenal to lose this and that’s fine with me. I think we’ll get a response and the one we want.
Of course, that is provided we don’t:
- Do something stupid inside our own penalty box.
- Get somebody sent off.
- Pick up another injury to a key player.
It feels like every game this season has come with some form of trauma to the team. Last two games it was a sending off. The game against the Scum was an injury to Partey. Before that it was a guilt edged chance missed by Auba. Before that it was the Pepe sending off against Leeds. Then we had the Leicester game in which we had a perfectly good goal ruled out by VAR. Lots of things have gone against us in the last few months. That can’t keep happening every week. I don’t think it will tonight. We keep 11 on the pitch and we don’t do anything stupid like give away a penalty and we’ll be alright.
Back tomorrow with some post match thoughts.
Laters peeps. Think positive. Be positive. We got this.