My constant and probably quite random outbursts of 'we really cannot lose this game' did not go unheard. On cup final day I along with a few Gooner friends went to watch the game at another friend of ours where we consumed plenty of beverages and food, pre match it was all going so well and the spirits were high until we of course went 2-0 down, nearly 3 but for a Gibbs clearance off the line. It was that point where I received a phone call from Mrs Lean telling me to try and refrain from passing on my football stresses to Lean junior in future. He had moved into the kitchen to get away from his younger sister who was winding him up and obviously didn't understand the seriousness of the situation. By gee it was serious. Sitting on his own upset at what he had seen on TV. 'This is a match Arsenal have to win' he told his mother desperately trying to fight back the tears
Santi Cazorla has got to miss this one, his little legs have worked very hard this season. When his passing range is off then you know Santi isn't mentally or physically at his best. Alexis might need dropping out but Arsène rarely opts to sit him out. One suspects that if the doctors give the oxygen in his bloody the all clear and there are no physical knocks to worry about then he is patted on the bum and sent out for some more non stop chasing around for 90 minutes
I fully expect the pattern of the game to be very similar to our recent home game against Swansea City. But it will be down to us to open them up and score the first goal. Against Swansea we started the game far too slowly, our passing was laboured and there was not enough movement to shift them out of position. Quite possibly it was our most boring half of the season so far. Had we started the first half
But I guess that fixture will be forgotten about if we can secure 3rd and win the FA Cup once more. So it is important we can keep the confidence we have had in recent weeks and ignore what was by all accounts a blip in a pretty impressive second half of the season. Danny Welbeck has lost his fitness race to be involved against his old club so I expect the team to remain the same. Arsene was asked about rotation and he said all his players would be needed in the run in but I don't see changes happening in what is a pretty big game, it is more than likely that we will make changes in midweek against Sunderland. At least that would make sense to me given the gap between the Swansea game until now.
The squad is pretty much the same from last week's match but Aaron Ramsey is a doubt after taking a whack to his ankle. Initially it looked quite bad and also pretty painful but having just watched the match again for the 3rd time Ramsey didn't look very restricted in his movement in the second half and when he was replaced by Jack Wilshere after 60 minutes, he trotted off the pitch without any obvious problems, or so it seemed from where I was watching. I wouldn't actually be surprised to see Ramsey fully fit and raring to go and his name on the team sheet when the line ups are handed out
Needless to say though, if we find our best form then we will have too much for Hull. The slight concern is that in our last two games we've dropped off a little. In our last three games we've only scored 3 goals and two of those were against a Championship side. That being said, I thought we looked pretty sharp against Chelsea in the first half even if we were not able to find a way through. At this stage it doesn't seem as if we will see a great deal of changes, the run in is all about momentum and stability but I wonder if Arsène will continue to use Aaron Ramsey wide on the right. I thought he performed pretty well against Chelsea, he just did not provide us with the outlet that a more natural wide player would. But once more you'd have to drop a player who is in good form and important to the team. I just don't see that happening right about now.
And of course there is Jose Mourinho, the most arrogant; self important; crass and hypocritical man in the game today. All the talk is of Wenger's record against Mourinho and yes I would say that Arsene will need to look inwards to a point. We have more often than not fallen straight into his trap of being sucked in and then counter attacked after leaving ourselves exposed. A more pragmatic approach may have been more desirable on many occasions but let's not pretend that his team were playing against the invincibles twice a season. Mourinho came to Chelsea in 2005, a year that coincided with Arsenal chopping off our aging high earners and replacing them with cheap young players as the Emirates era began. Meanwhile Mourinho was regularly breaking transfer records, often overpaying to get the exact players he wanted. Even buying players just to prevent them from joining a rival
- Reading (n) Thoughts & Line Up: Winning will be a consequence of commitment
- Burnley (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Midfield could give Arsene a happy headache
- Liverpool (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Form suggests Arsenal win but Pool will have other ideas
- Newcastle United (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Arsenal must punish injury struck Geordies
- Monaco (a) Thoughts & Line Up: The bench needed for improbable mission
- West Ham (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Will Theo Walcott get his chance today?
- Manchester United (a) Moment of truth / Ramsey or Ox/Welbeck?