The players all seem to be pretty focused, driven and confident when interviewed which is good but talk is just talk. We will see how they do on the pitch. We froze a little in the semi final and did not have the freedom to express ourselves. We are in much better shape today though and Özil and Ramsey should be totally fit and sharp. I say this pretty much before every game and I'll say so again. I'd like us to start the game aggressively with and without the ball. Closing down at speed when we do not have it and when we do, move the ball quickly and inventively.
The good news is that we have some injury doubts back in the squad. I say doubts but I am sure most if not all these players have been strategically nurtured back to fitness just in time for the final. Jack Wilshere is a case in point, he has been at London Colny for a while now away from the microphones and cameras so to us it looks like Wilshere is making a miraculous recovery just in the nick of time when in fact Arsène has been playing it safe and bringing him back slowly. Arseblog has said that Aaron Ramsey was rested last week against West Brom rather than the reported thigh niggle in the press.
Finally it is very likely that today could be the last home match for Bacary Sagna. Not entirely sure if he has a knee problem or not but he deserves a great reception and send off from the Arsenal fans. Mr dependable, Mr reliable, Mr warrior. He'll be missed if/when he leaves but at his age with two broken legs behind him it is understandable that the club are not going to pay £150k a week for
Arsenal will feel a little pressure tonight being the team to play after the weekend but I think Everton losing could apply some good pressure rather than nervous pressure. Well that is the hope at least. I will be looking at how we start the game because in these types of games our start is often a good indicator of how the game will go over the 90 minutes.
Nacho Monreal is back available for selection but I wonder if Thomas Vermaelen will continue at left back following his good performance against West Ham. He might be the ying to Lukas Podolski's yang. Vermaelen is not a natural box to box full back instead preferring to play closer to his centre back. Maybe this allows Podolski to luxury of playing in his favourite little pocket of space to the left of the penalty spot, wondering around until a ball falls his way for him to spank into the corner. The system make require tweaking but maybe that is the best way to get the best out of Lukas Podolski from now until the season end.
I think it might be roll the dice time, wherever the dice lands there will be plenty of opportunity to rage at the manager for said decision. Rest Ramsey and Chamberlain while failing to get a result could lead to fingers pointed at taking the opposition lightly. I mean 'They are professional footballers, they should be able to handle a game twice a week'
In Arsène's press conference he kept talking about how we didn't come up with the right performance at Goodison Park last weekend and that we need a proper performance to get through. It is difficult to disagree with that but what is a proper performance? What do we have to do to achieve this? I don't know but I do know what I would like to see. Some aggression both with and without the ball. I want to see us fighting hard to get the ball back when we do not have it. How many times have you seen an Arsenal team play that way against a lower placed side and lose? When we are fully up for it? Yeah I can't think of any either. I also want us to be aggressive when we are in possession. I've spoken many times about our patience in our approach being the one thing that kills us just as much as it helps us. We have to pass at a high tempo and create chances.
- Manchester City (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Come on Arsenal, surprise us
- Swansea City (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Get back to basics and back on track
- Chelsea (a) Thoughts & Line Up: 'It is the game of the season for us'
- Tottenham Hotspurs (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Let's grasp momentum and believe in title chase
- Bayern Munich (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Rolling the dice
- Stoke City (a) Thoughts & Line up: Three points the focus not distasteful sideshow
- Sunderland (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Changes on the horizon but objective remains the same