That was a pleasant and drama free passage to the fifth round of the FA Cup, just what we needed really. Not quite the 9-0 pasting that we hoped for after the Spurs defeat but, never mind, we’ll save that backlash for the next time we play Tottenham. Now to the second of our double header against the barcodes, this time in the league. We need to win, and win well. Make up the six goal gap in the goal difference and go back top. We’re second by the exact amount of goals that Newcastle shipped in at Old Trafford. Cheers for that. United have Portsmouth, Spurs and Manchester City as their next three games. Certainly potential for dropped points there, and we need to make sure that we put the pressure on by going top on Tuesday. By three points ideally. Although our next two matches after this are Man City away and Blackburn at home. Not exactly a guaranteed six points, but certainly games we should be looking to win in our current form. Current form minus the aberration last week, of course.
The barcode back four certainly won’t be looking forward to another ninety minutes against Adebayor. In the last twelve games he’s played a part in, he’s scored eleven goals. Including six in our last four matches. He really does continue to surprise everyone. Not only that, but he’s now actually starting to connect with the ball properly when he shoots, which was unheard of before the last couple of weeks. The goal against Spurs and the first against Newcastle on Saturday, were both shots that we’re used to seeing go out for a throw in when they’ve come from Ade’s boot. But now they’re sailing into the net with power and accuracy. If he makes a habit of that, as well as his new found heading prowess, then we’re looking at a very, very dangerous forward. Or, this could just be the usual salivating over him when he scores in a few games in a row, then calling him the worst forward to ever don the Arsenal shirt when he goes a few games without. But, his game is still improving, he is still getting better and he is still scoring goals. Fifteen league goals so far, and if he continues this rate to the end of the season, he’ll end up with around twenty five league goals. That used to be considered a good return for Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy. As Eduardo gets better at the English game and we see his clinical finishing more often, and van Persie, one day, in the distant future, gets himself injury free, we’ll have quite the potent attack force.
van Persie, Denilson, Djourou and Rosicky injured. With Rosicky’s inevitable two to three week layoff, either Walcott or Diaby will play. Although apparently the injury is nothing serious, that doesn’t normally stop it being a two to three week absence. Diaby probably caused Newcastle more problems on Saturday, so I think Diaby on the left and Hleb on the right is likely. While Diaby drifts inside far too often, it allows room for Clichy to bomb forward and do some damage, while Abou shores up the centre of midfield and tries to shoot from every angle around the box. He’s got to score another Derby-esque goal soon. The side will be strengthened by Sagna, Hleb and Eduardo starting, and Almunia will be back in goal. Van Persie is back in training, but we won’t see him for a couple of weeks at the earliest. Although, going by this season so far, he’ll start in a game that is a week early, and he’ll be re-injured for two months.
Subs: Lehmann, Hoyte, Gilberto, Walcott, Bendtner.
It’s fairly likely Keegan will give the eleven that started on Saturday another shot at glory, as Emre is still suspended, although Viduka will probably start. There could be a drop of rotation with maybe Rozenhal starting, but that’s about it really. Barton’s bail conditions have been changed, but reading Keegan’s comments ahead of this game I suspect he’ll be on the bench if he’s involved in the squad.