I wish I could say I am excited about the game today but that would be slightly bending the truth. I think the word I am looking for is apprehension more than anything else. This fixture is unique to any other for Arsenal and I suspect perhaps even more so for our opponents today, seeing as we've been the better of the two clubs for many years now. Last season we played Tottenham three times as we had them in the FA Cup and we managed to win all three games. Not only that but we did not concede a single goal against them in just over 270 minutes. Nice.
I think it is that record that is make me feel a little anxious in a weird way. They will be fired up to get revenge and I worry about the law of averages and stuff that I probably wouldn't be concerned with if today's opponents were not Tottenham. But we are playing well and should be feeling pretty good about ourselves so that is a nice comfort blanket.
We are currently only two points above them before kick off and given that we've just won our last four league matches, it just shows that our neighbours cannot be taken lightly as they are also in good form. Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen are playing very well so we know that stopping those two will be very important if we are to come away with anything at full time.
One thing is almost certain, they will give us more problems than the champions only a few short weeks ago. I wonder if we will approach the game the same way, I think we might just do that. Per Mertesacker's words seem to indicate that type of approach.
Mertesacker said: “We need to be really focused, especially in the first 15 minutes, to keep the players and the crowd quiet, then afterwards let’s play our game and try to do it again."
Unless of course he means, keeping the crowd quiet by racing down the field in the first few minutes and smashing a shot into the top corner. That would be nice.. again! Seriously though, I think we would frustrate them if we played as compact and as defensively well as we did at City. I don't think they have a lot of goal threat if you stop the two main men. I think Coquelin will be important in this one. He is likely to be close to players like Eriksen, Dembélé and company and he'll have a big say on which midfield takes control of the game.
Alexis looks to be out of the match, even if Arsène messed around with us all at the press conference yesterday. I don't see him being risked, at least not from the start. Welbeck is back but given his absence for so long, you'd expect him to be on the bench. So Arsène has a choice on his hands. Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott are the two obvious candidates to play in wide positions, even more so given the fact that both players scored in each of their last two games. Arsène also talked Theo up yesterday so you'd think he will start. If he didn't we would be without any scoring outlet if Alexis does not make the party. So does Arsène play both Mesut and Theo away from home together in a game where his attackers will need to contribute defensively?
It's an interesting change really. Both Alexis and Welbeck like to close down the opposition and pinch the ball back high up, the same cannot really be said for Walcott and Özil. But in the transitions those two players can be match winners for us, especially if they are able to combine together after a Coquelin interception for example. Tomas Rosicky is exactly the type of player you want at White Hart Lane. A player with experience, ability to keep and use the ball well. Not only that but the desire to win the ball back, an advantage he has over his two team mates. Rosicky also scored twice in three games against them last season so you'd think he'd be quite up for this game. But I am probably wasting words as I just don't see Arsène leaving anyone out to include the Czech. We shall see, it would be a big call but a call I'd understand for sure.
Another big game for young Hector Bellerin but one I'm sure he'll take in his stride, as he has done with almost every game he has played so far. Another decision might be at left back. Monreal rightly has the shirt but today we could be up against Andros Townsend should he get the nod. A few years back when we played QPR away, Townsend caused a lot of problems for Monreal with his pace. Gibbs is the quicker of the two but the Spanish left back has been playing very well so that is another decision for the manager.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up
I can't shake the feeling that Aaron Ramsey will score today. Don't know why, maybe because he's due a goal. I also wouldn't be surprised to see us go a goal down either. We've had it pretty much our own way in recent weeks so I'd be up for another 1 nil down 2 one up even if the heart won't like it very much. In fact I don't care how it comes about even if we have to endure another 89 minutes like last season, let us grab all three points and continue our momentum. In fact beating Tottenham at their ground would give us a massive boost for the rest of the season, especially with so many options at our disposal.
Ok, nerves are kicking in now so I shall take my place behind the sofa and hope I can be back later in a good mood for the post match stuff.