Another blasted week game means I have to miss the second half of the game until I return from work, at least the matches return to the weekend after this one.
So what to expect tonight? Our opponents Sunderland need a point to secure their Premier League safety while a point for us will lift us out of the reach of a drunken Louis van Gaal. While a point would be enough for us, there is little doubt that we will want to get the win and preferably accompanied with a good performance, but Sunderland are not going to roll out the red carpet and let us do as we please especially when a point is so important to them. With their next fixture being Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, it is not as if they have a nice easy match to fall back on.
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 as we had the second then I'm convinced that we would have won the game, that said we had more than enough chances to have won in that second half but our finishing badly let us down.
The team selection will be interesting today. I can't imagine that we will start the same team for the 7th game in a row as a few players looked short of their best and perhaps stepping out of the side is a good idea before the FA Cup final.
Santi Cazorla is one such player that I wouldn't be surprised to see have a breather, he was a shadow of his usual self at Old Trafford but that said this will be a very different game, one where I expect a player in his position to have a lot more of the ball. Cazorla was one of our best players at Hull City a few weeks ago pulling the strings from deep and knitting the team together but with Jack Wilshere impressing from the bench in at least two of our last three games I think Arsène might be willing to give him a start.
If it was down to me I would make a lot more changes than usual. We have a lot of good players on the bench, players who will be itching to show the manager their quality ahead of the big one on May 30th.
Koscielny is a doubt for today so I expect Gabriel to come in anyway, Gibbs could replace Monreal at left back while Walcott and Wilshere could also come into the side.
It would be a risk to our fluidity but I think recharging batteries is possibly more important. As long as we remain switched on defensively then we have a good chance of winning the game even with 5 or so changes to the team.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Perhaps predicted line up is the incorrect title because I don't think Arsène will make so many changes to the team but I would do so, even if it means playing Jack in a slightly more unfamiliar role.
The most important thing today is to secure qualification for third and steer clear of injuries, hopefully we can get some of our attacking spark back again.