I can't have been the only one who looked at this fixture half way through the season and thought/hoped that this would be the big title decider. It's a big disappointment that the match has pretty much turned into a fight for 3rd but here we are, such is life and all that.
While clearly this fixture does not have the importance attached that we hoped, it cannot be written off as irrelevant. Arsene Wenger underlined the importance of qualifying automatically for the Champions League next season as the schedule with the European Championship does not allow much in the way of wriggle room to get summer transfer deals done.
So I didn't watch the Manchester City match against Real Madrid a few days ago but everything I have read since suggests that Manchester City produced one of the limpest performances imaginable.
It's amazing when you think about it, Manchester City were the clear favourites to win the title this season after the started the season with 5 wins on the trot. There can be no complaints about not buying a single outfield player in the window, they spent massively on Sterling, De Bruyne, Otamendi amongst others. If we have been disappointing then what on earth have City been this season?
It just goes to show that spending money is not the magic bullet that so many people assume it is. That isn't to say that investment is not important, clearly it is vital for any club who have ambitions of winning the title but I guess it explains Arsene's obvious fussiness in the market. Money can quite easily be wasted on players on long contracts if you are not careful.
So back to Arsenal, it looks as if we have almost everyone available for selection at the business end of the season eh? *chuckle*
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sustained another knee injury which rules him out of European Championship selection, sad for him. Hopefully he can put all his energies on coming back a better player for Arsenal next season. Oh yeah and Per Mertesacker is also out for the season after picking up a hamstring injury in the last game. So Gabriel has another chance to prove himself in an Arsenal shirt.
Santi Cazorla is back after coming through an under 21s game without any problems but you have to wonder whether or not he has come back too late to start a game against City or Aston Villa in the final game of the campaign. Hopefully we do get to see some minutes from him though, I've missed those little shimmying hips.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
You would imagine that this is the kind of fixture where the boss would want Francis Coquelin back in the side. His defensive display in this fixture was superb and it would make sense if his services were required once more against a team who will more than likely have a good share of the possession.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Aaron Ramsey come in for Alex Iwobi who has dropped off a little in recent weeks, not entirely his fault mind, the players around him haven't exactly set the world alight.
Danny Welbeck will surely come back into the team today, I suspect the only thing that will keep him from starting is his knee injury and I imagine that has been the reason why he has dropped out of the starting line up in recent weeks. He came off for England a few weeks back and had ice strapped against his knee, that has got to be the reason why we have seen him fleetingly, especially with our season pretty much wrapped up now.
Personally I think City are there for the taking as long as we approach the game correctly. If we are smart and organised when City have the ball and play with some aggression/urgency then I think we can repeat last seasons scoreline. We have been pretty poor in our last few games but those were games where we had to take the initiative, where it was almost solely down to us to play, that shouldn't be the case today. Hopefully Yaya Toure can have another game in which he walks around the pitch dreaming of tasty cake while Aguero can slot back into Koscielny's pocket as he has done so many times in the past.
Hopefully Southampton can do us a favour earlier this afternoon, maybe they can give us some additional motivation by beating a Tottenham side who are hopefully well and truly deflated. A second placed finish would be possible but we have to do our jobs first and that means beating Manchester City today.