Anyone who used to read these pages regularly may be aware that my contributions to this website have dwindled somewhat. Even when life has been hectic I have always tried to commit to the pre and post match stuff as that is what this is all about isn’t it? Unfortunately/fortunately [delete as appropriate] self employment has left me a very busy man so much so that I have pretty much had to stick to watching Arsenal games, editing the podcast and that is just about it.
I used to spend a great deal of time reading blogs and comment sections, consuming pretty much every existing Arsenal podcast going and that does not include all the time scrolling through Twitter. In the last few months that has changed completely.
So I kinda broke my Arsenal diet a little after the Everton defeat. I decided to have a look through Twitter and I know that platform isn’t exactly the greatest place to find balance and rational opinion moments after a defeat but blimey, it made me feel a little thankful that I have taken a back seat in the footballing fan circus.
Losing to an Everton team in such poor form after our very good run of results since the start of the season was very disappointing, especially when we had done the hard part by taking the lead and looking in control of the game but it’s worth ‘taking a little bit the distance’ with this one.
We were unbeaten away from home this season, hadn’t lost a Premier League or Champions League game since the opening day of the season, a match much like the EPL cup Southampton game where we were not able to field many first choice players for different reasons of course. I also try and stay in touch with the latest trends - get the best betting apps and that keeps a little bit of perspective.
But there is no doubt that losing this afternoon would give our title ambitions a blow, but as much as a 9 point gap behind Chelsea is not ideal it’s also worth remembering that we haven’t even set foot into 2017 yet, I don’t think Chelsea are good enough not to suffer a number of defeats from now until May.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned Manchester City yet. Pep Guardiola had a queue of worshipers waiting patiently to kneel in front of him after a string of August victories *puke* but the inconsistent form of his team at present shows just how competitive the English Premier League is.
The good news is that they will be missing Sergio Agüero, İlkay Gündoğan and Fernandinho this afternoon. The bad news is that they have spent a crazy amount of money on their squad so finding International quality replacements shouldn’t be too difficult for them.
I am interested to see how we approach this one. Like many a Pep Guardiola team, they are susceptible to a good old fashioned counter attack but Arsène Wenger’s way has often been to take the game to the opposition no matter the quality. Will he want to go toe to toe? Victory in those circumstances could inject our squad with huge confidence, knowing we can go away from home to one of our rivals and win. Or will he show that the team can adjust to the opposition and attack their weak spots. I am intrigued to see what the boss does today.
Arsène has spoken about the fixtures taking their toll in recent weeks, especially with so many away games but I just don’t see much rotation today. Perhaps Alex Iwobi will come back into the side to give us a little more control in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but that aside, I don’t see what else Arsène can do in such a big game like this.
Mean Lean’s Predicted Line Up:
Regardless of how this match finishes up, it has all the ingredients to be an entertaining and attacking game of football. Fingers crossed we can bounce back from the midweek defeat and I hope City struggle without their missing players. A victory at Manchester City would be just the tonic but let’s make no mistake, missing players or not, Manchester City away is a very tough game no matter which 11 they field.
I hope their defenders can channel their inner John Stones and slip Alexis and Theo through on goal a couple of times and we can take 3 points back home to north London.