For the sake of fourth place, Gunners fans forced to root for United
There are times in life when your brain and your heart don’t get along. In your thinking places, you know what’s best, but in your feeling places you want something totally different. I experienced this phenomenon to the fullest extent today as I watched Manchester United claw back a victory from Aston Villa.
With a chance to head to Villareal with a six point lead on Villa, we really needed Manchester United to take all three points today. But as I watched the game, I found myself almost incapable of getting behind the Red Devils. Perhaps this was fueled by the foolish notion that Arsenal could still somehow have a role to play in the title chase. Perhaps it’s just the fact that United are a miserable pack of cretins with Premier League referees on the payroll. Whatever the reason, I sat on my hands and watched as we were delivered the result we needed, even if it did cause a twinge of regret.
So now we can head to Spain feeling confident about our chances of returning to the Champions League next season. As most of you probably know by now, the yellow submarine suffered a crushing injury blow when Santi Cazorla fractured his fibula in their 3-0 defeat to Almeria at the weekend. I don’t put much stock in the result, but the injury undoubtedly hurts their chances on Tuesday. Although Marcos Senna returns to the lineup, Cazorla was one of Villareal’s most influential players this season and we are fortunate not to be facing him.
Tomorrow I’ll do a full preview of the Villareal match and we should know a little more about the status of our injured players. Right now we know from Arsene that Eduardo and Diaby are out for Tuesday, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Nasri and Van Persie will be available. Nasri in particular should be recovered since his absence was due to flu. Understand, that when I have the flu I crawl around like I’ve been stricken with plague and make Ms. Blog take me to the hospital, but Samir Nasri is a proper athelete and should shake off his illness for the big game.
As I like to do the day after an Arsenal match, I watched yesterday’s match again today. It further reassured me that Cesc Fabregas is ready to contribute fully to the squad and that Denilson’s not ready to be an everyday starting midfielder for Arsenal Football Club. One of the best blogs around is Gilberto Silver’s, Gunnerblog. It’s everyday required reading for me. But I don’t agree with Gilberto Silver that the 4-2-3-1 formation is one that suits this team. The principle problem I have with this formation is that it doesn’t suit our attacking talent.
Considering that we have Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott and Fabregas available in midfield, I simply don’t see the wisdom of a formation that makes use of both Song and Denilson. You always want as many of your best players on the pitch as possible and the 4-2-3-1 simply doesn’t allow for that. Also, when Nasri and Van Persie are fit, it’s unlikely that Wenger will choose to put both of them on the subs bench in favor of Denilson and Song. You can argue that the extra holding midfielder allows the other players to get more involved in the attack, but we have been holding our own just fine with one holding midfielder. I also felt that Arshavin struggled at times with the rigidity of the formation. He seems to be at his attacking best when he has a little more freedom.
Gunnerblog points out that Liverpool make great use of this formation with Gerrard playing in the “hole” right behind Torres. (Which I can see happening in their dressing room as well…) But Fabregas is a very different player than Gerrard. He likes to sit back just a little and pick that killer pass. Gerrard prefers to be bombing through the midfield into the box. While Cesc created both goals yesterday, he never really looked like getting into scoring position for himself, which is what I believe a central midfielder does in a 4-2-3-1. Otherwise, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your lone striker to get the goals. Fortunately for us, it worked out just fine against Citeh, with Ade netting twice. After watching the match again, Adebayor’s work rate was great yesterday and he was a little unfortunate not to complete his hattrick. In final adjudication, it was a good game and we dominated the second half, but I’m willing to bet that we would have created even more good chances with two strikers.
Ahead of our trip to Spain we should all steele ourselves for the inevitable crush of media reports regarding our players leaving for this team or that. Here are some of the headline’s you’ll be reading this week:
- Fabregas set for Barcelona move in the summer
- Robin Van Persie Set for Barcelona move in the summer
- Emmanuel Adebayor says he might move to Barcelona in the summer
- Dennis Lachter says Arshavin will definitely stay at Arsenal unless he leaves
- Emmanuel Eboue says that he would be willing to sign for Barcelona
- Arsene Wenger will coach Real Madrid next season and he’s bringing the Emirates pitch
Of course you can replace any instance of Barcelona with Real Madrid or vice-versa and you’ve got another headline. In a hilarious preview of what’s to come, one British paper has Van Persie going to Barcelona for 15 million pounds. Not to be out-done, another tabloid suggests he’s leaving for 35 million. I say when the number hits 90 million we should consider selling.
Some important fitness tests today for Van Persie, Nasri and Eduardo. Judging by what the manager has already said, I expect only the first two to be ready, but we can hope for better. Theo says he good to go as well. In any event, it should be a rollicking time in Spain on Tuesday. If you’re going to the match, then know that I am green with envy. But more importantly, let the team hear you loud and clear! The support in Rome was truly outstanding.
An away goal is imperative on Tuesday, so let’s hope all of our attacking options are available. We should know more in just a few hours.