Yes, it’s been quite a while since I last posted a preview for a game. 4 months to be precise. The last preview was the home game against Southampton, which we won 2-0, with a Giroud brace, courtesy some assistance from Artur Boruc.
It’s been quite a topsy turvy time over the past few weeks. In fact, since the start of the year, there have been several such moments. It started in solid fashion, with wins over Newcastle at St. James Park, Cardiff at the Emirates, Aston Villa at Villa Park and Fulham again at the Emirates. In the midst of that the Gunners knocked Tottenham and Coventry out of the FA Cup.
Post that, Arsenal drew 2-2 at St. Mary’s against Southampton, despite rallying from 1-0 down to leading 2-1. Arsenal struggled against lowly Crystal Palace, but overcame them with a brace from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Then, Arsenal were taken to the cleaners at Anfield, as Liverpool raced away with a 5-1 win.
With the mauling still in the back of their minds, Arsenal hosted Manchester United in midweek. Prior to the Liverpool defeat, probably every Arsenal fan was of the opinion that the jinx against the Red Devils would finally end, but we were treated to a dour 0-0 draw. Arsenal’s last win against United remains 3 years back, in May 2011. Arsenal extracted some measure of revenge against Liverpool, by knocking the Reds 2-1 out of the FA Cup, with a slightly shaky, but efficient performance.
Then came the strange Bayern match. The first leg of the First Knockout Round. With Yaya Sanogo upfront, owing to Olivier Giroud’s romp with a FHM model, Arsenal started brightly against the marauding European champions. In the 8th minute, Mesut Ozil’s tame penalty was saved. Wojciech Szczesny was sent off in the 37th minute when Arjen Robben went tumbling like a pack of cards. 10 man Arsenal stood up to the Bayern onslaught but ended up losing 2-0.
Arsenal responded in resounding fashion to that loss, with a 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland. And then lost 1-0 to Stoke. That was before Arsenal chalked up another 4-1 win, against Everton to reach the semi finals of the FA Cup.
Arsenal’s form this calendar year reads:
9 wins. 3 losses. 3 draws.
And that’s the beauty of it. Like Nick Hornby so epicly portrays in Fever Pitch “It’s not easy to be an Arsenal fan”. It really isn’t. Probably a month back, Arsenal were leading the Premier League table, and tipped by many to have a fair chance of knocking Bayern out of the Champions League.
But, as of now, we are in 4th place, on 59 points, 7 points behind leaders Chelsea, and 2 games in hand. Oh, and we are out of the Champions League. Well, no this is not another negative post as it seems it is. In fact, it is more positive than you think.
There’s still at least 11 games to play, 10 of them in the league. Away trips to Sp*rs today, Chelsea next week and Everton in April await. Manchester City come visiting later this month. It all starts all today though, against Sp*rs.
There’s nothing better than getting a kickstart with a win over your historic rivals. And, this is the best time to do it. Sp*rs saw a bit of rejuvenation after Tim Sherwood took over the reigns at the circus of a club. But, Tottenham have had a more shaky form than Arsenal.
Having been mauled 5-1 by Manchester City, and 5-0 by Liverpool, both at home, they managed to beat Swansea 3-1 and Newcastle 4-0, both away from home, and even beat sturdy Everton 1-0 at home. Funnily, they managed to lose 1-0 at Carrow Road to Norwich City. In the week leading up to tonight’s clash, they were trounced 4-0 at Satmford Bridge by the league leaders Chelsea, and then went on to lose 3-1 at home to a solid Benfica side.
Yes, confidence is pretty thin at the moment. But, it’s the derby, and anything can happen. Form is of little consideration here. And that is why, Arsene Wenger will know his side, will have to tread cautiously.
Tottenham will look to stifle Arsenal. Against Chelsea, Tim Sherwood deployed an extra midfielder to partner Brazilian Sandro by playing Kyle Naughton, a move which backfired as Chelsea romped to a 4-0 win. Paulinho could be handed a start, while either of Nabil Bentaleb or Andros Townsend on one of the wings. Christian Eriksen could be in contention for a start as well after his fine free kick goal against Benfica. Kyle Walker is doubtful to start, while Michael Dawson is definitely out of this one. Younes Kaboul is available for selection after his red card against Chelsea was rescinded.
Arsenal have some problems of their own, with Mesut Ozil out for at least 3 weeks, with a maximum of 6 weeks, a major injury blow. Jack Wilshere faces another 3-4 weeks injured, while Aaron Ramsey suffered a setback on his road to recovery, which means he misses this game. Nacho Monreal is back fit, and is expected to take his place at left back, despite a solid display by Thomas Vermaelen in Munich. Kieran Gibbs is still out, but there is some good news as Swedish international Kim Kallstrom, Arsenal’s deadline day signing is available for selection.
Here is how I expect the sides to line up.
Arsenal – Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Arteta, Podolski, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Giroud
Tottenham – Lloris, Naughton, Veronghen, Kaboul, Rose, Paulinho, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Bentaleb, Adebayor
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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