Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: 3 goals, 3 points.

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: 3 goals, 3 points.

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Last night was the fourth time in four games that we’ve conceded the first goal to West Ham, and the fourth time we’ve come back to win. As I mentioned on yesterday’s blog, it was always going to be tough against an Allardyce team under these specific circumstances, but we did what we had to.

I watched the second half of the game on delay, so some thoughts assembled in a slightly different manner.

Our start and their goal

After the weekend, we began as slowly as expected and West Ham looked quite dangerous in the early stages. Still, I thought we came back into it well, at one point it was like somebody had flicked a switch to make our passing 50% more zippy. We should have been ahead then they scored.

And what a typically Arsenal goal to concede. They got a bit of a lucky bounce from a cross and Jarvis headed home at close range. I think we should probably be glad this morning that he did it successfully. Laurent Koscielny almost took his head off with a high boot trying to clear. If he’d got the man, it could easily have been a penalty and a red card, and a very untimely suspension.

Olivier Giroud

I’ve said plenty of times he’s not the best striker in the world; nor is he the worst. He’s become the focal point for frustration, and I suppose as the only striker in the team that’s understandable to extent. His failed attempt in the first half was atrocious, it was there to be hit with his right foot, instead he tried to be too cute with the outside of his left.

However, lesson learned. His second half goal to put Arsenal ahead was nothing short of superb. He was being bumped and bashed all over the place by Andy Carroll and Winston Reid, his first touch was sublime and he cracked it between the keeper’s legs with the right foot he ignored earlier in the game. It’s as good a goal as he’s ever scored for us, I reckon, and what an important one too.

It would be nice if there was a certain amount of moderation, rather than extremism about him. He’s got 20 goals, only one assist fewer than Mesut Ozil, and while I certainly accept his limitations and believe we can and should upgrade in the summer, there are people who refuse to acknowledge any of his qualities, which is a bit of a shame.

Lukas Podolski

Didn’t celebrate with much exuberance despite the two hugely important goals, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. Every time he comes up for discussion I’m reminded of what Arsene Wenger said about him when he was out injured earlier this season:

You always have the feeling that he is 80, 90 percent there, but you want him to give 100 per cent and then he’ll be world class. There’s more to come from him.

Two fantastic finishes last night, and what better way to respond after being taken off during the Wembley showpiece? If his goals don’t feel like enough for him to celebrate, then fine. I’m happy if it means we get a player who is more focused, more driven and determined to perform to a level I think many people believe he’s capable of. He seems too content to let games drift by without having an impact, and if what happened against Wembley had an impact, then it’s positive so far.


Despite his high boot antics, it was great to have Koscielny back alongside Per Mertesacker (even if the absence of Gibbs and Monreal meant we had our entire complement of centre-halves playing last night). There’s just much more assurance in the way we defend.

In front of them Kallstrom and Arteta did well, while Santi Cazorla buzzed around, much more like the Cazorla of old. With good news on the injury front regarding Mesut Ozil, and with Aaron Ramsey back and effective almost straight away, it augurs well for the next month or so.


It was always going to be a test of character as much as anything else, and having gone behind, to come back and win with almost aplomb showed enough of it. To me they looked exhausted and lethargic at first, and that’s hardly a surprise considering the 120 minutes at Wembley, but we scored three very good goals to ensure we took three very important points and went back into the top four.

I always felt this game was going to be crucial to our hopes of getting the required results in these last Premier League games. I think there are enough positives to take from this one to feel a bit more confident going to Hull at the weekend. Goals for Podolski and Giroud will do them good, and as I mentioned having injured players like Ozil, Koscielny and Rosicky gives us the options and depth we’re going to need.

Afterwards, Arsene Wenger said of his team, which had an average age of 29+:

It was a gamble but I said before the game as well that it was the oldest team certainly that I’ve ever played at Arsenal. I trusted the experience of the players because… tonight it was an unusual around-30 team, and that experience of course helps when you are a little bit backs against the wall.

In truth, it wasn’t so much a gamble as an absolute necessity. He really didn’t have any choice but to play the team he did. And maybe that wasn’t so bad, all things considered. The experience counted, and when we had to dig deep and graft out a result, we did it well.

Job done, onto the next one. Till tomorrow.


West Ham preview: Tired Arsenal face a big fight for three points

West Ham preview: Tired Arsenal face a big fight for three points

No rest for the wicked, as they say, and it’s Premier League action tonight against West Ham.

The big issue for the manager is how to manage his squad. Lots of them did 120 minutes against Wigan at the weekend and as such will be fatigued, no doubt about it. Midfield appears to be the most difficult area. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a groin strain at the weekend and wasn’t going to play at all, instead he did the full shift. Can you play Aaron Ramsey again so soon after he completed most of the semi-final? Mikel Arteta has looked tired recently, he’s bound to be feeling the effects.

And without Flamini (suspended), we’re looking at a first start for January’s now very prescient looking signing, Kim Kallstrom. Tomas Rosicky faces a fitness test, and although there were pictures of Mesut Ozil and Abou Diaby in training yesterday, it’s unclear how ready they might be to take up the baton if required.

At the back, Nacho Monreal faces a fitness test, Laurent Koscielny will come back into the side if he comes through a fitness test, and I would wager it’d be him and Vermaelen starting. Per Mertesacker has played 51 matches for club and country thus far, most of them as a starter, and surely he needs a rest at some point. The same goes for Bacary Sagna and we may see Carl Jenkinson (sporter of a very natty beard these days) at right back.

Up top Giroud should come back into the team, Podolski – fresh from his substitution – will likely play a role too, and even Nicklas Bendtner, back from rehab training in Denmark, should be considered tonight if he’s fit enough. Maybe it’s not ideal, but that’s the situation we’re in after those gruelling 120 minutes at Wembley. Basically, it’s nigh on impossible to choose exactly what eleven the boss is going to – or indeed can – pick from.

At his press conference yesterday, Wenger spoke about how getting to the cup final releases some of the pressure, and I think that’s undoubtedly true. Although it’s been replaced by a pressure of a different kind, this feels a little more mundane, less pervasive. There was just so much riding on Saturday. Which isn’t to say tonight is a game we should take lightly, of course it isn’t, but it still feels less end-of-the-worldy to me.

The aim is three points and to put some pressure on Everton in this scrap for the top four. Champions League football is crucial, as it has been all through these years, and having the cup final on the horizon shouldn’t take away from that. The cup is not some consolation prize if we don’t make it. Having topped the table for so long, to fall out of the top four would be disastrous, something the manager acknowledges:

I want this club to play in the top level competition. For that you want to be in the Champions League. We just want to not imagine the consequences of not doing it.

And he suggested our experience of having been in this position could be an advantage:

Experience counts of course. I believe that they have difficult games, and we have difficult games. We want to focus now on what we know we can do. We have a more complete squad and we want to win our games, no matter what Everton does. We want to finish in a strong way.

You have to think that five wins is probably going to be the requirement, unless the Everton wheels come off in a big way, and I think tonight is absolutely vital to our chances of doing that. I know that sounds obvious, but if we can take three points tonight it allows us to build on the Wembley win, and get bit of momentum going. To win, under what are going to be very testing circumstances tonight, would be a real boost to the confidence.

Lose and we’re reeling again. You don’t need me to tell you how fractious things could get, and the squad then have to go through the whole ‘Let’s pick ourselves up’ routine, which is not ideal. It’s going to be really tough against a West Ham side who have little to play for, and with Allardyce in charge they’ll be well and truly up for this one, as his teams always are when they face us.

I think we’re going to have to dig really, really deep to get the right result tonight, and anybody expecting us to burst back into life with a glorious performance is probably going to be disappointed. It could be tight, tetchy and nervy, but let’s hope we’ve got enough in the tank to take the three points.

In other news, the club’s allocation for the FA Cup final has been set at 25,000, something which has disappointed the club who released a statement about it yesterday. They complained about how many of the tickets for the final go to ‘neutrals’ and they’re right really, although this imbalance in how cup final tickets are distributed is not new.

I don’t suppose there’s any real harm in speaking out about it, but quite what will change is anybody’s guess. Unless you guess ‘nothing’, which is exactly what will change. That many of these tickets will end up in the hands of Hull and Arsenal fans, via friends of friends and, sadly, touts and scalpers at ludicrous prices, is something they’ll conveniently overlook as always.

The club are apparently going to screen the game at the Emirates, but there’s bound to be a great atmosphere in the pubs around the ground too. Anyway, no doubt the complaints will fall on deaf ears, and good luck to everyone trying to get their tickets.

Finally, don’t forget this week’s Arsecast Extra if you haven’t already filled your ears with arsey goodness. James and I chat about the semi-final, reports of fans fighting each other in the stands, Olivier Giroud, the goalkeeping situation and much more. Check it out.

As always we’ll have live blog coverage of tonight’s game for you. Tom will be here doing the business, we’ll put up a post later with all the details, but as always, you can simply bookmark the live blog page and updates will begin automatically.

Here’s to three points later, by hook or by crook. Come on Arsenal.

Arteta wants 5 wins, but Podolski’s unhappy

Arteta wants 5 wins, but Podolski’s unhappy

Morning all, welcome to a brand new week and one that is going to prove quite testing indeed, I reckon. After 120 minutes on Saturday, and with players in zones of both red and danger, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of team Arsene Wenger can cobble together for tomorrow night’s game against West Ham.

While we’ll have to wait for official team news, you have to think there’d be a huge doubt over Aaron Ramsey, just back from injury and well over 100 minutes under his belt. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ran until his legs were about to fall off, while Mikel Arteta, already tired, did the full 120. Without Flamini due to suspension, midfield could be quite makeshift indeed. Any team news that emerges during the day we’ll cover on Arseblog News and we’ll preview the West Ham game in tomorrow’s blog here.

So, after our win over Wigan, it turns out we’ll be facing Hull City in the final. The Tigers reached their first ever FA Cup final yesterday beating Sheffield United 5-3, and it’s one of those weird ones where we face each other twice in relatively quick succession. We’ll get all the guff about how Sunday’s trip to the KC Stadium is an FA Cup final warm-up, but this weekend they’ll have Jelavic and Long available, both of them are cup-tied for the showdown in May.

Again though, that’s one for the long finger as we have West Ham to deal with first, but hopefully we might have a player or two back from injury for that one. Mesut Ozil in particular is, I believe, pencilled in to make his comeback in that game, so fingers crossed we might see him make an effective return.

The Premier League pressures mean we have to put the Wigan game behind us rather quickly, and perhaps that’s no bad thing. As I said yesterday, getting to the final was fantastic, but the journey itself was like being stuck on a rickety bus beside a gross person who smelled vaguely of dried sick and had a wet cough which they’d let off in your direction every few minutes – when they weren’t sniffing luminous green snot stalactites back up their nose, that is.

Mikel Arteta has spelled out what needs to be done in terms of the league, saying:

I think it’s still there for us. I believe we can do it, but we need to win all our remaining championship games. If we don’t, then I don’t think we will do it.

And I think he’s right. I reckon we’re going to need at least 12 points from the last 15, and probably all 15 to finish in the top four. It’s going to be tough because of the injuries, because of the fatigue that is going to be a big factor in tomorrow’s game, and ultimately our form and confidence which have been quite low of late.

I don’t know that the Wigan performance is the kind that will necessarily provide a boost in confidence, we came so close to going out on Saturday, but I think players look at results more than anything else, and hopefully they can take something from it into these five games that will be so important. I think whatever happens this summer, having Champions League football is going to be crucial to (hopefully) driving the club forward.

It’s not impossible to bring in the right players without being in the only European competition worth anything, but it certainly makes it easier. For example, I’d posit it becomes very difficult to buy that ‘world class’ striker everyone wants without Champions League football, so we’ve really got to knuckle down and get the right results in these final Premier League games.

Meanwhile, Lukas Podolski has complained about the fact that was taken off at Wembley and that he’s substituted so much in general. He said:

I play and in the last games, I always come out and of course you cannot be happy when you always go out after 60, 70 minutes. You cannot be happy with this situation.

On a very basic level I think we can all understand that. Players want to play. Players don’t want to be hauled off at Wembley while a young kid who has never scored a goal is left on, but I think despite Sanogo’s rawness, Podolski can have few complaints if he looks at his own performance. There were two moments that stood out for me on Saturday. One was early in the second half when he received the ball in midfield and if he’d played it quickly outside him to Monreal we had a bit of space to get into down the left. By the time he’d turned and made the pass he had a Wigan man on him. He won a free kick but that lack of zip in terms of his general play is part of why I think he fails to convince the manager.

Podolski shoots

The second was not long before he came off. He had the ball just inside the Wigan area, with two men in front of him. Cazorla made a run outside him, which he should have spotted and played him in, instead he chose to shoot and it was easily blocked. He was taken off two minutes later.

I think there’s a recognition that what he does well, he does very well, but perhaps he doesn’t do enough things well to be a regular starter when everyone’s fit. He can strike a ball better than anyone in the team, so when he has a genuine opening he’s dangerous. His delivery from the left hand side is also very consistent and often creates chances for us, but beyond that it’s hard to pinpoint anything else.

He doesn’t make runs down the channels or in behind full backs, and often comes back inside which, when we’re playing poorly, is our default thing to do. Cut back, play a safe pass, try and build again. He’s more guilty of that than anyone else, I think. And the accusations that he doesn’t put in a defensive shift are perhaps a little overstated, but the simple fact is that when he does get back to try and contribute defensively, it can be genuinely heart in mouth stuff. His proclivity to make a foul in a dangerous area is obvious.

I’ve long said that with everyone fit (hah!), he’s a great player to have in the squad because he does have qualities others don’t, but the reason he’s taken off so often is purely and simply down to his performances and how they affect the team. I don’t blame him for being unhappy, but he’s the only one who can do anything about it, so maybe a little introspection is in order.

Right, that’s that for now. James and I will be recording to the Arsecast Extra this morning, if you’ve got any questions you’d like us to address, fire to them to @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter, using the hashtag #arsecastextra. We’ll have that ready for you before lunch.

Until then.

Wigan 1-1 Arsenal (2-4 on pens): Imperfect, but enough

Wigan 1-1 Arsenal (2-4 on pens): Imperfect, but enough

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So much of what football is about is defined by moments. Each team strives for 90 (or 120) minutes to make those moments count. Whether it’s a shot which ends up in the back of the net, a tackle, a block, a save, a killer pass – most games are about the battle to create or prevent those moments being decisive.

Winning too is one of those moments, and if you don’t allow yourself to enjoy it, or you insist on qualifying a success to the Nth degree then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You deny yourself the very point of it all. For example, criticism of Arsenal’s players celebrating a penalty shoot-out win because it was ‘just Wigan’ is entirely wide of the mark. You’re not simply celebrating a win over a Championship side, you’re celebrating getting to the cup final because you know just how much it means to the club for all kinds of reasons.

If you’d said yesterday that Arsenal were a team, crippled by injuries, struggling for form and under immense pressure, I don’t think anyone would have disagreed. Yet a performance utterly reflective of those traits seemed to come as a surprise to many who expected us to just turn up and roll Wigan over. I won’t even begin to touch on the people who, although nominally Arsenal fans, seemed to want us to lose yesterday for reasons I will never fathom. If your own agenda trumps the success of the team you claim to be a fan of, you might want to think about doing something else with your spare time.

None of which is to suggest that yesterday was some kind of glorious triumph, of course it wasn’t. It was, for most part, torturous, unpleasant and stomach churning, but in the end we did what we had to do. Perhaps not in the manner we’d all have liked, yet if you’ve been following this club for long enough you’ll know we rarely tend to do things the easy way. But what matters above everything else is that we’ve got an FA Cup final to look forward to.

I’ll happily admit that I enjoyed very little of the 90 minutes (bar Mertesacker’s equaliser), or the 30 minutes of extra time. Overall it was not a day that will go down in my scrapbook of great Arsenal moments, but when you look at the numbers, the suggestion that Wigan were better than us is a ludicrous one. In fact, I thought we fashioned enough moments to win the game – hitting the woodwork two or three times (?) – but due to the fact we had a player as raw as Yaya Sanogo up front we couldn’t make them count.

The early header really should have been a goal, and late in the game there was a cross from Ramsey which he got to the flight of but misjudged it and missed the ball completely when he should have poked it home. I want to make it very clear that I’m not being critical of Sanogo himself. You can’t condemn somebody for being so out of their depth. He didn’t pick the team, he did his best and tried hard, but football at this level is new to him and it’s obvious.

The criticism is that he’s all we’ve got when the manager wants to rest Giroud or he feels Giroud is not playing well enough. The substitution of Lukas Podolski, was a decision that was greeted with boos. Perhaps it’s hard to understand why the manager would remove an experienced international with so many goals to his name and leave on a youngster who has never scored for us, but that doesn’t take away from the fact the German was completely peripheral yesterday.

His reaction to being taken off, throwing a little strop, was not great, and maybe he needs to look at himself first and foremost. As I said to somebody last night, if he could play a game half as good as the one he talked or posted on social media he’d be Double Messi. The tactical inflexibility of Wenger has been something of a talking point lately, yet we went old school 442 with two strikers.

That Wigan’s penalty was conceded by Per Mertesacker seemed somewhat cruel. There’s no doubt it was a spot-kick but for Mertesacker, one of the season’s steadiest and most consistent performers, to give it was away felt like a bit of a cruel joke. Fabianski went the right way but couldn’t keep it out and for a long time it looked as if that was going to be enough. Gibbs came on for Monreal and immediately made a difference down the left hand side, and when Mertesacker equalised with just eight minutes to go, it felt like the universe had righted itself a little.

Although we hadn’t played well, we’d certainly had more of the game, created more, tried to attack and fashion chances, so to say it was a goal we didn’t deserve was completely wrong in my opinion. And how much did Per feel that? He must have been gutted to make that mistake, but he put it right, and he loved it. Arsenal’s character has been rightly questioned in recent weeks, we showed some yesterday.

You can’t complain that we don’t know how to grind out results then also complain when we grind out a result. Of course we’d all prefer Arsenal to be better, to play better, to perform better, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get. A starving man won’t complain when you give him a bowl of gruel, and that’s kind of where we are right now. Our need, above everything else, is that trophy, that piece of silverware. How we get it is not anywhere near as important as just getting it.

Extra-time came and went without much incident, although Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fizzer that cracked off the corner of the post and bar could have spared us the penalty shoot-out. And here’s another thing, the people who describe penalties as a ‘lottery’ are talking absolute bollocks. A lottery is something you have no control over, it’s arbitrary and random by its very nature. Penalties are a test of skill, of mental strength, character, and of footballing ability, and we passed that test with flying colours.

First of all, Lukasz Fabianski, who had little to do for most of the game, was brilliant. Although I still think it’s odd not to play your best team in every game, the manager’s decision to go with the elder of the Pole’s was entirely justified by his shoot-out heroics. He stopped Wigan’s first two penalties and that gave us the platform to win the game.

Yet we had also to count on four players to stand up and be counted under the most searing pressure (look at Sanogo here trying not to be sick!). Mikel Arteta, Kim Kallstrom, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla all duly obliged with rock solid spot-kicks against a keeper whose goal line antics were making me anxious, so who knows how they were feeling. They kept their nerve and fired us into the final. No doubt they would have been crucified if they missed, so they, along with the keeper, deserve the kudos this morning.

If Arsenal’s players celebrated raucously then they had every right to. There’s no need to qualify the moment with questions about the performance or the calibre of the opposition. We can analyse the shite out of it if you like, but the bottom line would be that despite the fact there wasn’t much to enjoy about the day as a whole, there’s a whole lot to like about the end result, and that genuinely is the only thing that matters right now.

I am no more or less concerned than I was beforehand about the state of the squad, its confidence, its quality, the manager (Amy’s piece in the Guardian is a great read) or anything else. I think those are issues that we’ve done to death and will do to death before the end of the season, I’m sure. Today though, after being put through the mill, I’m choosing to enjoy the fact that on May 17th Arsenal will be at Wembley to contest the cup final.

That’s my moment. Share it if you like. It’s good.

Till tomorrow.

Wigan preview: Gunners must make this Wembley part 1

Wigan preview: Gunners must make this Wembley part 1

Right then, here we go.

FA Cup semi-final day and it’s Wigan. Leaving aside the fact the semi-final should never, ever take place at Wembley, it’s a great chance for us to reach the final. Almost everything you read – whether it’s from fans or players – says that we shouldn’t underestimate Wigan, but that we should also have enough to do what’s necessary today.

Most people saw what they did in the last round against Man City and you have to respect that, and the fact they’re holders of cup in the first place, but this is a Championship side taking on a team that has been top of the Premier League for longer than anyone else this season.

Even if we are somewhat in the doldrums in terms of confidence and belief, if you can’t get yourself up for a cup semi-final, especially knowing how much is at stake for the club as a whole, then you’d really have to worry. Wigan have nothing to lose, we’ve got it all to lose, but that’s what comes with being a big club. It’s part and parcel of life as top player and they have to deal with that today.

It does appear as if there’s some good news about the team as the ‘doubtful’ trio of Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs all took part in training yesterday. Assuming they’re all ready for today, I’d go with the following team:

Fabianski* – Sagna – Mertesacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs – Arteta – Ramsey – Rosicky – Cazorla – Oxlade-Chamberlain – Giroud

I’d play Rosicky on the left hand side to provide proper cover to Gibbs, and the manager has form with this. He’s used him, like he used an on-loan Benayoun, in this position in big games. It means Cazorla has the freedom to operate behind the striker, while Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right gives us directness and pace. Maybe not as much as Walcott, but still enough to cause them problems.

It’s also important that there’s a bit more rigidity in terms of our positions when we don’t have the ball. Against Everton it really wasn’t clear who was playing on the right at times, which allowed Baines the space to set up their first goal. We can’t allow that kind of uncertainty again today. Even if the Ox doesn’t make the starting line-up (and for me the only reason would be because of his injury), that shape is going to be important whoever plays there.

I’ve seen some people suggest Sanogo should start over Giroud, but that’s too much of a risk for me. You’re asking a kid who has never scored a goal to carry that burden in a game with this amount of pressure. Too much. I have my issues with Giroud, as many of you do, but ultimately he’s scored 19 goals this season, has three in the FA Cup too, and is the best option we’ve got there.

I’ve marked Fabianski with a * because although he’ll play I’m not 100% sure why. I know he hasn’t let us down at all, and his performances in the cup have been excellent, but there’s a reason why Szczesny is the number 1 keeper at the club. He plays week in, week out for good reason. If it’s down to a promise the manager made, or something similar, then that’s not really a good enough motive to play a guy who hasn’t exactly had much in the way of match practice this season.

I just think that in your big games you play your best players and this concept of a cup keeper is understandable to a point, but can be counter-productive too. For example, do you think if we went back to play Everton again that Martinez would choose that hapless flapper again? I don’t think so. But, maybe Wenger views Fabianski as some kind of good luck charm, and maybe after everything else that’s gone on we need a bit of that.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain spoke yesterday about the cup, and like others said it would be a good building block for us. Win that one trophy, get the ‘Not won a trophy for X’ off our backs, and there’s sense to that. He also said:

It is a lot easier said than done, but we are in a ­position where we can make that happen, in a position where it is our responsibility to take that opportunity.

And I like that he’s used the word responsibility, because from this position that’s exactly what it is. Leaving aside the vagaries of sport which we all know/love, with the teams left in the cup this season it would be catastrophic not to go on and lift the trophy. They know how much it means in so many ways, and and if we were outsiders looking at a tournament with Liverpool or Man City or Chelsea with Wigan, then Hull or Sheffield United in their way, we wouldn’t think of them as anything other than overwhelming favourites.

And that’s the position we’re in. It’s also why I’m worried, because of the expectation and pressure that comes with it, but as I said above, that’s something you have to deal with when you’re at a club like Arsenal. Despite the injuries and the recent difficulties in terms of our form, we have to remember that we’re not as bad as everyone likes to make out.

We’re not as good as we’d hoped, but we’re not a rubbish team by any means. You don’t top the league for so long without quality, you don’t beat Liverpool, Dortmund and smaller teams like Sp*rs by accident, and to get to this point we’ve beaten that lot, Liverpool (under seriously intense pressure, remember), and Everton (who we know are a fine side), so we have to take confidence from that.

The majority of Wembley will be decked out in red and white today, it shouldn’t feel too much like an away game, and there’s enough experience in this team to do what needs to be done. We need to let go of the pressure of the occasion and just perform.

Do that, and we’ll go through.

If, for some reason, you can’t see the game later, we will have full live blog coverage for you. Just check back later for a post with all the details, or bookmark our default live blog page and updates will begin automatically.

Now a day that is going to draaaag until the kick off this evening. Not much to do but wait though.

Come on you reds.