Arsenal v Sp*rs preview

A much earlier blog than usual as I’m heading Londonwards this morning for the game.

The team news is that Jack Wilshere is fit, Diaby, Vermaelen, Almunia and Ramsey remain out. Other than that we have a full complement to choose from and it means we can put out a strong starting XI with plenty of options on the bench. I have a sneaky suspicion that Denilson’s Everton cameo, and the extra experience he has, means young Jack will start on the bench. Up front I don’t see any change from Everton so I think we’ll start with:

Fabianski – Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy – Song – Denilson – Fabregas – Nasri – Arshavin – Chamakh

The bench, I suspect, will be : Wojscez©® – Wilshere – van Persie – Bendtner – Koscielny – Eboue – Rosicky – AN OTHER

It seems Bendtner has been axed from the squad for today – it might mean a place on the bench for Carlos Vela, perhaps Jay Emmanuel-Thomas or even Henri Lansbury. That’s got to sting for Bendtner, but maybe this is the kind of lesson he needs to learn. It’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to this.

It’s always a massive game but this one takes on even greater importance as we try and capitalise on the failings of those around us. Chelsea let us right back into it last weekend and a win tomorrow would send us top of the table, temporarily at least. Arsene says:

That is a big motivation for us because we have created a momentum, and have won five of the last six. Although we lost one, the opponent only had one shot on goal. We have created momentum and just want to continue. We just want to create a good performance to win the game, so let’s just do it.

The away wins at Wolves and Everton showed that this team is capable of scrapping for points and winning them. We saw them stand up to attacking onslaughts, deal with physical stuff, and take chances when they came along. On the road we’ve been excellent this season, only Chelsea away was a real disappointment. The failures, such as they are, have come at home. We need to make the Grove a difficult place for teams to come. Sentiments echoed by the captain.

The win in the Carling Cup went some way to making up for defeat at their place at the tail end of the season but with all due respect to that competition and to that result this is far more important. There’s pride to play for in any derby, the importance of that has to be drilled in to the new arrivals. The rest of them know fine well how much this means, to the club, to the fans and to themselves.

There can be no shirking of tackles, no failure to track back, no half-arsed covering or marking, anything less than everything is just not enough. We have a proud record at home against them, today is no time to let that slip. You don’t get any more than three points for beating them but to beat them and go top, even for a short period of time, would instill a confidence and belief in this team that perhaps its been lacking at times. From seven points back to top, beating that lot on the way … it’s a juicy prize at the end of 90 minutes.

Much depends on our ‘big’ players. Naturally things will flow through Cesc and Samir Nasri but you’d be looking at Andrei Arshavin to show a bit of form. 90 minutes with Russia is no excuse, he’s been sub-par this season, today is exactly the right time to get back on track. Bacary Sagna’s duel with in the in-form Gareth Bale will be interesting, if we can put the shackles on him then much of what Sp*rs have done well in recent games will be nullified. Attention, I’m sure, will be paid to van der Vaart but there’s more than enough quality in our starting XI, and on the bench, to give them a really difficult time provided we put the work in.

The Gallas sideshow is just that. He’ll get stick, of course he will, but he’ll get stick because he was a Chelsea player and is now a Sp*rs player. But there are ten other players with cocks on their shirt who will get a hard time too.

Arsene has spoken about how this is his strongest squad ever and how the boys have become men, the kind of utterances which have come back to haunt him in the past. Let’s hope he’s right, let’s hope they can do what he believes they can, and that the performance we get today shows everyone that this team means business. We can’t afford to drop any more silly points at home, we can’t abide dropping them to this lot.

Remember, we are the Arsenal, they are the cunts. Let’s go top of the league.

See some of you there.

COME ON YOU GOOOOOOOOOOOOONERS.

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