So, 24 hours later than originally planned, we take on Wolves today at home. Yesterday’s results were relatively kind to us. Man City dropping points is nice but seeing Chelsea and Liverpool do the same is more relevant to where we are right now and it’s crucial we take advantage.
The manager does have some decisions to make today regarding his team. Does he keep Vermaelen at left back and Coquelin on the right, or does he play Miquel, push Koscielny out right and move the Belgian back into the centre? It’s a tricky one, and there’s no real way of second guessing him here. I thought Coquelin did ok against Villa while Vermaelen admitted himself his performance at left back wasn’t great, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Alex Song returns to the centre of midfield which will, I think, allow Arsene to make at least one change there. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Benayoun start in place of Ramsey, and while all the focus is on Robin van Persie when it comes to resting players, we can’t ignore the fact that Mikel Arteta plays nearly every game and could probably do with a game off at some stage. Whether Arsene decides to throw Rosicky in for him today, or against QPR, remains to be seen.
I can’t see any changes in the front three – despite the manager retiterating the potential of The Ox and saying once again that Park’s adaptation period is over. I don’t quite buy that explanation for Park, I have to say. He played 3 full seasons in France and while there might well be a difference between Ligue 1 and the Premier League I don’t believe it’s that big that a 26 year old player needs 6 months without a league game to get himself ready.
How is it that Laurent Koscielny, after just 1 season in the French top flight, didn’t require such a period of adaptation? And how can Park adapt without playing anyway? I know there’s been little or no rotation up front this season because of van Persie’s form but to get to the end of December without even a 15-20 minute cameo in a league game goes beyond adaptation for me. However, I’d quite happily be surprised/proved wrong by him if and when he does get a chance.
Speaking of the captain, there’s all the talk about his goal-scoring record and if he can beat elbowy Geordie bloke, but he’s more interested in making sure we take three points today and kick off another winning run. He’s under no illusions that Wolves will be anything other than a very tough game either, saying:
I think they have a really good team, with really dangerous wingers on both sides and decent midfielders. They work very hard so it will be a challenge for us, but I believe we have a good chance of going on another long run so let’s show that today.
We’ve just been to two of the hardest places in the league and consider that we should have picked up more than three points, so we’re in a good position to put something interesting together.
We had to work very hard to get three points against Villa and I think it’s going to be the same today. Wolves aren’t going to come and play open, expansive football today. They’ll look to keep it tight, try and nick a goal and keep it even tighter after that. We certainly have the creativity and the nous to break them down but I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination.
An early goal would be lovely, it’d open the game up as Wolves would have to come out a little bit more, but if it doesn’t come we’ve got to be patient, rather than overly-cavalier, and trust that the quality we have will come through. They do have some tricky wide players too who will, I’m sure, try to make the most of the fact they’re not playing against conventional full-backs, but what’s interesting to me is that neither our manager, or captain, or underestimating today’s opponents in any way.
There’s no air of complacency and all the pre-match utterances are designed to ensure that our team today – whoever is picked – knows that they’ll need to show all the character and spirit they did against Villa and City to take the three points. All the same, if we do that I think this is a game we should win.
Amazingly it’s not on the TV today – and what the hell happened yesterday? Dec 26th was always a day for live football yet there was nothing from the Premier League at all (Stoke/Villa doesn’t count). Annoying really, as it meant we had to watch men watching football instead of actual football. Anyway, if you can’t see the game you can always follow it on the live blog later on.
Check back later on for the liveblog post or bookmark the default liveblog page. And as usual we’ve teamed up with Paddy Power to give you up to a £50 free bet – simply click here to register with Paddy Power.
Right then, for some mad reason I have agreed to play a game of indoor 6-a-side at 11am. Time to run off some of those Christmas pounds. Back later for the game.