There was a time when a Man Utd v Arsenal fixture at this stage of the season would have been a title decider. In fact, if you can cast your mind back that far, a game on the 8th of May 2002 was exactly that:
Anyway, the stakes are not so high today. They could finish in the top 3, a win for us ensures we do just that, so there’s something to play for now, but it’s not the prize that either club would really like. Still, for the day that’s in it, there’s enough rivalry to be going on with.
In terms of today’s team, you wonder if the manager might change things around. Doubts over Aaron Ramsey’s fitness might necessitate a change, but again we come back to the question of whether or not that might mean Walcott or Wilshere. Wenger has been happier to use a central midfielder out wide in recent weeks, and I suspect if Ramsey doesn’t make it then he’d be more inclined to go like for like – especially away from home when Walcott’s defensive deficiencies are most likely to be exposed.
Other than that particular area of the pitch, it’s hard to see any changes being made. The defeat to Swansea wasn’t one that suggests we need to shake things up in a big way. Danny Welbeck’s lack of fitness means Olivier Giroud should start and he’ll be looking to put an end to his goal-less streak (his last goal came in the 4-1 win over the Mugsmashers).
If Welbeck had been fit, I think the manager might well have gone with him given the occasion/location, but it’s now on the HFB to find his way out of his relatively lean spell. With the support of Ozil, Alexis and Santi Cazorla, it’s not all on him obviously, but fingers crossed he can put an end to this trying time without a goal. It’s the longest he’s gone without one this season (the previous longest was just 3 games, so by his high standards this year he’s due a goal).
A win today would ensure we finish in at least third place, a point would mean a single point from our last two games would do likewise. Our goal difference is significantly superior to theirs so unless they beat Hull 10-0 in their last game, there’s no real chance of that coming into the equation which isn’t actually an equation but a football match.
Anyway, it kicks off at 4pm, we’ll have live blog coverage as always, so check back here for a post with all the details or just bookmark our live blog page and updates will begin automatically.
Apologies for the short post this morning, but sometimes real life, and my own hapless ludicrousness, impinges on the blog itself. It won’t happen again (until the next time).