As expected, yesterday’s result did not go our way, and in some ways starting today outside of the top four should be a sharp reminder that we can’t take anything for granted just yet.
They have points on the board, we have games in hand, but obviously it’s crucial that we make them count and that starts tonight when we visit Crystal Palace. The idea that we’re favourites for the top four isn’t entirely misplaced, but the idea that it was a foregone conclusion certainly is. There’s a lot still to do, and being reminded of that isn’t necessarily a bad thing (even if them winning is always bad).
Mikel Arteta says:
What we want to do is very clear, and the perception of what people think is not going to change it.
If nothing else, the clarity of the goal makes things uncomplicated. The team know what they need to do, which is why every little step along the way is celebrated, and after an Interlull we need to get going again, focused on the one game at a time that has been the mantra for some time now.
The fact we play on a Monday night will have given the players who traveled more time to recover, and the manager more time to work with his side in terms of preparation and organisation. We know from earlier in the season that Palace are a decent side who can hurt you if you’re not at the required level. We didn’t quite gift them the two goals they scored at the Emirates, but for both I think we could have done better. It took a very late equaliser from Alexandre Lacazette to save a point – he has scored just three times since that game in October, so tonight would be a good night for him to find his shooting boots again.
It’s interesting to compare and contrast the team from that game to the one tonight. In terms of personnel there won’t be too much different, the departure of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the only major event, but we’re much more rounded, and better developed now. Back then I think there were still significant doubts, now there’s more confidence in the team itself and confidence among fans that we’re going in the right direction.
Quite who plays later on is still a bit unclear. Aaron Ramsdale was back in training, which should indicate he’s ready to start, while Bukayo Saka has recovered from his bout of Covid-19. Whether he’s feeling 100% or not remains to be seen but fingers crossed on that. Then the only other absentee of note is Takehiro Tomiyasu who has been out for quite a while now, so I wonder if he might be eased back into action with some minutes here and there over the coming games. With key fixtures against big teams, and Sp*rs, coming up, I don’t think there’ll be any risks taken there.
As for the opposition, if you listened to Friday’s Arsecast, Crystal Palace fan Dan from HLTCO spoke about the mindset Patrick Vieira is installing there: they’ll be out to win, rather than contain, so we can expect a tough game. They have some injuries, Zaha in particular, but still have some exciting young players who we’ll have to be wary of. After that, we have to have efficiency up front, both in making and taking our chances, and three points later on would return us to the top four and demonstrate an ability to cope with the pressure that will continue to build over the coming weeks.
Putting football to one side for a moment, I’m proud to lend my support to my friends at the Arsenal Vision Podcast, and their annual campaign to raise funds for the Arsenal Foundation. This year, the funds will go to Save The Children, to help the children suffering from the war in Ukraine. But because of the powerful work being done by the Arsenal Foundation and by Save the Children’s emergency fund, they will aid children impacted by wars in other places too.
In this special episode of the podcast, Elliot Smith speaks to Mairead King from the Arsenal Foundation and James Denslow from Save The Children, to discuss the campaign, and who exactly the funds will help.
Also, when you donate, you’re entered to win a VIP luxury box experience at the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal’s game against Everton on the final day of the season, with Clive Palmer, Tim Stillman, Elliot and … me! Hopefully it will be a day of celebration.
You can donate via this link: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/avpgives
As well as that, I’m announcing that Arseblog will be donating every single penny from our Patreon in the month of April to Unicef. This money will go to help children impacted by the war in Ukraine, as well as other conflicts around the world in, such as Yemen, Syria, Gaza, and Afghanistan.
It means that if you sign up at patreon.com/arseblog, you get access to everything we do on Patreon, and all the archived material, but your subscription will go directly to kids in need around the world. Even if you just do it for month, you’re helping in a substantial way.
So, there you go. Perhaps it’s a drop in a very vast ocean, but doing what we can as part of this amazing Arsenal community is important. Now more than ever we need to do as much as possible to look after each other.
Right, that’s it for now. Catch you later for the game.